"Les Nessman" with my infant son James and me (1990)

[Updated from a similar post in June 2010.]

As we get close to Thanksgiving time in America, it’s also time  in my Public Relations Applications class to watch a classic episode of the classic late ’70s / early ’80s TV show “WKRP in Cincinnati” :: “Turkeys Away.”

According to the Internet Movie Database:

“[Station manager] Mr. Carlson is beginning to feel useless at the new formatted rock station so he decides to create a big Thanksgiving Day promotion. His idea? Get a helicopter, with a banner attached to it saying “Happy Thanksgiving From WKRP…” Then, based on a botched promotion from a radio station in Arkansas, live turkeys are dropped from a helicopter. Chaos ensues.”

We’ll watch “Turkeys Away” in class today, keeping in mind what you’ve learned in COMM 2322 during the semester.

So what can public relations students learn about how NOT to do a promotion from Mr. Carlson’s fiasco? I’ll get the list started:

  1. Do your research! It’s best to learn ahead of time that turkeys don’t fly.
  2. Get permission before doing a stunt.

What would you add to this list? Add your thoughts in the comments below.


14 Responses to What a Turkey Can Teach You About Public Relations

  1. Naida Lindberg says:

    This video had some key elements of communication gone wrong.
    It is so important to properly communicate with the people you work with.
    This turkey drop went horribly wrong not because the intentions of the team were off, but the lack of communication went very, very wrong.

  2. Trace says:

    I don’t know if any of the readers here are in PRSSA but I saw this link to a contest dealing with a web series on the PRSSA website and thought it might be fun. Also, your school chapter can win $2,000 if you win the contest! The sign-up page and more information can be found here:


  3. Daniel Barcelo says:

    Team collaboration is neccessary
    your first idea might not be the best one
    Organizations in transition need time to adjust

  4. Paul Hamilton says:

    Out of the many things that can be learned from this video are the benefits of thinking things through as a group and avoiding extreme ideas in a world of marketing.

  5. Naida Lindberg says:

    Communication is so important when putting on an event, take your time to thoroughly communicate your ideas and processes.
    What I learned about Public Relations: it is important to include all members of the team. Just because someone is not necessarily the most informative, or the most popular choice it is important to include their thoughts and see them as important. Have an inclusive team dynamic.

  6. Listen and take advice from others! Be equal to your employees!

  7. Isa Ramos says:

    >> There needs to be a chain of command where others approve the idea; not just one person.
    >> The area where are having the event needs to be in full agreement of what you are doing; need to get their permission.
    >> Know all the facts: Like, the fact that turkeys can’t fly.

  8. Sarah Minerella says:

    ~There needs to be communication within your team.
    -Work together.
    ~Make sure to have everthing planned out:
    -Approval from site.
    -Plan for when things go wrong.

  9. Sarah Allen says:

    Communicate differences before they escalate into serious problems within the team!

  10. Corey West says:

    Communicate with the entire staff before acting on a project. Make sure that everyone involved know what exactly is going on, because chances are someone probably will know something that will help.

  11. 1. Don’t go too over the top
    2. Do your research

  12. research/know the facts before diving into a project.

  13. Christina Miller says:

    Work together — ask people’s opinions. A very important factor may be overlooked by having just one planner.

  14. kate says:

    We said that there needs to be good communication within the department or company. We also said that you need to get your plans approved before you do them!