Putting the Public Back in Public Relations: Crooked Monkey Style

Guest Post by Dr. Mark Drapeau – read his blog, follow him on Twitter

I hadn’t heard of the popular t-shirt company Crooked Monkey until I was invited to an exclusive party they recently held. You see, even though they get great press from actors wearing their shirts in movies and magazines talking about their fashion styles, Crooked Monkey is based in Washington, DC not widely known as the fashion capital of the country. And they wanted to do some local brand building.

This wasn’t just any party. Sure, there were attractive guests in a cool setting with great drinks and music all the usual stuff. It was what they did differently that made it the most memorable event Ive been to in a long time.

Lets start with how I even found out about the event a secretive email from someone I didn’t know telling me that my friend recommended me as a guest for the event. This is somewhere in between Facebook and Eyes Wide Shut.  Then, a request for my home address, to which was mailed a package containing an envelope with a paper invitation, and also a sparsely decorated white t-shirt, which I was required to save for the party two months later and bring with me to gain admittance. Finally, a bag of tart banana candies finished the package.

Further inspection revealed that the event was on a Sunday night (no night is safe from parties! ) at a secret location to be given to us later. Keep in mind that I dont know the person behind the party, nor the other guests, and now also not the location. Still later I discovered by email invitation that the event would be in a warehouse in a not-so-savory part of Washington, DC and that we MUST bring our white t-shirts because wed be doing something with them on the night of the event.

When the day of the event came, I really couldn’t stand not knowing anything! I texted the contacts I had for the event to ask questions, but they revealed little. I emailed some socialite friends to try to figure out who else would be there we knew it would be all tastemakers of different sorts, but no one really knew who was going, which was exciting. I used Google Maps to investigate the location of the warehouse. I stressed about what one wears to such events (I think I chose well! ).

Even the party itself was very engaging. An artist created a mural from our white t-shirts that we used for entry right in front of our eyes. An old-fashioned photo booth let us take pictures with each other, and the photo strips had (what else?) a Crooked Monkey logo on them.  Even the name of the event Photoshoot at the Warehouse gave the party an active quality.

Do you detect a pattern here? Crooked Monkey kept busy, elite attendees who get invited to tons of events mentally engaged with their event for weeks. They made us part of telling their story. They got us to talk about their brand before, during, and after the event.  And in the end, the event delivered with a cool venue, outstanding bar, fun atmosphere, and lots of fashion.

Photoshoot at the Warehouse is a great example of putting the public back in public relations and brand engagement. How great? Im writing an entire post about them – and I dont even like wearing t-shirts!

  • http://bit.ly/MLEstyle MLEstyle

    Great post Mark! I agree completely! They did an excellent job engaging and recruiting the right people for their event…and it was fun! I went with no expectations…and left thinking, “Wow, thaaat was a cool event.”

    • http://markdrapeau.blogspot.com cheeky_geeky

      I went with no expectations…and left thinking, “Wow, thaaat was a cool event.”

      Couldn't have said it better myself.

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  • http://enticelabs.com/ Chris

    Hey Brian. Love the blog and what your doing in the online social media recruitment space. I would like to touch base with you and see how we could potentially work together.

  • adamss

    it has been a cool game.

  • http://www.onbrands.wordpress.com dcjcameron

    Another lesson here, Brian and all, is the value in taking risks. This wasn't exactly the safest approach. Some invited guests might have been turned away from this event by the cryptic nature of everything as well as the not-so-savory part of Washington. With a willingness to take a risk though, they added to the overall experience and it seemingly paid off. The alternative is to go the conventional route, which is seemingly safer… But safe is boring. And boring leads to blands NOT brands.

    • http://markdrapeau.blogspot.com cheeky_geeky

      Honestly, at one point I was tempted not to go precisely because of what you point out. And perhaps some were. But the people that did outweighed the people that didn't. Thanks for the “safe is boring” comment.

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  • Jay-Z

    Emperor Vodka drinks were the best part of the party, hands down!!!

  • Jay-Z

    Emperor Vodka drinks were the best part of the party, hands down!!!

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Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. More so, he humanizes technology’s causal effect to help people see people differently and understand what to do about it. He is an award-winning author and avid keynote speaker who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation and innovation.

Brian has authored several best-selling books including What’s the Future of Business (WTF), Engage! and The End of Business as Usual. His blog, BrianSolis.com, is ranked as a leading resource for insights into the future of business, new technology and marketing.

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