Rake news: The story that shows you never know when you could find yourself in the media spotlight

One day you are a local business and the next you are the most famous landscaping company in the world.

Four Seasons Total Landscaping found it itself at the centre of the media spotlight and making headlines across the world thanks to a bizarre press conference from Donald Trump’s legal team and its claims of voter fraud.

When the president initially announced that a “big press conference” would be held at ‘Four Seasons’ in Philadelphia, reporters assumed it would be in the luxury downtown hotel.

Instead, a few hours later, they found themselves gathering in the small landscaping firm’s car park on the outskirts of the city, located between a sex shop and a crematorium.

The presumption is the unusual press conference setting was a result of a mix-up, although there have been reports the Trump team chose the location deliberately.

But the unlikely setting, which took the focus away from anything that was actually said during the conference, has been the subject of much ridicule and social media users have certainly had a field day.

 

 

The other key impact was that Four Seasons Total Landscaping became a household name overnight.

How has the company responded to its instant fame?

Well, it has certainly tried to cash in, with a merchandise section now added to its website where customers can buy hooded tops and T-shirts as well as stickers with variations on Trump-style slogans, including “Make America Rake Again’ and ‘Lawn and Order’. Much of which seems to have quickly sold out.

But away from the merch, the company appears to feel a little uneasy about the exposure and doesn’t seem to have done many media interviews.

On its Facebook account, it has moved to find common ground and appeal to both sides of the country’s politically divided society.

It said: “We were honored to be asked to host a press conference at our facility. We thank all of those that have shown support for our business and while we understand the negative comments, it saddens us that we have received such harsh judgement.

“Our team at Four Seasons would have proudly hosted any presidential candidate’s campaign at our business. We strongly believe in America and in democracy. We hope that our fellow Americans can join together and support all local small businesses during this time.”

Meanwhile, the owner of the neighbouring sex shop has also tried to capitalise on the bizarre story, giving an interview to Slate - an online magazine - about the infamous press conference.

The story reminds me of one a few years ago that also saw a small company at the centre of media scrutiny.

Security Search Management and Solutions became the focus for journalists after it accidentally left a training device - a mock-up of a pipe bomb - inside Old Trafford which caused 76,000 people to be ordered to leave the stadium before Manchester United’s final game of the season, in 2016.

It was the first time a Premier League game had been abandoned for security reasons and once it emerged the ‘bomb’ had been left over from a training exercise, huge numbers of reporters were naturally desperate to track down and speak to the people behind that training.

The story led the national news bulletins and also reached the international media.

Chris Reid, the company’s managing director, ended up having to give an impromptu press conference outside his home.

Another, more recent, example that we also featured in our media training blog, saw a small seed company in a remote part of Canada gain media coverage across the world after Facebook rejected its advert for onion seeds for being “overtly sexualised”.

So, why are we sharing all this with you in this media training blog?

Well, because it shows that whether it is a crisis media management situation or a proactive opportunity, any business can suddenly find itself in the media spotlight, regardless of its size, the nature of its work or its previous media exposure.

No organisations is too small or too obscure to slip under the media radar. And you never know when it may focus on you, so expect the unexpected and prepare for it.

We talk a lot in our blogs about being prepared for a crisis.

But you also need to be prepared to make the most of positive media opportunities, however they come your way, with recently trained spokespeople who can help maximise your time in the spotlight. And as the examples in this blog shows you need to be prepared for absolutely anything.

 

About to face the media? Get your media interview homework off to the best start by downloading your copy of our free media interview preparation eBook.

 

Media First are media and communications training specialists with over 35 years of experience. We have a team of trainers, each with decades of experience working as journalists, presenters, communications coaches and media trainers. 

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