Now that we know the truth, we can sit in awe of one woman’s brilliance in jumping into a press opportunity. Mirlande Wilson made headlines after the MegaMillions lottery jumped over the $600M mark. The 37-year-old fast-food worker from Maryland claimed to have one of the three winning lottery tickets. Only, she didn’t know where it was. Typically, the media jumped all over it. Thus, Wilson found her 15 minutes of fame that Andy Warhol said we would all get. It’s too bad she didn’t know how to parlay that excitement beyond the 15 minutes (when the real lottery winners from Maryland showed up), but at least she has her Sweet Swine cap.
We will quickly forget about Mrs. Wilson once the news cycle about the actual winners (three teachers and administrators in the Baltimore public school system) plays its course – but, hopefully we won’t forget what she has taught us. Ultimately, we can laud her carpe diem spirit as she jumped into the fray at the right time. Though let us learn from the ways in which she not only couldn’t leverage the popularity, she allowed others to swoop in for the good stuff – the marketing optimization.
When she appeared at her news conference, she seemed out of it, but dressed for the occasion donning a Sweet Swine Pork Rinds hat. Once a marketer out of Alabama saw that, he immediately picked up the sweetswineporkrinds.com url and began building on what Wilson started. All of this without Wilson’s knowledge and, surely, not to her benefit.
To break it down into bite-sized tidbits, these are the places Wilson could have done differently after making the “positive” jump into the fray:
- Come up with a bit more compelling and consistent story of why you can’t produce your winning ticket. Though this might not have mattered because the press still bought the excuse one that was equivalent to my “I forgot my homework” BS that I don’t think my teachers ever bought into, so I stopped using in junior high school. In reality, more creativity could have parlayed her 15 minutes into a reality show.
- Be careful about how you present yourself at all times because you don’t know when the cameras are going to pop out – especially when you attend your own press conference… For benefits of doing this right, see the note above about a reality show.
- When wearing an item that could be construed as marketing or product placement, make sure you have some connection to the back-end profits. Don’t allow the profits you drive to go into another person’s hand without your own financial benefit.
- If you absolutely must wear something that has words on it, at least check to see if there is a url available for it. There is no reason that someone should be able to swoop in and register that url based on your hard-earned publicity.
- Be thinking about your online or digital identity to prolong your “popularity”. Don’t allow the only items to be seen online to be pictures of you looking like you are completely out of it. At least have some destination that presents the real you – unless the real you is completely out of it. In other words, be sure to invest in forms of presenting yourself the way you want to be seen. You might only get one chance to make that impression – make it count.
As you can see, there’s many things that companies and other individuals can learn from this. I am sure that Mrs. Wilson can persevere and will still end up with an agent of some sort and a producing partner for a reality show. (I’ve seen smaller train wrecks waiting to happen in reality television.) Be prepared when taking that first step into the limelight because you may never get a second chance and that one chance has to count.
We do have to give props to Mrs. Wilson as the chances of getting that much international attention – by doing virtually nothing – have longer odds than actually winning the lottery.
Now, where can we get ourselves some of that tasty Sweet Swine Pork Rind?