Regional Activity Update: Drexel University

The supposed “Curse of Billy Penn,” which began in 1984 when the One Liberty Place skyscraper in downtown Philadelphia broke a gentleman’s agreement not to build taller than the brim of William Penn’s hat on top of City Hall, serves as the inspiration for Drexel PRSSA’s Regional Activity, “Bizarre PR.” For 24 years after the agreement was broken, no major Philadelphia sports team won a championship. In 2008, the newest and tallest Philadelphia building, the Comcast Center, placed a mini statue of William Penn on top, reversing the curse, some say, and soon after the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series.

This experience motivated the PRSSA Drexel Chapter to create an event around businesses involved in bizarre publicity. The event invites Chapters to listen to and interact with professionals who have experience in the “bizarre” PR world.

The day will begin with a presentation by Jeanne Leonard, vice president of corporate communications and investor relations at Liberty Property Trust. Leonard will speak on her experience with the mini William Penn atop the Comcast Center, and the successful publicity that surrounded “breaking the curse.”

You can then attend breakout sessions on a number of bizarre topics. Matt Lake, author of Weird Pennsylvania, will discuss bizarre publishing and the steps he took to write a book based on bizarre parts of Pennsylvania. Gwen Kaminski, director of development and programs at Laurel Hill Cemetery, will discuss the way the famous cemetery draws visitors to the historic location in her bizarre tourism break out session. Finally, Jerri Williams, chief press officer of SEPTA, will discuss the pressures placed on public transportation in her bizarre crisis public relations session.

The day will continue over lunch with our mini Wing Bowl event. PRSSA Drexel Chapter invites attendees to get involved by participating in a wing-eating contest to raise money for Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation Event in Philadelphia. Since the Wing Bowl originated in Philadelphia, we are using this tradition to raise money for starving children across the country.

Following the Wing Bowl contest, you can join Keith Green, vice president of marketing and communications, and Stan Phelps, executive vice president, of Synergy Events for a “bizarre corporate events workshop.” The duo will discuss the bizarre PR behind events including “KFC’s Face From Space (World’s Largest Logo)” and “QuickStart Tennis Launch” where Tennis icons Martina Navratilova and Mary Jo Fernandez played a match on an oversized court with a large net, huge racquets and an oversized ball to demonstrate how difficult it is for children to play tennis with adult equipment.

The day will wrap up with our evening networking event. Here you can network with Philadelphia professionals from PPRA, PRSA and IABC.

For more information, visit our Web site. We look forward to seeing you in Philly!

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