I know a guy who could probably write a book on public relations, or at least a chapter. He’s not a bigwig in a suite or an award-clenching hot shot. You might actually know him. He’s tall, has red hair, really big feet… his name is Ronald McDonald.
McDonald’s is one of our clients. When there’s a special celebration or promotion going on at a restaurant, Ronald McDonald is sure to be there, and it’s my duty to assist him. He signs autographs, takes pictures with customers, performs magic tricks for kids, hands out stickers and jokes around with the locals. I just carry his bag of magic and make sure no one messes with him.
When I assisted Ronald for the first time, I expected your run-of-the-mill clown, the kind that makes bad puns, smells like cigars, and pretty much repels every adult and child in his path. But I was wrong.
I was surprised to see the amount of joy that Ronald brought to customers. He put a smile on just about every single person’s face, young and old, with his sense of humor and welcoming character. People are really drawn to the guy. Sometimes customers will hang around the restaurant for the entire duration of Ronald’s stay just to see his antics. I’ve seen elderly women slow-dance with him, boyish grins light up the faces of tough guys, and people hugging him as if he was their long-lost father. It’s evident that Ronald really enjoys making people happy.
With Ronald there is no hidden sales agenda or marketing scheme. Yes, he’s tied to McDonald’s, but his sole purpose is to bring customers joy, that’s it.
I can’t put my finger on what it is about him that elates people so much. But for one thing, Ronald is a genuine people-person. And people appreciate authenticity, especially when it comes to interacting with a brand. So maybe people can pick up on Ronald’s sincere desire to make them laugh, to make them feel welcome, and to make them feel appreciated. And that may be the best kind of PR any business could hope to achieve.