Did you hear about the guy who starting walking 20 miles to work and was rewarded with a car? So, Carr walked. When Carr explained he was walking to his job, the police officer decided to drive him the rest of the way, stopping first to get him breakfast. The job Carr walked to was as a mover with Bellhops, a young, VC-backed, tech-enabled moving company headquartered in Tennessee. Let’s figure out what I need to do to give him my car tomorrow.’” With that decision, Miller knew the story would attract some attention. “We got everything lined up to give Walter the car in Birmingham,” said Miller. We started prepping for inbound media requests, but we didn’t realize just how big it would get.” PR as a team effort. You can’t manufacture stories like Carr's. If what you’re doing isn’t real, people will sniff the insincerity out and move along. He, of course, had to show his gumption to get to work; the police officer had to give him a ride (and feed him); the customer had to write a Facebook post; the CEO had to want to reward him; Miller had to help reporters tell the story quickly.
Did you hear about the guy who starting walking 20 miles to work and was rewarded with a car? Of course you did!
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In the wee hours of a July Saturday morning, Walter Carr set out for his first day at a new job. Sounds like a pretty ordinary story, right?
Sure. Except for one thing. To get to that job, Carr had to walk 20 miles from one Birmingham, Ala., suburb to another. Yes, he walked.
Walking across Alabama.
You see, Carr’s car had broken down, and he couldn’t find anyone to give him a ride. What about public transportation, you ask? Let’s just say Alabamians aren’t blessed with a bevy of such options (as is the case with many of their Southern neighbors). So, Carr walked.
Starting out just after midnight, he left Homewood for Pelham, a 20-minute drive — or a five-hour walk. After trudging down the roadside a few hours, a Pelham police officer spotted Carr, pulled over, and asked where he was heading at such an odd hour. When Carr explained he was walking to his job, the police officer decided to drive him the rest of the way, stopping first to get him breakfast.
Social media started the wave.
The job Carr walked to was as a mover with Bellhops, a young, VC-backed, tech-enabled moving company headquartered in Tennessee. And the customer, Jenny Lamey, after hearing about how he got to work — and being pleased with his work performance — shared Carr’s story that Saturday evening in a Facebook post for their friends to see. And no, she didn’t tag Bellhops.
By early Sunday morning, members of the Bellhops communications team, led by Kyle Miller, caught wind of the social media post and immediately got it in front of company leadership. The response was unanimous: They all wanted to do something for Carr. What, though?
You get a car!
Miller said they “threw around some ideas knowing that Walter needed reliable transportation more than anything, but also that we couldn’t buy him a brand new car,” given Bellhops’ startup budget.
That’s when CEO Luke Marklin decided to give Walter his own personal ride. “Later that day, Luke called me and said, ‘I am going to give him my car.’ I laughed, and then he said, ‘I’m serious. Let’s figure out what I need to do to give him my car tomorrow.’”
With that decision, Miller knew the story would attract some attention. Yet the amount of attention it generated was surprising. Almost unheard of, really.
Sensing a PR flood.
Most communications directors for young businesses spend much of their time trying to figure out how to get media coverage. Rare is the occasion when the tide turns and managing a wave of media requests becomes an all-consuming…