Word-Of-Mouth Amongst Chicago PR Community Key to Hairy Charity Event

Most of us strive to be known as brand builders, reputation managers, crisis maestros, et al. For better or for worse, I’m considered the world’s foremost authority and advocate on mustaches.

Sad but true.

In summer 2006, I mused with a few friends “Why not bring the mustache back into prominence?” That turned into a non-profit organization, online community, living and breathing digital Petri dish going on six years now that’s been featured by CBS Sunday Morning, Rachel Ray, USA Today, ESPN, “Fashionably Late With Stacey London,” the “Colbert Report” and more.

Each year, just like many of us do in building marketing campaigns, we manufacture a “vehicle.” First it was the Greatest Sports Mustache of All Time. Then, the Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year. This year, in addition to the Goulet Award, it’s America’s Most Mustache-Friendly Cities.

All the vehicles are aimed at driving traffic to the annual costume-heavy charity event, ‘Stache Bash, a reminder event of America’s once-rampant flavor-saving culture that traditionally has been held in the American Mustache Institute’s hometown of St. Louis.

In 2011, however, it was time to take the very hairy show on the road. Hence, America’s Most Mustache-Friendly City.

And that is – Chicago.

So we’ll hold ‘Stache Bash 2011 on October 28 at Joe’s Bar in Chicago, with about 1,300 of our closest mustache-loving friends, as a kickoff for the Movember charitable giving campaign benefitting the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG.

Now the question is: how do we get people to an event that really has no advertising budget?

Answer: PR and word-of-mouth.

As for PR, in naming Chicago as America’s Most Mustache-Friendly City — with the reward for such recognition to host ‘Stache Bash — media such as the Associated Press, AskMen.com and the Chicago Tribune’s Red Eye featured the announcement which hopefully will provide a strong springboard.

The second springboard, I hope, is the Chicago PR and marketing community itself.

‘Stache Bash sponsor MillerCoors, Movember, and I will host The Rally For the ‘Stache on October 6 at Fred & Adolph’s Pub (MillerCoors’ corporate bar in downtown Chicago). We hope to bring together any marketers and PR pros, and thus far, PRSA Chicago, the Social Media Club Chicago, and others are helping to get the message out. If you work in the space – you’re welcome to attend (invite here). There’ll be a little taste of the Oct. 28 Bash, which includes bearing witness the face melting air guitar of U.S. Air Guitar Champion Romeo Dance Cheetah.

The relative interest of the PR and marketing community of Chicago, as well as their willingness to communicate amongst their social group as they communicate the messages of their clients, will ultimately play a significant role in whether ‘Stache Bash sinks or swims.

I’m betting my really, really good looking mustache they come through.

Aaron Perlut has spent 20 years in media and marketing – both on the corporate side and in agencies large and small. In 2009, he left Fleishman-Hillard to found St. Louis-based Elasticity, where his work focuses on helping companies manage reputation and market brands by “triangulating” integrated communications strategies between PR, social media, and search. He also generally sports a large mustache and consumes copious amounts of bacon. To learn more about him, visit GoElastic.com, AaronPerlut.com, or follow him @AaronPerlut.

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