Strategy of the Week

They're still waiting for the punch line at the University of Dayton -- and getting tons of press coverage in the process. The story starts last October, when humorist Tim
Bete, ( national marketing director and head of the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop at the University of Dayton, was looking to
generate some ink for the writers workshop celebrating the life of the late Bombeck, who attended the University of Dayton. But that alone probably wouldn't make reporters bite.
So Bete developed a Web site ( where people can submit their funny stories as part of the 100th anniversary of flight, which was pioneered by
another couple of famous Dayton-ites, the Wright Brothers. (A debate rages over whether the Wright Brothers belong to Ohio or North Carolina, but that's another story). "The
contest was based on the premise that sometimes it's better to create news than to wait for it to happen," Bete says. "If you have a contest in which people have to put something
in the mail, it's too much trouble, but with the Web, reporters' readers were much more interested." Combining the history of flight with humor has worked wonders with the media.
The flight humor contest has been covered by six of the top 100 newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Radio stations in the U.S.,
Canada and United Kingdom covered the contest, including BBC radio in London. The Web site was also picked as a Top 10 "indispensable Web site for travelers." The
contest also landed significant coverage on the Web and in aviation trade groups. Many of the media outlets that initially covered the story in October will most likely come back
for more when the winner is announced in June. The story, Bete says, "is timeless as long as the contest goes on."