How to Manipulate PR: Does the Hotel California Exist?

By James Knight.

Manipulating PR to your own ends is not new, however one example came to mind recently, how a little story becomes a million dollars through very clever PR.

My story came back to me while watching Sky Arts’ The Eagles in Concert at The Forum at Inglewood, Los Angeles. They played for two and half hours and if you love the Eagles this was a brilliant concert.

Back in 2008 I had suspicions about a story I had heard in Los Angeles, about the Eagles’ famous song Hotel California, did the hotel exist or was it a myth?

At the same time Jo Cummings, an international travel writer, had his doubts. The hotel was supposed to exist in Todos Santos, Baja California. Cummings contacted Don Henley to ask him about the story. Henley replied that neither he nor the band: “had never visited the hotel”. So, the song is not based on that hotel.

A person called Ray di Genaro bought an old hotel called Mission Hotel and renamed it Hotel California, saying it was the original song had been written about. Fans came from all over the world and di Genaro made a fortune through a remarkable PR campaign.

It was even reported in the Wall Street Journal, we carried the story in my magazines in the States around the time too.

The cover of the Hotel California record is, in fact, The Beverly Hills Hotel, Hollywood, which is called ‘The Pink Palace’. It has a great story in its own right, Hollywood was built round it.

This is not the only case of people cashing it on well-known trading names, a Harrods appeared on the Costa Del Sol with no connection to  the Knightsbridge store. Harrods brought a injunction about them using their name, another PR stunt, yet again making money in the meantime, the store was even decorated in Harrods Green and Gold.

Fake PR does exist and does make people plenty of money, you may find Lying Eyes of brands, as the Eagles would say.

Professor James Knight is an international businessman, public relations practitioners and academic. He was Fellow of Bournemouth University Public Relations School, guest speaker at Judge Cambridge, Surrey, Bath and Reading, International Mentor for Oxford Brookes on Hospitality. He is a Fellow of CIPR and the Society of Public Relations of America, as well as a fellow of the Institute of Directors. 
Photo by Bob Osias on Unsplash

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