From time to time Public Relations Nation posts a guest blog by a Hofstra student. Ashley Zachariah of West Hartford, Connecticut is a public relations graduate student at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University. Check out Ashley’s take on last week’s NBC broadcast of The Wiz Live!:
NBC’s The Wiz Live! that aired on December 3 certainly “eased on down the road.” News outlets such as NPR are raving about the musical. According to Broadway.com, the production gathered 11.14 million viewers compared to the previous year’s 9.13 million for Peter Pan Live! The Wrap reports that the musical was the most-social live special program in Nielsen Twitter TV history, with 279,363 people sending out 1.64 million tweets, which were seen by 6.37 million people a total of 128.95 million times. Playbill.com has compiled an example of tweets that exhibit the positive Twitter reactions.
What made the modern take on the The Wizard of Oz such a national television sensation? Based on the various online reviews, diversity played a crucial role. The Wiz Live! is an example of how knowing your key audience can result in campaign success. An article written in the Huffington Post addresses the importance of featuring an all African American cast. While there has been Twitter backlash over casting choices, the musical’s timing is very appropriate given current racial tensions in our nation with events such as The University of Missouri scandal.
In addition to featuring a star-studded African American cast, the creators wisely chose to modernize the land of Oz with new gadgets such as an iPad. The iPad was not the only modern initiative made by NBC. The story also centered around female empowerment.
Finally, a smart change made by NBC was to try a different tactic with their casting choices. As The Washington Post writes, selecting a brand new star to play Dorothy gave the show a fresh new look with no expectations, as opposed to hiring big names such as Carrie Underwood.
One could argue that the show had its flaws from camera troubles, a missing Toto, and too many commercial breaks. However, the show hit the nail on the head with its PR strategies.