Yesterday, I had the opportunity to listen to Robert Deuel, director of Public Relations for Disney’s Worldwide Sales & Travel Operations, give a presentation to the local chapter of the PRSA
(Public Relations Society of America). He outlined the organizational structure of Disney departments and discussed his role in the 50th and the Year of a Million Dreams.
- He started as a street sweeper at Disneyland working his way through college. After a while, he was promoted to working on the Disneyland Railroad which meant his check came from Retlaw rather than Disney.
- He left Disney after graduating College. He worked for a few airlines before making his return.
- He described the Disney structure as broken into the following divisions: Disney Parks, Disney Studios, Disney/ABC Entertainment, Consumer Products (I’m paraphrasing on the exact names).
- The Happiest Homecoming on Earth 50th Anniversary was the first time that all the parks contributed to one large PR campaign. It was so successful, they created the Disney Parks brand and are again working in tandem on the Year of a Million Dreams.
- The Disney Parks brand may undergo a slight name tweak. It doesn’t do a good job of including the Disney Cruise line which is under its umbrella.
- “Where dreams come true” was actually coined by guests during focus groups. It came up, without the encouragement of Disney, multiple times and seemed a perfect fit.
- While Deuel and others in Disney were not convinced that bringing the pardoned turkeys to Disneyland was a good idea, it turned out to be a huge success. It received tons of media coverage from all over the world.
I did get the opportunity to ask him about blogs and bloggers. He said Disney is keenly aware of bloggers (and fan sites) but doesn’t have a strategy to interact with them. Disney thinks the fan enthusiasm is great and doesn’t want to interfere with that passion. He did express how this can create PR headaches. He specifically brought up the MiceAge article
on Tom Sawyer Island. He was amazed at what that created from a press perspective considering it was just an idea. The way he made it sound, the idea never really received much traction in Disney and their were no plans to proceed. However, the blogging community made it sound like it was a full blow project (my words, not his).