the price is right public relations

In the PR game, sometimes, even when you win, you lose. Recently, hugely successful game show The Price is Right offered a real-time example of this unfortunate law of cause and effect. One of the great draws of The Price is Right is that anyone in the studio audience – anyone – has the potential of being called to “Come on down!” and be a contestant.

During one particular show, that “anyone” turned out to be Danielle Perez. The contestant came on down, then won her initial bidding war, then won her game. All good right? She even won a cool prize – a top of the line treadmill. Awesome! Except for one detail: Perez is in a wheelchair.

The awkwardness when the curtain rolled back and the prize was revealed was palpable. You could almost reach out and grab it. The entire audience began cheering, then took a second look at Perez, who has been in a chair since 2004 when an accident took her legs. At that moment, a terribly uncomfortable silence blew through the studio.

Fortunately for all involved, Perez has an incredible sense of humor and appreciation of irony. Taking the lead in the messaging, Perez began tweeting out several upbeat messages about the incident. She appreciated the “fun” on the show, the kindness of host Drew Carey and the reaction of everyone at CBS.

For their part, CBS simply said that prizes are selected in advance and not decided based on the contestants. Anyone could have been there at that moment. The incident, if mishandled, could have left CBS with some egg on its face.

Instead, because of a good person and quick control of the situation, the network and the show turned an embarrassing incident into an opportunity to reflect the best aspects of human nature – humor and understanding.