Yo Yo Hoaxster: Funny or not?

By Susan Finco, President, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

You may have heard about K-Strass, the man who recently appeared on several Midwest morning news shows, claiming to be a yo-yo master. Turns out, he was anything but a yo-yo master, which was apparent literally seconds into his interviews with local hosts.

Videos of his appearances have been making the rounds (one sample: http://bit.ly/bi3IrF). I have to admit that, if this were in a movie, I would be laughing right along with everyone else at what was a very uncomfortable situation. It was totally bizarre (think “Borat”) but, as a former journalist and now as a PR professional, it gives me heartburn!

Newsrooms are stretched thin these days and unfortunately it means that sometimes they are scrambling to fill interview slots on morning and weekend shows. My understanding is that the stations were contacted by someone claiming to be his promoter / PR person. The pitch sounded like K-Strass would be an interesting interview and would provide visuals with his yo yo tricks. I felt bad for the news people who suddenly found themselves dealing – live on air – with someone who was obviously not who he was supposed to be. It’s tough to be punk’d when you’re just doing your job.

The whole thing also made me a bit angry. As a PR firm, we regularly reach out to journalists, encouraging them to book interviews or appearances with our clients. We work hard to make sure the guests we’re promoting are interesting and newsworthy. If a news anchor or host is at a TV station we haven’t dealt with before, we make an extra effort to get to know them and what kinds of things they’re looking for in a guest. I don’t blame the journalists / producers who were duped if they make it twice as tough next time for someone to get a booking on their show.

I can hear some people saying at this point, “So what? It was funny!” Well, humor depends on your point of view. It’s clear the line between news and entertainment is already getting blurred and for those of us who take pride in our professions, this kind of “reality comedy” is making our jobs a lot tougher.