By Jenny Fujita and Joy Miura Koerte, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

“You better hope that every household in Hawai`i has at least five telephones, because you’re going to need all the support you can get.” That was what “American Idol” judge, Simon Cowell told a tearful Jasmine Trias on May 11.

On May 16, the Associated Press reported that “Of the 29 states in Verizon’s local territory, only New York and California logged more calls on its network than Hawai`i after the show… California and New York are among the most populous states in the nation; Hawai`i is among the least.”

If you’re one of the 25 or so million “American Idol” viewers who voted for Trias placing her among the top three finalists and sending La Toya London packing, (to the judges’ dismay), you were one of many who did so not just to support Trias but to prove to Cowell and the rest of the country that Hawai`i may be small but we are a force to be reckoned with.

There are a few PR implications at hand here: First, it is the nature of all underdogs to want to wield their power and when push (Cowell) comes to shove (Hawai`i), the underdog will bite as hard as it can. If you are dealing with an issue that involves an underdog, proceed cautiously and respectfully to avoid getting bitten.

Second, “Pacific Business News” reporter Howard Dicus said it well in an “American Idol” chat room when he wrote about “the priceless free publicity that Jasmine’s appearances on ‘Idol’ have given Hawai`i, and the possibility that those will translate into some extra visitors.” Hawai`i residents had good reason to vote for Trias beyond her singing ability. Talented local people, if given major public exposure, can have a huge positive impact on our visitor industry and economy. When “American Idol” televised the top three contestants’ trips back home, Diana DeGarmo’s and Fantasia Barrino’s paled in comparison to Trias’ (in our unbiased opinion…). This, coupled with the recent announcement that the Recording Academy has added “Best Hawaiian Music Album” as a new category for the 47th Grammy Awards proves that Hawai`i packs a good punch for its size, and local artists are making a strong impact nationally and globally.

Third, Hawai`i people truly make the best fans, hands down. Whether it’s UH Wahine volleyball, UH Warriors football, or Trias, we stick together through thick and thin. Build your business’ foundation on the local market if at all possible. If you’ve already got a strong local consumer following in your business, make sure to emphasize your unique selling point that garners their support. And, steward them well because local customer loyalty will serve you well.

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