Two weeks ago while traveling to Florida with the Mount Vernon Nazarene University baseball team to cover their annual spring trip, I had the opportunity one night to meet up with Dan Holm and Becky Maree, the two people who manage the Twitter and Facebook accounts for Outback. We met up fittingly at the Outback by the hotel I was staying at in Lakeland and spent the next couple hours chatting about all things Outback. It was fun to finally meet them in person, to hear what all is involved in their jobs, to find out what went on behind the scenes when they did my birthday surprise, and to even get to visit the kitchen of the Outback we were at and watch Bloomin' Onions be made. They are great people and they have been so kind to me.
As part of our conversation that night, I told them that the only thing missing from the whole 40th birthday surprise celebration was the fact that I had not been able to connect with Debbie Gibson, the 80's pop singer and then Broadway star who is now on this season's Celebrity Apprentice, to get her involved. I really felt like if she read the story that she would jump on board, but with over 56,000 followers on Twitter and a busy schedule I knew that she could easily miss my tweet about it. I did say that if Outback sent a tweet that maybe that would help her notice it.
Well, little did I know that Becky took that comment and ran with it as she tweeted Debbie from the Outback account. By the time I got back to my hotel room less than half an hour later, I started seeing messages that got me excited as I realized that Debbie was now paying attention. In fact, before I knew it, she was following me on Twitter and now I knew that I had a chance to pull this off!
Debbie and I exchanged a few direct messages as I worked out the details of getting a mailing address to send her Outback Surprise to her. She had me mail it to her PR firm in Beverly Hills, so that she could pick it up the day that she filmed the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. I decided to make a brief video for her to give her instructions just as Outback had done for me when this started. I also included five extra Bloomin' Onion gift cards with the package so she could enjoy giving things away just like I had. I mailed the package off and waited to see what would happen.
Well, fast forward one week. I'm checking my e-mail this morning and a message pops up from her PR person. Inside is the link to this video:
OK, needless to say, I was speechless! I mean...I've been a fan of Debbie's for over 20 years and to have her collaborate with me on a project like this is just beyond cool. To top it all off, it probably comes during one of her busiest weeks as she's on a whirlwind PR tour that has included the Tonight Show, the Today Show, and various other shows.
Thanks Debbie and Outback for making all of this possible! You guys sure know how to help a guy celebrate his birthday!