WINNING PR CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK
Media Blitz Spectacular: PR Scores Coverage in EVERY SINGLE Media Outlet in Pacific Northwest with Rockin’ Christmas Show
Getting any kind of media attention for a first time event during the cluttered holiday season is difficult enough. Especially in Seattle, where several longstanding acts comprise a long list of media dominators: the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker; the Seattle Symphony’s Holiday Pops; Christmas Ships; Bon-Macy’s Holiday Parade; and Winterfest at Westlake Center, among many, many others.
But when the Radio City Christmas Spectacular came to Seattle for the first time in 2004, nothing short of appearing in every single newspaper and every single broadcast affiliate in the Seattle area would suffice. That was what Jill Yamamoto and the team at Seattle-based Richmond PR knew they had to do to make the legendary Radio City Christmas Spectacular stand out as the number one holiday act in town.
Rising to the Challenge
“Our strategy was simple,” Yamamoto explains. “We put out announcements to reach every single media outlet in the Pacific Northwest region.”
That, of course, is an extremely simplified summary of Richmond’s outstanding strategy that managed to pull off such a comprehensive media blitz. “One of the biggest challenges our strategy had to address was prioritizing such a long list of media outlets we had to reach out to,” she says. “We not only had to know who was out there, but we had to do research on each outlet, and consider whether or not the publication would be interested talking about the show.”
Luckily, the stars of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular are the Rockettes, the high-kicking, highly sexy and talented group of dancers that are a household name pretty much everywhere in the country. Leveraging the popularity of the Rockettes would certainly help gain exposure for the show—but media options can be limited for such a niche group of performers.
A Novel Media Relations Approach
“We took a different approach to targeting outlets and editors,” she says. “Because the next part of our strategy involved contacting and partnering with as many local community organizations as possible. For example, we worked with the Salvation Army. The Rockettes kicked off the bell-ringing season for them. We also partnered with the Seattle Marathon—the Rockettes passed out medals at the finish line. And they also went to Seattle Tacoma International Airport and gave an impromptu performance near the baggage claim. “This allowed us to widen our scope,” she says. “So rather than just going after arts and entertainment writers, we went for writers and editors who may not be typically be interested—like children’s writers, sportswriters and others.”
This community outreach effort made it possible for the Richmond team to reach out to as many different kinds of writers and editors as they could—ultimately resulting in the media blitz that followed. “But this meant we had to keep everything straight—not only the media outlets and editors we targeted, but also the Rockettes’ schedule,” Yamamoto says. “We had to manage their performance schedule—and this demanded a high level of organization on top of everything else.”
By the end of the 46–show run for Radio City Christmas Spectacular, news of the Rockettes had appeared in every major newspaper and on every broadcast affiliate in the Seattle area. “Going after those writers that wouldn’t generally cover arts and entertainment topics proved to be a huge success for us,” she says. Perhaps the biggest media hit was with the “Shaun Alexander Show” on Fox Sports Northwest. “We had worked with the producer of the show before, and we wound up doing some fun segments,” Yamamoto says. “The Rockettes taught [Seattle Seahawk running back] Shaun Alexander and [teammate kicker] Josh Brown how to do a victory dance for the end zone, and Shaun and Josh taught the Rockettes how to kick a football. We got a lot of play off of that because it was something so different.”
Lessons for PR
Read on as Yamamoto offers campaign-planning tips and explains why this campaign won the Bronze in Arts & Entertainment at the 2005 Bulldog Awards for Excellence in Media Relations & Publicity:
1. It takes a village—look to the community for partnerships
“Community outreach like our work with the Salvation Army and the Seattle Marathon was such a huge part of the success for this campaign,” Yamamoto confirms. “Getting the community involved really sparked interest—especially because this was a family event. Seeking out community partnerships is such an important part of media relations if you really want to get as much exposure as possible and broaden your audience.”
2. Get your team on the same page—streamline communications
“90 percent of the success for this campaign came from pre-planning,” she says. “We had a solid plan in place going back all the way to the summer—and we stuck to it. Our media relations team was a team of three people, so it was all about streamlining communication and making sure everyone was copied on emails. We also made sure we had a master document outlining every aspect of the campaign and a calendar with spaces where we could input who we called on what day, when each of the particular pieces ran, who we need to follow up with
and when. This kind of preparation and organization is necessary for any PR campaign.”
3. Take risks—creativity is the hallmark of stellar campaigns
Every aspect of this campaign—from the strategic targeting of editors and writers outside the arts and entertainment realm, to the unique partnering with groups like the salvation army—relied on taking daring risks and thinking beyond the obvious, conventional options. Too many PR campaigns are stunted by narrow focus and uninspired ideas, Yamamoto believes—and this campaign illustrates the extraordinary results that come from creative thinking and bold risk taking.
“As a result, we did a great job generating the buzz that we needed to,” Yamamoto says. “And as a result we ended up in every major newspaper, every community paper and every TV station in the region. And sales were so great in Seattle that the Rockettes can’t wait to come back.”
“This was truly a team effort agency-wide working diligently with our contacts within the community and among our other clients and media outlets,” says Yamamoto. “Radio City was as an excellent client to work with, and our sound relationship led to the success of this campaign.”Download this case study