Category Archives: Public Relations/Media

Stitching together a podcast launch public relations strategy

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For the launch of Endless Thread, a new podcast by WBUR and Reddit, my team at Greenough, in collaboration with WBUR and Reddit, developed a tailored media strategy to cultivate media interest and drive awareness of this unprecedented partnership in which WBUR producers Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson delve into Reddit’s boundless communities to explore some of the most compelling stories the internet has to offer, including revelations about shared experiences and powerful, personal stories.

Although podcasts are tremendously popular with consumers, there is a lot of competition among new podcasts and a small pool of media outlets and reporters covering the medium. Thus, our media strategy was developed to distinguish Endless Thread from the competition. We did this by focusing our attention on building momentum leading up to the launch by providing advance access to the producers and to the content. This included leveraging the Third Coast Festival by hosting a pre-launch event in which the podcast was previewed by select members of the media, drafting a press release and identifying specific media targets to conduct advanced outreach prior to the official announcement of the podcast, and conducting aggressive outreach and follow-up to a comprehensive list of media whose coverage areas span business, technology, media, podcasting and culture.

As a result of executing this plan, we secured 18 pieces of coverage and generated considerable interest even if it did not result in immediate coverage. On the day of the announcement, December 5, 2017, we saw extensive coverage in Nieman Lab’s Hot Pod, Variety, Current, CNET, BostInno, Boston Business Journal and Radio Ink. As we continued follow-up with media throughout December and into January, sharing previews of the first two episodes we secured additional coverage leading up to the official launch in Vulture and Columbia Journalism Review. Following the launch on January 12, we saw coverage in the CBC’s Podcast Playlist, Refinery29, AV Club’s Podmass, the Bello Collective, Boston Globe, Harvard Crimson, The Upgrade, USA Today, and TIME.

The best part of all this coverage we garnered was that there was an amazing amount of enthusiasm and excitement about Endless Thread.

  • Vulture proclaimed that it was one of “The 12 Podcasts We Can’t Wait to Hear in 2018”
  • Refinery 29 featured it as one of “The Brand New Podcasts Of 2018 We’re Most Excited About”
  • Time named it one of “The 50 Best Podcasts to Listen to Right Now”
  • USA Today declared it is one of the “5 news podcasts you should be listening to”

I credit this success to a great idea, a fantastic product, strategic planning, and teamwork among all of the partners.

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Raising awareness for a grassroots effort

I was recently asked by a group of concerned citizens to help with their efforts to raise awareness around the issue of erosion on Plum Island’s northern point. The erosion has been caused by construction of a jetty at the mouth of the Merrimack River and exacerbated by climate change. In just four years since the Army Corps of Engineers fixed the jetty, 400 feet of dunes have been lost.

To help frame the situation and effectively communicate the complex problem, I worked with the leader of the local community group, Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday, and Massachusetts Senator Bruce Tarr to place “Fighting Against the Tide” in the Boston Globe North section on Sunday, April 22, 2018. Correspondent Linda Greenstein provided thoughtful analysis of the issue facing the residents of Plum Island.


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Finding a diamond in the rough

David Friend Hall Opening

How my team at Greenough helped shape and tell the story of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History’s 150th anniversary

On the occasion of its 150th anniversary, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History sought to do two things: 1) To change the perception that natural history museums have remained unchanged and stuck in the past since their founding; and 2) To present itself as the preeminent museum for gems and minerals with the opening of a new, state-of-the-art gem and mineral gallery, David Friend Hall.

Greenough saw this as a perfect opportunity to increase institutional awareness and reposition the organization as an innovative, forward-thinking natural history museum. We developed a long-lead, national media strategy to enhance the institution’s reputation, increase visibility, and reframe the Museum to shift public perception.

To do this, we conducted in-depth research in the natural history museum field and held input meetings with Peabody leadership to gain a better understanding of their vision and goals. We then developed a comprehensive media strategy founded on proactive, long-lead outreach to priority media to meet the Peabody’s objectives.

We began executing this strategy by crafting a core set of key messages that conveyed the Peabody’s vision for the sesquicentennial and beyond, and the importance of David Friend Hall to the Peabody, the natural history museum and science community, and the greater public. We then created an inventory of possible story angles to reach the broadest audiences across varying outlets such as science, mineral and gem, art, museum, philanthropy and lifestyle trades as well as national and local cultural coverage.

DSC_0451Once those initial pieces were in place, Greenough conducted a national media campaign, securing more than 75 pieces of coverage spanning national top tier daily news outlets, local Connecticut publications, science and mineral trades, and philanthropy and cultural trade publications. The Wall Street Journal published a stunning review of the institution, USA Today named David Friend Hall one of the “12 best U.S. museum exhibits to see this fall,Rock & Gem featured David Friend Hall as the cover story of the October issue, and Connecticut Magazine developed a 2,000-word, 9-page spread, feature article. Our resulting coverage had the potential to reach a print circulation of more than 2.1 million readers, and our online coverage had the potential to garner a total of nearly 153 million monthly unique impressions.

So we were able to increase institutional awareness and raise visibility, but did we shift perceptions and highlight the Peabody’s stellar collection? The answer is yes. In each piece of coverage, each author makes a note of the institution’s innovations and underscores its relevancy now more than ever.

For example, Wall Street Journal critic at large, Ed Rothstein wrote,

“The museum is remarkably free of commercial clamor and condescension, and free too of the political posturing that can make it feel as if curators were wagging fingers through display cases. The Peabody re-establishes the natural history museum as the domain of impassioned collectors and teachers.”

As a result of this strategic public relations campaign, the Peabody has seen a steady and consistent increase in the number of visitors to the Museum. During the opening month, attendance increased 45% from the previous October, and November and December continued with a 17% and 10% increase, respectively.

We are pleased to see our efforts directly impact attendance numbers and shape the public’s perception of the Peabody. And, as an added bonus, Greenough was awarded honorable mention for the 2017 PR News Nonprofit PR Awards.

So, just as a diamond needs to be polished to find its inherent brilliance, so too, do institutions need to revamp their messaging and have a strong, strategic PR program to ensure they stand out and shine.

This article first appeared on the Greenough blog on March 22, 2017. 

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The Evolving Print Edition: How consumer habits are impacting major publications

screenshot-of-wsj-coverageReviews of my clients, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and the Museum of World War II, appeared side-by-side in the Wall Street Journal in December 2016. 

To conform to shifting reader habits and the quickening news cycle, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have both recently reorganized their publishing formats—most notably impacting the arts sections—and the Boston Globe is undergoing an audit of its editorial department.

The New York Times cut its local tri-state culture coverage in August and redesigned its arts section in December, concentrating on consumer-focused pieces such as “Show Us Your Wall” and cutting the weekly column, “Inside Art,” which had served as a “must-read” for everyone in the art market.

The Wall Street Journal launched a new print format with fewer sections in November. The publication introduced a new “Business & Finance” section which combined “Business & Tech” and “Money & Investing” and a new “Life & Arts” section which combined “Personal Journal” and “Arena.” Like the Times, the Journal also reduced its regional “Greater New York” coverage.

The Boston Globe is rethinking how the editorial department should function with today’s shortened news cycle. Rather than adhering to the deadlines demanded by the print schedule, the Globe will publish stories online throughout the day and night. To meet this end, they are creating an “Express Desk” to post breaking news and jump on trending stories.

The overarching result of these changes is reduced print coverage.

With limited space to work with, editors must decide which stories are selected for print. And not all make the cut. For example, although a recent review of the Museum of World War II’s anti-Semitism exhibition was featured in full in the Wall Street Journal’s print edition, a WSJ article on recreational marijuana in the workplace featuring Mirick O’Connell was shortened for print. In some cases, a story slated for publication gets bumped for a breaking news story, which was the case with a WSJ review of the Yale Peabody Museum when a Christie’s executive announced he was stepping down the same day. Or it may be delegated as an online only story, such as the WSJ review of the Museum of World War II’s exhibition on Pearl Harbor, which was never slated for the print edition in the first place.

In the digital age, where social media reigns, the idea that a story may only be published online is not necessarily a negative. It simply reflects our shifting news consumption habits.

With online stories, we can share content with a broader audience and bolster the reach of the coverage. As we have seen with the rise of Buzzfeed, the ability to share and “like” has a tangible, measurable and significant impact on the reach of digital media coverage.

Additionally, we are also in a golden age of video and audio reports shared through digital platforms.  Boston’s own NPR station, WBUR, continues to see strong support from its listeners and donors to expand its offerings and to report through new digital platforms. This year alone, WBUR launched a new website and mobile app which focus on the user experience of listening. It also launched the new education vertical, Edify, and received a $3 million grant from the Barr Foundation to bolster its arts and culture reporting, The ARTery. This is just one example of the kind of shift and dispersion occurring in the media landscape.

As we continue to witness the evolution of media, it’s important to understand the new limitations in print coverage, to manage the expectations of our clients and to be prepared to capitalize on the next trend in media.

This article first appeared on the Greenough blog on January 17, 2017. 

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