Public Relations , B2G

Making a PR Splash for Marine Environmental Protection

Caitlin Bowman

Marine species are being trapped and entangled by derelict fishing gear, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) has granted over $1M for scuba divers to remove it to protect U.S. coastlines. Yes& has been working on behalf of NFWF to bring televised media coverage to the Gulf Coast, which resulted in NFWF being recognized with a prestigious Hermes award.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) supports conservation efforts in all 50 states and U.S. territories. NFWF’s grants go to large and small environmental organizations, funding more than 17,250 projects to date. NFWF wanted to draw attention to its Fishing for Energy program and its 40 grantees—including academic organizations, commercial fishing organizations like the Maine Lobster Association, recreational boaters, and ports—through a live press event in Punta Gorda, Florida.

As many Americans know, drift nets continue to catch and kill marine animals—including dolphins and whales—long after the nets are cut free. Lobster traps and crab pots are often lost, and can also remain on the ocean floor trapping and killing sea creatures. Because Punta Gorda is located far from larger Florida cities, Yes& had to break through the media clutter to generate media participation and coverage for this positive environmental story.

We capitalized on the presence of a group of scuba divers coming from Port Charlotte to demonstrate how debris is brought up from the Gulf of Mexico for collection. We also secured a TV reporter who was a certified scuba diver and offered him the opportunity to accompany the dive team. By emphasizing the major environmental impacts of lost or derelict fishing gear in trapping marine species and polluting Florida Gulf Coast habitats, we landed coverage from three television stations and a newspaper outlet.

The event achieved more than 645,000 media impressions for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Because a prominent Ft. Myers television anchor had the opportunity to join the divers and collect derelict fishing gear himself, NFWF achieved a great, visual televised story on the evening of September 25, 2019. This story has been merchandised to get other ports and commercial fishing organizations on-board.

Yes& received two Hermes awards for Public Relation excellence in Television Placement and Publicity Campaign. Hermes awards acknowledge and honor creative professionals who bring their ideas to life through traditional and digital platforms.

Here are six techniques Yes& used to create a successful event for NFWF. You can use these simple steps to attract media at your press event as well:

1. Create a targeted media list. Know what outlets and which reporters will cover your news. Local outlets are a great place to start.

2. Find your hook. Not all stories are breaking news, so find a selling point that makes your information relevant. Tailor your media pitch to each reporter—make your story fit their style and writing focus.
TIP: Government PR stories can be very fact-driven and full of research and technical information. This can be a lot for media outlets and the public to digest. Turn the reports and analysis into readable and easy to understand material that will sell in the media market.

3. Early outreach. The earlier you can flag the media’s calendars with your date, the more likely they are to attend. During early outreach tease the news you will share, and provide early access to materials or offer interviews with your event’s speakers.
TIP: Know who the speakers will be BEFORE you begin outreach. One of your selling points can be that a governor or government staff will be in attendance and quotable.

4. Know your information and call, call, call. Emails are a great way to connect with a reporter at first, but calling is the best way to secure an RSVP. Prepare what you want to say and sell your news. This is your best chance to get the reporter interested.
TIP: It can be challenging to land media coverage for government stories (unless the President himself is giving the news). Find ways to present a story that everyone should care about.

5. Come prepared for the event. You should have copies of the media advisory, press release, speaker bios, and all other relevant information available for media. Try to have a scenic backdrop for TV and media, but have a back-up plan if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Prep your speakers for interviews after the announcement. Connect with reporters after the event to answer any follow-up questions.
TIP: Government representatives appreciate discretion and don’t always want to be interviewed. If they will attend and speak, make sure you clear interviews with their team prior to the event.

6. Expect the unexpected. The media cycle is unpredictable, even with confirmed RSVPs— anything can happen the day of your event. Be prepared to take videos and photos throughout the day to share as assets later. Offer a virtual option for reporters if you can. Email all materials to reporters and offer to coordinate phone interviews with speakers after the announcement.
TIP: Breaking news will always take priority over your event, no matter how big or important your story is. Have a back-up plan for getting media coverage.

Yes& is the Washington, DC-based marketing agency that brings commercial, association, and government clients the unlimited power of “&” – using a full suite of branding, digital, event, marketing, public relations, and creative capabilities to deliver meaningful and measurable results.

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Caitlin Bowman
Caitlin Bowman
Public Relations Account Coordinator