Creative Event PR At Its Best As The Circus Comes To Town

When an annual event like the circus rolls into town, crowds seem to naturally flock to the scene. But can the same be said of reporters? It can be a challenge to get journalists excited about an event they believe remains unchanged from year to year. But, with the right creative strategy,  it’s possible to generate coverage — and a lot of it!

Feld Entertainment, the owners of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, enlisted DGC’s help to increase ticket sales and visibility in New York and New Jersey for the newest incarnation of the famed circus, “Built to Amaze!” DGC’s “Team Feld” recently wrapped up this whirlwind project promoting five weeks of performances in four different arenas – Prudential Center in Newark, NJ; IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ; Nassau Coliseum on Long Island and Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  DGC knew that securing media coverage would be an integral part of this plan, and doing so would mean some serious “thinking outside the box.”

The team got to flex their creative muscles as they built and delivered an extensive Public Relations strategy, encompassing traditional media relations, event activation and creative photo opportunities, that accentuated the diverse and talented performers who “amazed” every night.  With resources like the world’s youngest female human cannonball, a tiger tamer with 18 giant cats and a diverse team of performers from Ringling Bros.’ renowned “Clown Alley,” the team had much fodder to work with.

For example, the team arranged for three Ringling Brother’s clowns to go on a grand “Clown Tour of NYC” which saw the inside of a yellow cab, the top of the Empire State building and some serious clowning around in Grand Central.  Other PR events included “An Amazing Day in Newark” featuring the King Charles Troupe (picture the Harlem Globetrotters – on unicycles!) and Newark Mayor Cory Booker; and a St. Patrick’s Day gathering where local young step dancers taught circus performers some traditional Irish dance moves.

The results were phenomenal. Team Feld garnered press in major NY/NJ outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Post, Newark Star Ledger, Crain’s New York Business, Good Day New York, NY1, WABC and more.

With a grueling few months behind us and goals truly surpassed, we took a look back to give some top insights on how companies can excel in event PR.

  • What’s the headline? When pitching media, a big brand like the circus can get your foot in the door, but you still need to sell the angle that will keep reporters interested. Leveraging holidays and special events in a meaningful way in order to create a relevant narrative around them. The event can be a great hook, but you still need to present the story around it.
  • What’s the story? Pitching something complex like the circus means you need all of the facts and funny stories to execute efficiently and get the “story” right. In getting to the heart of the story, be creative and don’t rule out any ideas – you never know what reporters may cover!
  • Keep your ducks in a row: Organization is key to staying on top of big projects like this. Take copious notes and keep an updated calendar to keep your team on track. Be flexible and remember that things will always change. Be proud of your ideas, but also accept that compromise is essential.  Address any issues early and communicate openly.
  • Use your voice: Always pick up the phone, especially when working with broadcast media. Producers get 100s of emails a day and more often than not, the narrative sounds much stronger when you can talk somebody through it with passion, confidence and conviction.
  • Keep calm and carry on. Event PR can be a fast-paced beast, so you have to be agile, take things in stride and work as a team.

Check out a few of the standout pieces:

The Wall Street Journal – Air Apparent

CBS Live from the Couch – Circus Experience

New York Post – Ringling Bros. Circus is a Craze Sure to Amaze

Posted on June 6, 2013, in The Hit Board and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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