Environmental Communications: EVERGLADES COALITION CONFERENCE DRAWS WIDESPREAD MEDIA ATTENTION

Environmental Communications: EVERGLADES COALITION CONFERENCE DRAWS WIDESPREAD MEDIA ATTENTION

CHALLENGE

The challenge was to focus public attention on efforts to save the Everglades, especially through the Everglades Restoration Program, as part of the 2009 Everglades Coalition Conference.  Bitner Group organized a successful three-month project to promote the Conference through aggressive publicity and to coordinate media during the meeting for positive exposure of this gathering of 51 Florida allied environmental and conservation organizations with more than 6 million combined members.

STRATEGY AND ACTION

The Public Relations program was broken down chronologically, by month, beginning October 1, 2008 through the end of January, 2009.

Advance Conference Press Materials – Organized and wrote advance conference materials for the media, including:

Media Alert for 2009 Conference

  • Packet of positive and varied press coverage from 2008
  • Collection of useful photography from 2008 or previous conferences

Updated Media List – Bitner Group reviewed the media list utilized for the 2008 Conference and contacted each publication to guarantee the most up-to-date information.  We also did significant research to add to the media list and identified bloggers who focus on the Florida Everglades and other environmental issues.

Release of Media Alert/Calendar Announcement to long lead publications – Our firm reached out to regional, state, national and international magazines with potential interest in publicizing the conference in their January issues.  The list included city magazines, business magazines, travel magazines, in-flight magazines and publications with a particular interest in environmental issues.

Advance Story Pitches — In addition to distributing a media alert/calendar announcement by e-mail and mail, we followed up with each long lead publication individually pitching “State of the Everglades” stories for the January issues of these magazines and sidebar information about the Conference.

Client Meetings/Brainstorming Sessions – Bitner Group representatives met with Conference organizers and worked closely with them (especially Sara Fain, Everglades Restoration Program Manager, Sun Coast Region, National Parks Conservation Association) to identify additional opportunities for advance publicity and other marketing needs.  These meetings also helped to finalize key messages for use throughout the program.

Media Sponsorship Solicitation – Bitner Group was able to secure a media sponsorship for the 2010 Conference by Florida Trend Magazine.

Distribution of Advance Press Materials to Everglades Coalition members and Conference sponsors – Our firm provided information about the Conference for inclusion on the Web sites and newsletters of the many Coalition members.

Advance Press Materials – We gathered and wrote materials to be used prior to and during the Conference, including fact sheets, position statements, biographies of key Conference participants and a general story about the Florida Everglades that presented the key messages of the Conference.

Op Ed Columns – We placed ghost-written op-eds by Sara Fain that appeared in newspapers across Florida as well as letters to the editor and met with the editorial board of the Sun-Sentinel.

Media Conference/Press Room – Working with Coalition leaders, Bitner Group finalized the plans for a press room at the 2009 Conference, coordinated a successful media conference and manned a separate informational booth in the Conference exhibit hall.

Distribution of Updated Media Alert and Credentials Applications – In mid-December, the firm issued an updated media alert to spell out significant details for the Conference.  We also distributed credentials applications to media (including bloggers) at the Conference.  These materials were also posted on a “Press” portion of the pre-Conference Website.

Onsite Media Registration – Bitner Group representatives handled media check-in and credentials at the 2009 Conference.

Conference Press Materials – Firm representatives helped finalize messages, developed the lead Conference press release, assembled Conference press kits and distributed kits to media attending the conference.

Daily Media Updates – A Bitner Group vice president covered all Conference sessions and reported newsworthy items.

Coordination of Media Interviews – In addition to the press conference, Bitner Group coordinated media interviews during the Conference, organizing locations for interviews to take place, and, coordinating the interview schedules of Conference presenters with their press relations representatives.

Follow up Conference Press Release – A wrap up release on the 2009 conference was distributed with relevant photos, and included information available on the 2010 Conference.

RESULTS

The Environmental Coalition was extremely pleased with the increased publicity of the Conference and especially of the messaging to move forward with the stalled Everglades Restoration Program. Media coverage was very extensive, nationally and locally, boosting event attendance and support for the Everglades Restoration Program.