“What Is Celtic? How Do You Pronounce That?”
Media relations for the Gulf Coast Celtic Fling & Highland Games
A media relations campaign — and its resulting week of high-value feature news coverage — helps Pennsylvania producers successfully launch a Florida edition of their Celtic event.
- A time-crunched, first-time event. With less than two months for both planning and implementation, the public relations campaign focused on providing experiential and visual storytelling opportunities across multiple outlets over a single week.
- Pitching the “events within the event.” The Celtic Fling’s array of competitions, activities, and performances made it possible to tailor pitches and work with media outlets to uncover stories that were of high interest and value to their audiences.
- A concentrated week of Celtic Fling coverage. A mix of pre-recorded packages, live shots, and in-studio performances aired across three TV stations: Sarasota-Bradenton’s ABC affiliate WWSB, plus Tampa Bay’s WTVT-FOX 13 and WTSP Channel 10. Feature articles and more ran in the Bradenton Herald, Herald-Tribune, and alt-weeklies Weekly Planet and Creative Loafing.
First-time event = multiple challenges
Via my account executive and public relations roles at van Zandt Marketing Services, I served as the PR lead for the Gulf Coast Celtic Fling & Highland Games.
In addition to the usual challenges of promoting an inaugural event, we had less than two months to mount a marketing and publicity campaign that could have easily taken twice that time.
The two-day Fling encompassed:
- Bagpipe, drum, and band competitions;
- Scottish and Irish dance exhibitions;
- Athletic events;
- Concerts by internationally recognized Celtic musicians;
- A vendor marketplace;
- Scottish and Irish cuisine, and more.
Targeted pitches, focusing on the “events within the event”
By pitching individual “events within the event” to specific regional news outlets, editors, producers, and beat journalists, I turned the multi-component nature of the Celtic Fling into a media opportunity.
This strategy yielded a notable amount of television and newspaper coverage during the week leading up to (and following) the Fling.
Results: a high volume of high-quality media coverage
A week packed with high-profile news and feature coverage translated into attendees for the Celtic Fling — and earned a new client for the agency (and me).
For more than five years after the event, I served as the publicist for acclaimed Irish musician Gregory Grene and his band, The Prodigals.
Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Good Day Tampa Bay
WTVT-FOX 13 (Tampa)
A taped package (with demonstrations) aired twice during the morning broadcast in conjunction with on-location live shots (food and beverage tastings).
March 12-March 18, 2003
“Emerald Style: The Prodigals revel in their heritage without the cute gimmicks”
Weekly Planet/Creative Loafing (Tampa/Sarasota)
Interview with Gregory Grene of The Prodigals to promote the band’s Sunday evening performance.
Arts & Entertainment: “Planet Picks: Two-Day Fling”
Natasha Del Toro
Weekly Planet (Sarasota)
Featured event listing for the week.
Thursday, March 13, 2003
This Morning Around the Bay
WTSP – Channel 10 (CBS – Tampa)
Live, in-studio musical performance, plus bumpers in and out of a commercial break.
On the Scene With Sheryl Greene
WWSB-ABC 40 (Sarasota)
Taped segment that aired during the 5 p.m. news and the following morning’s Sunrise show. Focused on Celtic Fling as one of the best events for that weekend.
Friday, March 14, 2003
ABC-40 News at Sunrise
Anchors: Richelle Ridgeway and Ken Jefferson
Live, in-studio performances by multiple Celtic Fling participants aired throughout the broadcast. (Included: a dedicated segment, a rerun of Sheryl Greene’s package, and a live performance to close out the show.)
“Celtic Fling: A gathering of cultures & customs”
Rod Harmon, photos from Celtic Fling/Gary Sweetman
Bradenton Herald: Weekend
Cover story and centerfold, in collaboration with event sponsor, which included:
- Feature article/preview;
- Glossary of Celtic terms;
- Interview with Gregory Grene of The Prodigals;
- Sidebar profiling other musical performers; and
- Photography feature focusing on Irish dancers.
“Celtic cultures on center stage in Palmetto”
Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Ticket
Feature article in advance of the event, including interviews with event producers and talent.
Sunday, March 16, 2003
“Celtic Fling soaked in culture”
Abby Weingarten, photos by Alex Diaz
Bradenton Herald, p. 1 of Local & State section
Overview article about Saturday’s festivities.
Monday, March 17, 2003
“Irish pride floods Celtic fling, games”
Abby Weingarten, photos by Tiffany Tompkins
Photo caption on front page of Local & Business section.
Plus: news article with a focus on Sunday’s activities.
Photo: “Piping Practice”
Manatee Herald-Tribune, p. 3B
Members of the City of Dunedin Pipe Band practicing before their competition.