Public relations for Bradenton’s Bishop Planetarium
A long-term public relations strategy helps make the local planetarium a go-to stop for regional media. (And has a positive impact on the home-grown attraction’s attendance.)
- A chance to tell great stories. In-house expertise, targeted pitches, and collaborative media relationships yielded creative, educational news opportunities.
- Consistent editorial and promotional coverage from local and regional media. A successful track record with Bradenton-Sarasota media also caught the attention of Tampa Bay media. (~50 miles away)
- These relationships led to significant earned media — including articles, airtime, co-promotions, and sponsorships. Often on a repeat basis.
- The Lunar Eclipse Party drew an estimated 1,800 visitors for a rare weeknight event.
A favorite local attraction
Bishop Planetarium was a genuine institution for Suncoast Floridians, from its late-1960s founding through the early 2000s.
When I worked there, most year-round Bradenton residents had visited the facility at least once.
Beyond school field trips, star shows, laser lightshows, and observatory sessions, many also took part in off-site educational programs at local schools and across Manatee County.
Resident astronomers and volunteers also hosted timely events tied to astronomical phenomena. These provided high-profile opportunities for public education and outreach.
I handled marketing, public relations, and media sponsorships for these events, in addition to promoting the planetarium’s standard programs.
A gifted subject-matter expert
Then-Planetarium Director George Fleenor is incredibly knowledgeable. He also has a genuine talent for engaging his audience and sparking their enthusiasm for astronomy. Whether he’s teaching students, providing background for reporters, or chatting on-air or on-camera.
A great spokesperson
+ friendly, proactive pitches
= innovative news coverage.
Our team’s dedication to astronomy education and interactive storytelling led to coverage beyond the usual TV standups and newspaper blurbs. Examples include:
- Live feeds, plus how-to and safety demonstrations before and during solar eclipses; and
- Fox 13’s Russell Rhodes and crew camping out overnight with astronomers to learn about a major, multi-evening meteor shower.
(In addition to the pre-recorded feature package, they even conducted several live shots during the following morning’s “Good Day Tampa Bay” broadcast.)
A Lunar Eclipse Party
The January 2000 Lunar Eclipse Party is representative of astronomy special programs.
The event attracted an estimated crowd of 1,800 throughout a Thursday evening, as well as significant print and broadcast coverage.
- The Bradenton Herald, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and CNN.com ran pre- and post-event articles.
- FOX 13’s “Good Day Tampa Bay” aired a pre-event morning live shot and segment.
- FOX 13 (Tampa) and SNN Newschannel 6 (Sarasota) featured the event in their day-of newscasts.
- And then-AAA radio station 102.5 FM (Tampa-St. Petersburg) held an evening-long live remote.