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Saving Energy and Creating a Buzz: Making the Most of a Media Moment

On January 26, 2012 Precision Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electric of Boulder, CO made history as they unveiled the first all-electric service truck in the plumbing, HVAC and electrical residential service industry. As their public relations partner, we had the pleasure of pitching, securing and coordinating local and national news coverage for this event.

Everything was running smoothly. We had some great pre-publicity, we had written and designed an attention-getting invitation for the unveiling event and mailed it to the media, city and state government officials and Precision customers and friends. The event would be spectacular, complete with a ceremonial rising of a garage door to reveal the beautiful, shiny and energy efficient creation. Everything was in place and I was about to fly to Denver to coordinate it all and bask in the glory of another fabulous C.E.L. media extravaganza.

Enter President Obama. On January 18th, Denver media reported that he was coming to Denver on, yes, January 26th! Now, as a former TV news assignment editor, I knew what this meant. All media eyes and cameras would be on the President on January 26th, sucking away every ounce of media coverage that we had worked passionately to secure.

What to do. What to do…well, Boulder, Colorado, is one of the green capitols of the world. I wonder if President Obama might mention energy and green initiatives on his visit designed to win votes in Colorado? Bingo! Enter the Denver Governor’s office and his energy department. I got on the phone with their director of public relations and low and behold, she loved learning more about the first all electric service truck, unveiled in her state.

Okay, I know you’re thinking that the President paid a visit to Precision to see the truck unveiled. Lord knows, I tried to get him there, but these things don’t happen overnight, and he had already made plans to speak at a military base in Denver. However, we made some very strategic moves to keep media coverage in our pockets, which is what I want to share. So, if you’re ever in a similar situation, you’ll know what to do.

Sometimes if you don’t have the spice you want, you have to use a substitute. This is the second time in my career that I’ve had to do this. The first was the day the I-35W Bridge collapsed, right before the opening of the Uptown Art Fair in Minneapolis and all of my television segments for the Art Fair were cancelled.  That time, we called the Salvation Army and invited them to bring their red kettles to the event to take donations for the families of the people killed and injured in the collapse. Win-win!

In Denver and Boulder, we made it our mission to let the media know that President Obama planned to talk about energy while in Colorado, making our story a hotter hook.

We also scrambled to create a media “sneak peak” the day before the event, giving the press time to file the story before setting their sites on the President. The result was live TV coverage, a major article in the Denver Post, the Denver Business Journal, Boulder Daily Camera, Long Mont Times, Boulder County Business Report and many others. In addition, two representatives from the Colorado Governor’s energy office attended the unveiling event and offered their support of Precision owner Tom Robichaud and his commitment green initiatives in the Governor’s office, the community and the media.

I’m not in the habit of calling our president a lemon, but in this case, we turned the souring of our event into a sweet result!

Published on: February 13, 2012