Challenge

Gaining National Media Coverage

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) created the first-ever condition status report, which includes all states and territories, on the health of coral reefs.

This report considered four categories of data collected between 2012 and 2018 to determine the health score of corals and algae abundance, reef fish populations, the influence of climate on coral reefs, and human connections to reefs. UMCES wanted to draw attention to its new Coral Reef Condition Report through a press event that would be held virtually due to COVID-19.

There was no shortage of challenges stacked against this press conference. Yes& had to secure media coverage for all U.S. regions that have a coast, break through the media clutter of the Presidential Election that was a week prior, and keep the environmental media focus on the report before a tropical storm was predicted to hit the Gulf of Mexico the day of the event.

Solution

Attacking One Thing at a Time

Yes& relied on our experience and expertise in the field of environmental PR to achieve what seemed impossible. Here’s how we did it:

Securing National Coverage

Yes& created targeted media lists, pitch notes, and advisories for three separate regions: Pacific, Atlantic, and the Gulf. This allowed us to highlight the differences for each region and showcase how the reefs were being represented in the report. We also hosted this event at 12:30 pm EST to create a convenient time for both West and East Coast reporters to attend.

Breaking through the Media Clutter

With the election and government updates taking over news coverage, we capitalized on the power of the data in the report. Each ocean basin was assigned a score that will help to inform policymakers and the public on how coral reef ecosystems are faring. Yes& also secured VIPs Senator Brian Schatz (HI) and Admiral Timothy Gallaudet, Assistant Secretary for NOAA, to speak at the event in support of the report and its findings.

Running Ahead of the Storm

There is nothing more daunting than a huge tropical storm on its way to hit a region where you are trying to announce an environmental issue. Yes& did two key things to ensure media coverage in those states – stayed connected to the reporters and recorded the announcement.

  • We shared the press release and report card on embargo with reporters who had already RSVP’ed. By doing this, we could ensure we wouldn’t scoop our own news, but provided those reporters the flexibility they needed to get and digest the information.
  • Yes& also offered these reporters the opportunity to interview UMCES representatives prior to the event so they could go live at 12:30 with their stories.
  • By recording the event, we gave reporters who were unable to attend the chance to still pull sound bites and cover the coral reefs.
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Results

Virtual Works!

Yes& achieved more than 521M impressions with coverage in 46 states plus D.C. Outlets that covered the event include, but are not limited to, the Associated Press, FOX 5 News, NPR - Tallahassee, CBS Miami, Star Advertiser - Honolulu.

While this press conference seemed to keep getting bigger and our job never seemed quite done, Yes& proved that national coverage was achievable despite COVID-19 being an on-going issue.