The 9th annual Johnson City Up & At ‘Em Turkey Trot 5K Road Race and Family Fun Run has come and gone like last week’s turkey leftovers. With over 4,000 participants including runners, walkers, strollers, wheelchair racers and dogs, it was deemed a huge success by everyone involved. Universally participants and all committee members have told us that the publicity for this Family 5K was the best ever. The value gained from press, media, and promotions was worth many thousands of dollars.
Here are four tips that helped the Public Relations plan work:
- Set a goal: Know your goals, in this case the numbers of participants you are going for at the start.
- Have a Team of Professionals: This year we had a total of 5 marketing/public relations professionals working together. We met weekly and followed up on our action items including lots of interface with the media. We were a subcommittee to the main race committee and operated independently concentrating only on the publicity aspect of the event. The race director was a member of both our committee and the main race committee.
- Press Conferences can still work – if done right: We opted to hold a press conference to launch this year’s event. We held it in an elementary school (that consistently has the most student participants). We gave it a pep rally feel, complete with hundreds of students screaming in the gym. The beloved local anchorman was emcee and covered the event live on the popular morning TV show. We brought in mascots from a variety of local businesses and held a race with the turkey (guess who won?) This was also a good opportunity to recognize our sponsors.
- Get a celebrity/celebrities involved: One of our team members knew last season’s Biggest Loser top five finalist Jennifer Messer. Jennifer lives nearby. She was more than eager to help us as parade grand marshal, with the press conference, with media interviews and with social media. Having the power of celebrity behind a cause can really boost an event!
When the actual day arrived, despite snow, cold and wind, the people turned out! For many it’s become a family tradition to burn off a few calories before sitting down to feast. I walked it with my dog, Lucky, and a friend. (This is one of the few races that allows dogs and this year hundreds of well-behaved canines on short leashes strolled or jogged with their handlers.)
These are just a few of the PR tips that went into this event’s success. Do you have additional thoughts or ideas as we look to implement an even bigger and better race next year?