Case Study: local media relations

  • Tunbridge Wells Harriers Running Club & Tunbridge Wells Hendy Half-Marathon, February 2019

    Tunbridge Wells Harriers are the organisers of the Tunbridge Wells Half-Marathon, an annual event, celebrating its 36th year, which takes place throughout the town and surrounding villages, attracting over 1500 participants and raising substantial funds for local charities.

    The Brief: secure coverage in the local media, both pre and post-event, to

    • Encourage sign-up from participants
    • Raise awareness among the local community
    • Encourage roadside support for the event
    • Ensure affected residents are informed, including about rolling road closures
    • Celebrate the success of one of the ‘most popular’ half-marathons in the South-East.

    Our Challenge: the short timescale

    We were brought in just a month prior to the event, meaning that we missed out on many of the local monthly publications’ print deadlines, with time now a critical factor.

    The Approach

    We concentrated on the local angles and sharing the interesting stories which motivated runners to participate in the event.  Working closely with the Harriers, we selected four local runners, all of whom had strong back stories to share.

    We conducted interviews during the two weeks prior to the event and wrote up the stories, with photos, half-marathon course information, check-in procedures and road-closure details included in the information submitted to local print press.

    On the day, at the start/finish line, we conducted interviews with the winners, as well as participants who were running for the first time, or were veterans, pacers, or who had run in fancy-dress to support their fundraising goals.

    Our in-house photographer took action shots as the race passed through one of the outlying villages not covered by the official photography team, which was primarily concentrating on the start/finish line.

     Results

    Pre-event coverage was secured in both newspapers serving Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding area. This included a double-page spread in the Kent and Sussex Courier and a full page in the Times of Tunbridge Wells.

    Pre-event features included all the personality profile pieces we had produced, including the previous year’s winner and runner-up (both of whom had a local connection, the runner-up also being the youngest participant in the race), the fastest female runner, one of the eldest runners and her duties as a pacer, as well as one or two other interesting participants, charity fundraisers, etc.

    Post-event coverage included the front page and a double-page spread in the Kent and Sussex Courier, a full-page spread in the Times of Tunbridge Wells and a full-page spread in the bi-monthly village magazine Langton Life.

    Post-event coverage included details of the winning runners’ times and quotes from interviews undertaken on the day, along with a collection of photographs taken by our in-house photographer, which were used as part of a spread alongside those taken by other photographers covering the race.

    Monthly magazines supported the event via their social media profiles.

    This widespread coverage helped to ensure excellent support from members of the public lining the streets on the course and encouraged a last-minute flurry of registrations in the final days leading up to the race, including 40 on the day itself.

    At the time of writing, the final amount of funds raised for local charities has not been confirmed but is likely to be in excess of £17,000.

    Testimonial

    “The Harriers managed to acquire the services of Islay O’Hara about a month before the half-marathon, to raise its profile locally via the press and local media. This was to potentially make people aware of the event and to possibly encourage more entries. To this end, Islay did a terrific job, plus she provided post-event coverage afterwards and certainly raised the profile of this year’s event.

    Working with Islay was a pleasure and we will be looking to using her services for next year’s race, albeit a bit earlier.”

    Mark Taylor, Race Organiser, Tunbridge Wells Harriers

    More information on the Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon can be found via the Tunbridge Wells Harriers http://www.twharriers.org.uk/about-us/

    If you would like us to help with publicity and PR for your event, please contact Islay O’Hara on 07801 240127 or islay@islayohara.co.uk