How EPR does Derby
Two minutes, that’s the length of the legendary horse race in our home city of Louisville, Ky. Prepping for Kentucky Derby coverage starts 20 weeks earlier.
Estes Public Relations has 10 Louisville food and beverage clients on the roster for 2016. Our first Derby meeting is often in early January for the annual event held the first Saturday in May. After taking stock of new clients, old friends and emerging trends, we make our plans for pitches and get to work. This year is the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby, so being topical and bringing fresh ideas each year is key to great PR.
And we’re off…
By February, we were setting up interviews and tastings with a freelance writer working on a Louisville travel story for a major newspaper; had secured a multi-page recipe feature for a Southern lifestyle magazine; and were in talks with several freelancers looking for new ideas for everything from cocktail roundups to local culture pieces and new restaurant features.
Because we have been Louisville’s leading food and beverage PR firm for more than a decade, many journalists come straight to us, rather than us pitching. We also continue to work hand-in-hand with our local convention and tourism bureau to accommodate media requests. We’ll field these inquiries for much of March and April.
The first turn…
The increasing prevalence of social media in journalism fuels our team to be more creative, brainstorming new and click-worthy content to promote our clients. Whether it’s an outrageous cocktail, celebrity tie-in or over-the-top entrée, we look at what the media wants and find new opportunities each year to inject our client stories into the bigger Derby picture.
Estes PR specializes in earned media, pitching relevant and noteworthy articles instead of paying for sponsored content. The Kentucky Derby is filled with big-name advertisers, so our local restaurants, chefs and food and beverage brands benefit from having us as their jockey to compete in a crowded field (much like the 20-horse race itself). Longshots (like non-bourbon spirits), pedigrees (like historic hotels and staple eateries), and upstarts (like brand new restaurants) work with Estes PR each year.
Into the home stretch…
While long-lead publications look for Kentucky Derby recipes and Louisville travel content early in the year, online outlets and regional newsrooms do much of their work in April and early May. The most exciting 2-hours in PR happens at the Churchill Downs race track’s backside where every local and many national and regional television and radio outlets broadcast live each morning of the week leading up to the race. Estes Public Relations books live television segments with chefs and bartenders, picks up radio interviews on the fly, and mingles with media influencers during whirl-wind sessions.
Our eclectic client line-up helps us match journalists with the best interview subject or expert for whatever they need. Want a perfectly mixed (and picture-perfect) mint julep? Got it. Need a chef to give tips on Kentucky Derby entertaining? Done. Have an outside-the-box idea for a shoot? We’ll make it happen!
The Derby finish line…
Because our stable is more than just Louisville, we also work diligently to manage our time to keep our non-Kentucky clients just as top of mind. Time management, strategic planning and Southern charm help us ensure everyone is happy and can relax on Derby Day.