28 May Media Success!
Most 720 clients are listed on the Fortune 500, but sometimes, the best clients come in small (business) packages. In 2014, we met Bree, owner of Bree’s Sweet Treats, an Accokeek, Maryland, bakery founded by the 16-year-old student, baker and entrepreneur. 720 has helped Bree deliver her very powerful message with consumers and the media, fine tune her website’s messaging, promote her bakery’s grand “reopening” after a store expansion and build relationships with local and national media.
Since then we’ve secured her a steady drumbeat of placements — the Washington Business Journal, Maryland Gazette, Washington, DC’s WTOP radio, “Yahoo Parenting,” Washington Post Express — and just this month, “Today” and ABC’s “The Chew.” How can you build a bank of stories that can lead to nationally televised shows?
Although Bree and her story are admittedly very special, there are lessons that any organization and any campaign can take away from her media relations success.
Good coverage starts with a compelling story and a great spokesperson.
Bree’s father suffered a traumatic brain injury serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a distraction, her great-grandmother and a close family friend began teaching Bree how to bake. With the help of her family, especially her mother Charmaine, Bree’s “distraction” went from an online business when she was 12 to a brick-and-mortar business at the age of 16, when her father died.
Feed the national media, but don’t ignore hometown outlets.
Bree’s story started out in a local newspaper, and in a matter of months, enabled us to secure national coverage. Building a bank of stories establishes your credibility and enables larger media to consider you as a viable newsmaker. We first created a local news hook for Bree’s story. First, we planned the “grand reopening” event, then we drafted a news release and contacted local reporters to garner interest. A Maryland Gazette reporter was intrigued and interviewed her along with a representative of Fisher House, the event’s charitable focus.
With the Gazette story in hand, we secured interviews with the Washington Business Journal, WTOP and The Washington Post’s Express, all of which profiled Bree and the bakery. Starting small can help you grow “big.”
Online media can dramatically further your story’s reach.
Our local stories piqued the interest of a “Yahoo Parenting” reporter, who also profiled Bree. That national article went viral. Our phones rang off the hook with interview requests, from the “Ellen DeGeneres” show to the “Steve Harvey” show. We even heard from a production company that wanted to make a reality TV show around Bree. As a result of the media coverage, Bree got invited to participate in a summer veterinary program — her other love — at North Carolina State University, and new customers emerged from coast to coast.
Next we packaged up all the profiles and stories and pitched “Today” and “The Chew.” Ultimately, both sent camera crews to Bree’s Accokeek bakery. Both of the shows’ producers praised Bree’s maturity and composure. She displayed a winning, down-to-earth personality that won them over. Bree is a natural spokeswoman; she delivers great soundbites and knows exactly how best to tell her story.
Losing is part of winning.
Several shows asked for exclusives. We chose “Today” and “The Chew” as the best venues. However, this led other national shows to pass. Essentially turning down free media seems illogical, but it’s part of the price you pay for such good national coverage.
National media can be tough but also be very kind.
“The Chew’s” producers invited Bree, her mother and her grandmother to New York to attend the taping where her segment would air. To her surprise, the host also invited Bree on stage to bake and “co-host” the show. Her live appearance included the presentation of a “Sweet 16” crown for the prom Bree didn’t get to attend, and her inclusion in a nearly 15-minute live segment — a rare “get” for anyone.
Meanwhile, “Today’s” Jenna Bush Hager traveled to Accokeek to interview Bree personally because she fell in love with Bree after hearing our initial pitch. Because of Jenna’s busy schedule, the segment took more than two months to finalize and shoot. During that period, we were awed by Jenna’s kindness and appreciated her ideas for boosting Bree’s business even further. When the story aired, Jenna chatted live about Bree and her bakery.
Never stop pitching.
Success culminating in national TV appearances doesn’t mean you get to rest. While our national coverage was in production, we secured several other interviews in the D.C. market, including Voice of America, Radio One and Fox News in Baltimore.
Great coverage creates surprising opportunities.
The media attention Bree received helped establish a significant presence for Bree’s Sweet Treats and increased delivery and catering orders as well as foot traffic to the bakery. Most recently, the Maryland Black Mayors recognized Bree with its 2014 Outstanding Leader Award. Bree has received more than $3,500 in donations to help retire her mom’s bakery debt for the café expansion, and she and the bakery continue raking in media requests.
Pay it forward.
720 has adopted marketing Bree’s Sweet Treats as a pro bono cause. It feels great to help a young woman with so much potential and a family that has given so much to our country. As you may suspect, running a small business is tough. Bree is trying hard to erase her single mother’s debt in building the business. If you’d like to support Bree’s Sweet Treats, you can do so by ordering delicious baked goods, sharing Bree’s story, inviting Bree to cater your event or supporting her GoFundMe campaign at gofundme.com/r2r5tc. Her website is treatsbybree.com.
When you’re ready to secure coverage for your organization, contact us at 720. Most of our work is focused on big clients with big issues; but even when the client is small, we mean business. Here’s to your and Bree’s sweet success.