Landing National Media Without Being the Center of Attention

By Solveig Raftery, The Firm Public Relations and Marketing

When it comes to national media, it doesn’t always have to be about you, you, you to make a lasting impression. So long as you are part of a compelling story, the message will stick.

The Firm Public Relations and Marketing’s client, Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada (CCCN), was approached by a mother, Elizabeth, and her five-year-old daughter Abby, who wanted to distribute care packages to chemotherapy and cancer patients at CCCN offices throughout the Las Vegas valley.

This delivery though, was part of a larger initiative by Elizabeth and young Abby, who was inspired by her grandmother who had battled (and won!) breast cancer. Abby decided to help other cancer patients through “Abby’s Purple Bag Project”. The goal was to distribute 1,000 purple bags full of items that would be useful for cancer patients while at their appointments or during chemotherapy treatments (items including water, socks, game books, lip balm, candy, etc.).

But the plan wasn’t for solely Abby to deliver the 1,000 bags. To help spread the word the family created a Facebook page – “Abby’s Purple Bag Project” – and through the course of a few months the page had racked up 600 followers. Each time they received a message or post on Facebook that a purple bag delivery was made in a specific state, Abby would color that state on a large map of the U.S.

Earlier this year, CCCN mentioned Abby and her story to the team at The Firm, noting that Abby was planning another purple bag delivery to a CCCN clinic. Following the meeting, Jasen Woehrle, The Firm’s Senior Vice President said that his internal “this would be great national media” alarm went off. This story was prime for a national audience – a feel good story with nothing but a positive message.

National media is something that many want, but is sometimes difficult to garner – unless you are or represent a celebrity or well-known entity, brand or product. Editors and producers at national media outlets get hit with thousands of pitches daily. To rise above the clutter you have to have something that would be appealing to that media outlet’s audience.

The Firm pitched a producer at the Today Show that we had communicated with in the past (without much success, but we still communicated with her!). Our email subject line was simple: “Five year old girl brings joy and comfort to cancer patients”

Within 10 minutes we had a response that the pitch had been forwarded on to senior producers. Great! But we receive similar responses regularly from local producers usually meaning, “we’ll call you if we want you.”

Within the next 20 minutes we were contacted by another producer who wanted more information and to discuss the pitch on the phone. Within the next two weeks, the story was confirmed and the producer/camera was coming to Las Vegas to interview Abby, Elizabeth, a CCCN oncologist and patients visiting CCCN who were the beneficiaries of Abby’s sweet gifts and warm heart. Our client knew the focus of the story would not be about them, but about this little girl in our own neighborhood giving to people in our community.

A few weeks following the taping, the segment aired nationally on the Today Show as part of its “Hope To It” series – inspiring thousands across the country to help Abby reach her goal, but also to consider doing their own giving – whether a version of the purple bag initiative, or helping out their own community.

Following the airing of the segment, “Abby’s Purple Bag Project” Facebook page skyrocketed in “likes” and now stands at more than 5,100. She also quickly reached her goal and each state of her U.S. map was colored in purple.

But the giving continued.

According to the Facebook page, more than 2,400 purple bags have been delivered – some by Abby’s own hands, but more so by the majority of viewers throughout the country touched by seeing Abby’s story while drinking their morning coffee.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *