Or How to Tell your Story without Getting Slimed

By Mike Smith, Yes& 

How does one make a subject like “Hypoxia” exciting? How does a PR professional drive more awareness to algal bloom, that green sludge across the top of water that seems other-worldly in its shape, color and even smell?

Well, if you have landed the progressive Representative Debbie Dingell as your kick-off speaker on the importance of Lake Erie to the regional Detroit, Cleveland and Toledo economies, as well as provided some cool footage of the great fishing and sailing on the lake, it’s a pretty good start.

If you are the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, you might engage a multi-disciplinary and integrated marketing communication firm like Yes& to help tell your story virtually. UMCES recently engaged us to support its Western Lake Erie Report Card announcement along with the Lake Erie Foundation, University of Toledo and Heidelberg University’s National Center for Water Quality Research.

Hypoxia is the absence of oxygen to sustain functionality. For a water body like Western Lake Erie, algal blooms are created when an overflow of nitrogen and phosphorous is disbursed or absorbed into the watershed. In simple terms, too much fertilizer and Ag run-off in Ohio and SE Michigan causes the algal which blocks both sunlight and sucks the oxygen out of the water for other plants, fish and wildlife.

For the first time ever, UMCES scientists took samples and reviewed data from the entire watershed including the Maumee River near farming towns. Our UMCES Western Lake Erie PR work reached all three television network news affiliates, ABC, CBS and NBC plus Fox in Toledo and Cleveland as well as the Blade, Farm & Dairy magazine and newspapers in Rep. Dingell’s native Michigan including Monroe County.

What’s new about virtual press events?

  1. PR and Earned Media reach is now national because geography is not a constraint for the press
  2. Broadcast Media can pull feeds directly from Google Meet or Zoom—in our case, University of Toledo Prof Tom Bridgeman was featured on network TV (with his long pandemic beard!)
  3. Engaging academic leaders, government officials and regional business groups means everyone can appear at one time! It’s one-stop shopping for the press.
  4. If reporters still want individual interviews, you can do them in Breakouts or on iPhones

See Yes&’s Six Steps for hosting a great virtual event by my colleague Caitlin Bowman here.

Mike Smith is SVP of PR at Yes&, a Capitol Communicator sponsor.

Photos are courtesy of University of Maryland.

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