CAMPAIGNS: H&K orchestrates broad plan to hype Disney's music hall

PR Team: Music Center of Los Angeles County and Hill & Knowlton (Los Angeles) Campaign: Walt Disney Concert Hall Civic Dedication Time Frame: October 20, 2003 Budget: $50,000

PR Team: Music Center of Los Angeles County and Hill & Knowlton (Los Angeles) Campaign: Walt Disney Concert Hall Civic Dedication Time Frame: October 20, 2003 Budget: $50,000

One story dominated LA's local news scene last year: The new Walt Disney Concert Hall. From its Frank Gehry design to its potential to revitalize a largely forgotten corner of downtown, the project captured the media's interest from the day the unusual design was unveiled. The astonishing part, however, wasn't that the city would be interested in the grand effort, billed as the most important arts project in LA. It was how long that interest was sustained. Literally hundreds of stories ran over the course of the year as the building neared completion, with the press and public hungry for more. The LA office of Hill & Knowlton was partially responsible for that phenomenal coverage with its campaign to handle the civic dedication of the building on behalf of client The Music Center of Los Angeles, a nonprofit that manages the venue. "We had a wonderful project to work with, and this was the chance to prove it," says Bonnie Goodman, GM of H&K in LA. Strategy The H&K team wanted to use the October 20 dedication ceremony to attract media attention. This civic dedication of the building was the first event in a weeklong series of grand-opening parties managed by a variety of clients and agencies, so it had to capture everyone's attention. To do that, the firm needed to focus not only on the press, but also consumers, donors, public officials, and other members of the LA community to ensure participation and attendance. "When you have players like [philanthropist] Eli Broad and [architect] Frank Gehry, that makes a huge impression on the media," notes Goodman. "We leveraged the involvement of those people who had helped [the hall] become real - the prowess and talent of the fundraising community, the political community, everybody who had been involved from the get-go." Tactics To reach media and those influentials, H&K tailored its pitch to give each constituency a unique angle and a reason to get involved, helping to build excitement on multiple fronts - from architecture magazines to business titles to local arts groups. Making coverage easy for the media and making the day run smoothly were H&K's chief goals, so a comprehensive press kit was designed that gave easy access to spokespeople and key information. H&K then crafted pitches ranging from a historical perspective on the project, to the "business of art," to profiles of the key players. For the grand opening and official ribbon-cutting, the team left nothing to chance. They created an event flow for media and other participants, including details for press coverage such as distribution of b-roll and tours of the facility for the hundreds of press members that attended. Results The event attracted more than 160 media outlets and 600 invited guests, resulting in 500 million media impressions. That translated into coverage in top-tier outlets, including the LA Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The Hollywood Reporter, the AP, and Reuters. Aside from the coverage, the event itself was a success. "It was a great opportunity to bring so many civic leaders, community leaders, and diverse groups to an event," says Goodman. Future H&K continues to work with the Music Center not only on continued outreach for the concert hall, but also assisting with production of collateral materials for visitors, strategic counsel, and media and community relations.

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