Marc Ferris: My client is Yamaha Corp. of America, where I handle PR for their guitars, drums, keyboards, rock & roll instruments, and sound reinforcement products. Part of our role is working with Yamaha to increase traffic and sell-through at local music stores that sell the company's instruments.
What made the Memphis Commercial Appeal such a good hit, and how did you pitch the editor?
Ferris: Yamaha asked us to do outreach for The Memphis Drum Shop, which was about to hold a 20th anniversary event with celebrity drummers such as Tommy Aldridge and Anton Fig. We targeted the Commercial Appeal because it's the biggest newspaper in the area, and our pitch to their arts and entertainment editor focused both on shop owner Jim Pettit, who's a well-known local musician, and the Yamaha drum artists going to the event.
Retail events can sometimes seem overly promotional - how did you overcome that?
Ferris: We kept sending the paper a stream of newsy releases during the month before the event that showcased the store's role in the Memphis music scene. It also helps that Pettit has a vintage drum vault and whenever pro drummers are in Memphis, they stop by - so in the drumming world, the store is renowned.
Did you have to media train the store owner or Yamaha executives?
Ferris: I provided talking points in case there were tough questions, but these guys are pros. Mostly, I encouraged them to be themselves.
What was the impact of the hit?
Ferris: Reporter Mark Jordan wrote a great feature that appeared the day of the anniversary that included an anecdote about a boy in the store buying his first practice drum pad and then talked about Pettit and the event. Because of that and other coverage, the anniversary party was successful and Yamaha was thrilled with our work.
Name: Marc Ferris, SAE, Giles Communications (Purchase, NY)
Placement: Memphis Commercial Appeal, October 20
Pitch timeline: One month