Since its founding in 1987, NuStep has positioned itself as a leader in the physical fitness- and rehabilitation-equipment category, manufacturing and marketing high-end wellness products to the active-lifestyle and medical communities.
In its first PR venture, the company teamed up with the Michael Russell Group and aimed to familiarize physical therapists with its trophy offering, the TRS 4000 recumbent cross-trainer.
The team targeted the American Physical Therapy Association's (APTA) Annual Conference & Exposition, where NuStep wanted to show its successes firsthand. "What better way to do that than [with] someone who's touched hearts?" says agency principal Michael Russell. That someone was LAPD officer Kristina Ripatti, who was paralyzed in a line-of- duty shooting. The subject of an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Ripatti received the TRS 4000 as part of her home's redesign. Training with it enabled her to walk 60 feet within a year of her injury.
At the convention, NuStep booth monitors screened Ripatti's Extreme Makeover episode; the highlight, however, was a reunion between Ripatti and the show's designer, Michael Maloney. A photographer snapped pictures of APTA attendees with the reunited pair - and the TRS 4000. NuStep also sponsored a dinner-dance featuring the two guests of honor. After the expo, the team sent attendees framed photos and follow-up information by mail, an intentional effort to evade the leave-it-in-the-hotel-room curse.
Media weren't allowed at the event, but "the client got much more than they expected," says Stephen LoCascio, Michael Russell Group publicist. That included lots of legitimate leads, he says, and a full-page story in APTA's Student Assembly Pulse Newsletter.
Agency and client continue to partner on PR efforts.
PR team: NuStep (Ann Arbor, MI) and the Michael Russell Group (Manhattan Beach, CA)
Campaign: NuStep Reunion at APTA 2007
Duration: May to June 30, 2007