Alan Miller PR (AMPR) has worked with Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, for 15 years.
But when the circus came to New York last spring, a crisis struck: Bello Nock, Ringling's star clown, inadvertently left his one-of-a-kind mini-bike on a curb, and it promptly vanished. With Bello heartbroken and the circus buzzing with activity, AMPR geared up for an instantaneous publicity push to help recover the missing bike.
"Bello is such a well known figure in the city. So many people love him here in New York," says Alan Miller, AMPR president. "We said, 'Let's see if the newspapers and the media will try to help us get his bike back.'" A burst of coverage, the firm hoped, would lead to a recovery.
The agency placed stories in the New York Post and Daily News, which both ran large pieces the following day. "We knew if we went to print first, then TV would follow," Miller says. Those stories triggered a flood of interest, and the team quickly organized a Saturday press conference. "It was a circus on its own," says Paulina Piekarski, Feld Entertainment's regional PR manager. "It looked like a press conference that the President holds." That led to another wave of stories on the evening news and more intense print coverage touting a telephone tip line AMPR set up. The tip line received its fair share of false responses - including pranksters claiming to be holding the bike hostage - but eventually the team was able to find the diamond in the rough.
By Sunday, Bello's wish came true. Ricky Robinson, a homeless man, spotted the bike after seeing a news story and returned it. The circus gave Robinson a new bike of his own, a $1,000 reward, and plenty of heartwarming news coverage.
AMPR continues to work with Feld Entertainment.
PR team: Feld Entertainment (New York) and Alan Miller PR (New York)
Campaign: Recovering Bello's missing bike
Duration: March 30 to April 2, 2007