In hosting March Madness games, Prudential Center scores a victory for Newark

Prudential Center sought to drive awareness for the events it offers.

Name: Anne Sciaino, PR manager, Prudential Center (Newark, NJ)
Placement: The Associated Press, March 19, 2011
Pitch timeline: Seven weeks

What does your organization do? What are its media goals?
Prudential Center opened in 2007 and is home to the New Jersey Devils, New Jersey Nets, Seton Hall University's men's basketball team, as well as hundreds of concerts, shows, and sporting events.

We sought to drive awareness for the events and world-class experience Prudential Center offers. For this campaign, we highlighted the facility's hosting of the East Regionals of the 2011 NCAA Men's Basketball Championships to publicize not only the arena, but the role it is playing in Newark's resurgence.

Why was the AP a good target? How did you pitch reporters?
The AP is used by outlets both nationally and internationally, making it a great target as the NCAA Tournament holds national attention. Since this was more than a sports story, we reached out to the media well before March Madness began, inviting Newark AP reporter David Porter and other journalists to a kick-off press conference in late January.

We showcased not only the Prudential Center's role in the NCAA Tournament, but also the fact that the arena will host a record number of basketball events this year, including June's NBA Draft and the WNBA's New York Liberty.

How did you successfully integrate messages about Newark and the arena into the March Madness coverage?
The kick-off press conference featured Gov. Chris Christie, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and Prudential Center's chairman/managing partner Jeff Vanderbeek. All of them are comfortable with the media and articulated both that the facility is becoming a national basketball hub, as well as all that Newark now has to offer.

We followed up with additional releases, background information, and art all leading up to the NCAA Tournament.

What was the hit's impact?
The AP piece ran days before the tournament games and was picked up by numerous outlets, including The Washington Post. That piece, along with stories in the Newark Star-Ledger, USA Today, and The New York Times, all stressed the positive effect the tournament taking place at Prudential Center would have on the arena and the entire city.

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