5 lessons from The Preakness’ virtual press event

With traditional press gatherings forced online due to COVID-19, comms pros promoting the illustrious annual horse race pivoted to offer unique access.

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When you can’t hold a presser or traditional media event because of public health concerns, you have to get creative.

That was certainly the case for the team tasked with promoting this year’s running of The Preakness, a thoroughbred horse race that’s been captivating audiences since Ulysses S. Grant was in the White House.

The race, which typically is held on the third Saturday in May but was moved to early October this year, had no spectators, and the gatherings of fans and journalists to cover the event were called off.

Instead, the team at The Brand Guild  produced a unique experience to bring reporters into the event and give them something to write about: a virtual press event.

“In some cases, you want to create an experience, you want to be able to show what’s unique about what you’re pitching and the story you want placed, and not just tell them,” says Amy Clark, senior vice president of PR for The Brand Guild.  “A virtual press event allows you to paint a holistic story.”

To make the event memorable, The Brand Guild’s team sent journalists a mailer filled with Preakness-related treats, including ingredients to craft a “Black-Eyed Susan,” the traditional cocktail consumed on race weekend.

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