Media Relations for a Celtic Fling

An earned media success + a new, long-term client.

A Celtic Fling

Via my dual roles of account executive and public relations specialist at van Zandt Marketing Services, I served as the PR lead for the Gulf Coast Celtic Fling & Highland Games.

In addition to the usual challenges of promoting a first-time event – “What is Celtic?” and “How do you pronounce that?” – we had less than two months to do a job that easily could have taken twice that time.

The two-day Fling encompassed bagpipe, drum and band competitions, Scottish and Irish dance exhibitions, athletic competitions, concerts by internationally recognized Celtic musicians, a vendors’ area, Scottish and Irish cuisine, and more.

Targeted, “event within the event” pitches.

I turned the multi-component nature of the event into an opportunity by targeting specific pitches for “events within the event” to regional media. This strategy yielded a notable amount of television and newspaper coverage leading up to, during, and following the Fling & Highland Games.

Earned media coverage: quantity & quality.

This positive news and feature coverage, detailed below, translated into attendees for the Celtic Fling – and toward the acquisition of a new client for the agency and me. For five and a half years, I served as general and tour publicist for both Gregory Grene and his band, the Prodigals.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Good Day Tampa Bay
Russell Rhodes
WTVT-FOX 13 (Tampa)
Taped package, which ran twice in conjunction with on-location, staged live shots over a two-hour period.

March 12-March 18, 2003

“Emerald Style: The Prodigals revel in their heritage without the cute gimmicks”
Scott Harrell
Weekly Planet/Creative Loafing (Tampa/Sarasota)

Interview with Gregory Grene of the Prodigals to promote band’s Sunday evening Celtic Fling concert.

Arts & Entertainment: “Planet Picks: Two-Day Fling”
Natasha Del Toro
Weekly Planet (Sarasota)

Featured event listing for the week.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

This Morning Around the Bay
WTSP – Channel 10 (CBS – Tampa)

Live, in-studio appearance and musical performance, plus bumpers in and out of commercial break.

On the Scene With Sheryl Greene
Sheryl Greene
WWSB-ABC 40 (Sarasota)
Taped segment, which aired during 5 p.m. news and the during the following morning’s Sunrise show. Focused on Celtic Fling as one of the best “things to do” for the weekend.

Friday, March 14, 2003

ABC-40 News at Sunrise (6 a.m. to 7 a.m.)
Anchors: Richelle Ridgeway and Ken Jefferson

Live, in-studio performances by multiple Celtic Fling participants throughout the course of the broadcast (bumpers in and out), during a dedicated segment, and closing out the show. Aforementioned rerun of Sheryl Greene’s package. 

“Celtic Fling: A gathering of cultures & customs”
Rod Harmon, photos from Celtic Fling/Gary Sweetman
Bradenton Herald: Weekend 

Cover story and centerfold, in collaboration with event sponsor, which included:

  • Feature article/preview;
  • Glossary of Celtic terms;
  • Interview with Gregory Grene of the Prodigals;
  • Sidebar profiling other musical performers; and
  • Photography feature focusing on Irish dancers.

“Celtic cultures on center stage in Palmetto”
Steve Heisler
Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Ticket 

Overview piece in advance of the event, including interviews with event producers and talent.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

“Celtic Fling soaked in culture”
Abby Weingarten, photos by Alex Diaz
Bradenton Herald, p. 1 of Local & State section
Overview, feature-news piece on Saturday’s festivities; included “If You Go” sidebar with admission prices, etc.

Monday, March 17, 2003

“Irish pride floods Celtic fling, games”
Abby Weingarten, photos by Tiffany Tompkins
Bradenton Herald, 
photo caption on Front page, p. 1 of Local & Business section.
Plus an overview, feature-news piece on Sunday’s activities.

Photo: “Piping Practice”
Rod Millington
Manatee Herald-Tribune
p. 3B
Members of the City of Dunedin Pipe Band practicing before their competition.


“Clover” icon by Martha Ormiston, via The Noun Project.