NYC, the Legendary Jimmie Rodgers’ Guitar and the Power of Publicity

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Although I never considered myself much of a country music fan, I recently had the opportunity to learn more about Jimmie Rodgers, the “Father of Country Music.” I had heard of him as a musician, but his life’s story opened my eyes regarding his influence on many genres of music.

The 2013 Mississippi Picnic in New York’s Central Park honored Jimmie Rodgers in celebration of the Mississippi Country Music Trail. Rodgers is legendary in his hometown of Meridian where the Jimmie Rodgers Museum proudly displays his favorite Martin 000-45 guitar. Recently, the museum allowed Britt Gully, a Rodgers tribute singer, to use the Martin 000-45 to record a CD. This historic event was the first time the guitar had been used in 80 years, and the first time it had been used for a recording. This chain of events seemed to have perfect timing considering that Britt Gully would be performing at the Mississippi Picnic playing a reproduction Martin that included Jimmie Rodgers’ name emblazoned in pearl letters up the neck.

GodwinGroup Public Relations was responsible for generating publicity around the Picnic by leveraging the history associated with the “Father of Country Music” and the recent use of the 000-45 with the appearance of Britt Gully at the Mississippi Picnic. Little did I know how entertaining this assignment would turn out to be. From hearing Britt talk about restringing, tuning and playing the Martin to bringing the sounds of Jimmie back to life, I felt like I had received a personal history lesson.

Understanding the power of this story was important as our team reached out to targeted media and followed up to promote interest. Godwin distributed a news release and pitched the story beginning Monday prior to the Saturday Picnic to a media list including New York City local and network print and broadcast media, national trade and consumer special interest pubs and county music blogs, select radio, wire services and the Clarion-Ledger. We followed up on Tuesday and Wednesday with a Media Advisory to say that Britt would be available for interviews Thursday and/or Friday prior to the Picnic. A second Media Advisory went with a follow-up pitch on Friday to promote coverage among weekend producers and assignment editors.

As a result, 54 media outlets from California to New York and from Washington to Florida covered the story. Britt gave interviews to the Clarion-Ledger and to the Associated Press. Other outlets used information from the news release. Overall, coverage included the Associated Press, blogs, television, print and .com publications — great results for an intensive five-day publicity effort. This story had a strong news “hook” — that critical piece of newsworthy information that captured the attention and interest of our media contacts and, ultimately, their audiences.

So here’s a Public Relations tip for publicity — keep in mind that the story has to be relevant, and there has to be a “hook” that draws your audience in. Honing in on the “hook” is not always an easy task, but an essential step in sparking media interest. If this process seems overwhelming, you can always listen to your favorite music for inspiration. You never know — you might hear a little Jimmie somewhere in the lyrics, riffs and runs, and snag your “Aha” moment.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]