John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum
2017 was an important year for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. May 29, 2017 would mark 100 years since President Kennedy’s birth and the Library had developed a year-long plan to commemorate the centennial. In addition to a roster of special events, the Library wanted to remind the world of the themes that formed the foundation of Kennedy’s private life and public administration: courage, service, inclusion and innovation.
The JFK Library contracted with Ellis Strategies to support a robust media relations effort spanning the four months leading into the birthday celebration over Memorial Day weekend. ES allocated two account reps, plus Matt Ellis, to create, execute and manage the media plan. Working in concert with the Library’s internal team, ES identified the events, themes and media targets that would yield the most meaningful coverage. Some stories that were placed were event-driven – like the weekend of touch football games organized around the country to highlight President Kennedy’s commitment to physical fitness (as well as his family’s enjoyment for the backyard game) or the Library’s newly curated exhibit highlighting 100 artifacts from JFK’s life – while others were more thematic, like JFK’s enduring legacy in the field of public service and his favorite haunts around the City of Boston.
In all, ES generated media attention around more than 15 events, ranging from a naturalization ceremony for 200 new Americans, to the presentation of the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award to President Barack Obama, to the preparation (and cutting) of a one-of-a-kind birthday cake for 1,000 Library guests. ES helped the JFK Library create a “drumbeat of coverage” around the centennial, which also included placing opinion articles from notable sources that would further the four key themes of JFK’s life.
Beyond just pitching stories and coordinating logistics, ES worked carefully to determine how different media entities could receive exclusive photos, interview or access to pieces of the JFK story so that coverage of JFK’s life and legacy were differentiated in print, broadcast and web-only media. For example, a piece published in “Women’s Wear Daily” focused on JFK’s effortless style and how it shaped a generation, while another article in the Boston Globe examined the legacy of Kennedy’s famous “Ask not” inaugural speech, which ushered in a period of national ambition and pride.