Portraits of Love: Creating a “Template” for Successful, Replicable, Highly-Focused PR around a Multi-City Event
Portraits of Love is a philanthropic activity coordinated by local USO centers and sponsored by a non-profit organization called The Imaging Alliance whose member companies range from camera companies to retailers and service providers. Since Portraits of Love’s inception nine years ago, it has delivered more than 20,000 free portraits of military families around the globe.
Portraits of Love had been in existence for nearly a decade, but went largely unnoticed by anyone who wasn’t directly involved in it. In early 2017, The Imaging Alliance decided it was time to expand the program’s reach to new regions and to raise the overall visibility of the events.
At the Portraits of Love events, The Imaging Alliance and a regional USO facility say “thank you” to military service members and their families by providing family portrait sessions, conducted by a local professional photographer. Each session includes free prints to create special and forever-lasting memories.
With the dual objective of raising awareness of the program and its benefits, as well as building awareness for The Imaging Alliance, Breakaway Communications sought a strategy that would be successful yet cost effective. We created a PR program “template” that could be easily replicated in each city where the Portraits of Love event will take place. (As background, Breakaway Communications serves on the board of The Imaging Alliance and provides pro bono PR services.)
We started the PR push in Denver, which marked the first Portraits of Love event that took place at a local retailer.
Breakaway’s PR strategy was three fold:
- Issue a press release three weeks in advance of the event, in order to build awareness of the Portraits of Love and its benefits among military families
- Identify top-tier local broadcast and print media and offer up access to the event and spokespeople prior to and during the event. Our top two picks were the local NBC television station and the Denver Post.
- Secure additional coverage in an imaging industry trade publication to showcase the success of the program (and attract new members to The Imaging Alliance.)
Breakaway conducted a coaching session ahead of media interviews with the primary spokespeople, which included the president of The Imaging Alliance, an executive from the camera store that was hosting the event, the director of the local USO and the pro photographer.
Press Release Distribution and Pick-up:
The press release was distributed on a regional newswire hitting the greater Denver area. 123 outlets picked up the release, which included posting on major search engines to help drive awareness and traffic to The Imaging Alliance site.
Press Interviews and Interaction:
The event captured the attention of several Denver-area reporters, including Jessica Oh of KUSA-TV 9 NBC News, and Hayley Sanchez at the Denver Post.
- KUSA-TV 9 News-Colorado (NBC) – “Free portraits offered to military families in Colorado”
- Denver Post – “Denver-stationed military get free family photos during “Portraits of Love“
- CBS Denver posted on Twitter about the event
- Digital Imaging Reporter – “Imaging Alliance’s Portraits of Love at Mike’s Camera“
The press coverage was extremely well received by members of The Imaging Alliance who shared the following with Breakaway. We are currently planning for the next Portraits of Love events.
- Wonderful! Such a great project. Thank you to all for so much effort! – Stacie Errera, Tamron USA
- What a great team effort as this program continues to grow! Great PR for THE IMAGING ALLIANCE!! – Dan Unger, Panasonic
- One of the highlights of the organization we can point to! Congrats! – Rick Booth, Sigma
- Great story! Definitely a program the organization can take great pride in. Congrats! – Marc Cutler, Nikon
- Such great news. Thanks so much, Breakaway, for making this happen. – Jerry Grossman, chairman, The Imaging Alliance