PR firm secures coverage and manages social media during live broadcast
Shoppers World, a family-owned discount department store chain, is aiming to grow from 40 stores in 11 states to 500 stores nationwide. CEO Sam Dushey determined that the best insight he could get, as the company expands, would be firsthand experience working in the store aisles, side by side with the store’s employees – without being recognized.
Sam sought Axia Public Relations for its expert guidance during the Undercover Boss casting process and for public relations services to promote the episode.
Axia’s commitment was multifold – first pitching and getting Sam on Undercover Boss and later earning national media coverage surrounding the episode’s premiere as well as managing social media during the episode.
In late May, Axia Public Relations dialed its contacts at Undercover Boss, and within 24 hours, Sam had his first call with the show's casting department. After two telephone interviews and one in-person casting interview, the network approved Sam for production. About 90 days later (Early October), Sam began his undercover journey at his discount department stores and 90 days after that (Jan. 3rd), he appeared on national television with approximately 8 million American viewers tuning in for the third episode of the seventh season of Undercover Boss.
Axia received 30 days’ notice prior to the episode airing. This required quick action. Axia developed a plan to pitch the local media in the cities where Sam went undercover; pitch the industry trade media for retail stores; and pitch the business trade media so that Sam could share his experiences, insights and lessons learned. Axia first created a media advisory to alert the media before the holidays that Undercover Boss was featuring a local store on an upcoming episode. Axia also created a news release as a follow-up to reporters about the episode and to publish on PRNewswire. CBS executives noted that Axia’s releases were some of the best they’d seen from an undercover boss’s PR team.
Axia also secured additional news media coverage to tell its client’s story and experience of going undercover.
Axia recommended that it manage Shoppers World’s social media platforms during the broadcast. Although no one from the PR firm nor the client had seen the episode prior to airing, Axia drafted proactive social media posts to use at strategic and anticipated times throughout the episode – as well as more than 100 reactive responses to use during the episode to respond to the comments it anticipated from viewers. Axia managed Shoppers World’s accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, writing engaging status updates and posting them throughout the episode. They also created an Undercover Boss-specific Pinterest board.
Axia worked closely with media contacts in Atlanta, Cleveland and New York (the cities with stores Sam visited while undercover), including business writers and editors, television entertainment writers and TV news stations, daily and community newspapers, local business journals, blogs and other news outlets in each of the regions.
Since Shoppers World is a retail chain, Axia pitched its contacts at retail industry media outlets like Chain Store Age, Retailing Today, Innovative Retail Technologies and more.
As a national business story with lessons learned, Axia knew that other CEOs would benefit from Sam’s experience. Axia connected with its contacts at national business outlets such as Chief Executive, Inc., Fortune and The Wall Street Journal.
Because Shoppers World is a business that is family owned and operated, it presented a unique opportunity for Axia to pitch family trade media about Sam, his company and the lessons he has learned so far as he expands nationwide.
Axia secured media coverage in more than 160 outlets with an estimated publicity value of $1.3 million and reaching more than 42.3 million consumers, according to Nasdaq Media Intelligence. In addition to earned media coverage and its measurement, more than 8 million people throughout the country watched the episode air live on CBS.
Axia secured interviews for Sam with Chief Executive, Chain Store Age and Cleveland’s daily newspaper to name a few publications. Chain Store Age published an article announcing Sam on Undercover Boss and posted a Q&A with Sam online, which appeared later in the print edition of the magazine. Axia also secured coverage online and in print with both the business and entertainment writers for Cleveland’s daily newspaper, The Plain Dealer. Chief Executive published its story online for readers who are executives to learn from Sam’s experience. Additional media coverage included the New York Post and interviews with Yahoo! An interview with Shoppers World employee Miss Carol, an audience favorite who worked with Sam in Cleveland, appeared on Cleveland’s WOIO (the CBS affiliate).
During the episode premiere, social media was buzzing.
Twitter engagement took off under #ShoppersWorld and #UndercoverBoss. Tweets had more than 31,000 impressions. Celebrities even chimed in on social media. Larry King tweeted to his 2.6 million followers about the Undercover Boss episode. Montel Williams engaged with Shoppers World through a series of tweets and hoped to visit a New York location store.