The San Francisco Symphony hired Landis Communications Inc. to raise positive awareness for the second season of Keeping Score, a three-part television series featuring the lives and works of composers Ives, Berlioz and Shostakovich. The series aired nationally in the fall of 2009 on PBS. PR efforts supported the San Francisco Symphony as it embarked upon the second phase of its multi-disciplined approach to engaging new audiences with classical music. LCI saw early on that, along with outreach to traditional media, LCI would be able to utilize content via integrated multimedia platforms. In doing, LCI would need to leverage a social media strategy.
The PR campaign required a national strategy coupled with a market-by-market approach that relied heavily on this social media campaign. Compounding LCI’s challenges was the fact that the series was not designated as common carriage, meaning it aired in various markets at different times. The subject matter also made it difficult to reach new audiences. The availability of the series host, famed conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, was also limited, so every key media interview had to count.
LCI initiated a social media program that addressed the multiple components of the project – television series, Web site, DVDs and educational curriculum – to secure media interest, build awareness and increase viewership. LCI’s social media campaign included working with the San Francisco Symphony to develop the Keeping Score Season II online press room and website. LCI ensured that content was consistent with up-to-date messaging. This site became a key resource as LCI reached out to key composer websites, online music influencers and composer fan pages.
LCI utilized the launch of a San Francisco Symphony’s social networking site, which attracted more than 2000 new visitors in six months. LCI used the social networking site to post series updates, along with 30-second trailers, music clips and links that drove visitors back to the Keeping Score Season II website. LCI also worked with the San Francisco Symphony to post previews of Keeping Score Season II on YouTube, and promoted the series’ digital distribution on as it became available on iTunes and PBS.org.
LCI then initiated a Twitter campaign. Followers of the Keeping Score Twitter feed received daily updates on the progress of the series, links to video features, tune-in information and media alerts. LCI contacted series production partner KQED, which encouraged all PBS member stations to Tweet the local tune-in times and dates for Keeping Score Season II to their local Twitter followers.
As the air dates approached, LCI initiated a major blog push and succeeded in securing an invitation for Michael Tilson Thomas to contribute multiple posts to “The Huffington Post,” which reaches 4.4 million readers a day. All “Huffington Post” blog posts included series tune-in information and a link to the Keeping Score website. LCI also initiated a music blog audit to learn which blogs were the most influential in this space. LCI drafted and pitched the top music blogs.
Finally, for prime SEO, LCI drafted all press releases to include hyperlinked photos, videos and key phrases that fed media directly to the Keeping Score website, Twitter page and social networking site.
The San Francisco Symphony’s Keeping Score project exceeded expectations. To date, LCI has secured more than 120 online media placements, including the Chicago Tribune online, sfgate.com, Zap2it.com (LA Times site), Sirius XM Radio (satellite radio and online streaming), The Huffington Post, The Washington Post online and “San Francisco Classical Voices” blog, among many others. Through hits such as The Huffington Post, LCI successfully introduced new audiences to Keeping Score and created an opportunity for the San Francisco Symphony to continue to reach these audiences through subsequent posts from Michael Tilson Thomas. Gross online impressions totaled more than 300 million. Through LCI’s efforts, stories were secured in all target media outlets in all target markets (23 of the top 20.) In addition, 98% of critics responded favorably to the program and more than 3 million viewers tuned in to watch the national telecast.
Of special note: This social media campaign won the 2010 national Bronze Bulldog Award for social media.