PR Pro Turns a Wedding Ruined by the Shutdown Into a Big Media Win

This week, Joy Miller had a problem: her wedding was scheduled for Sunday at Yosemite National Park, and the government shutdown threatened to ruin everything. We’ll let her explain:

Sounds like a nightmare come true, right?

Enter Lara Miller, a freelance publicist based in San Francisco who handles media pitching for clients at Prosper PR. Joy and Lara have long been best friends, and Lara writes:

“Joy called me on Tuesday in tears.  She could barely get the words out about her wedding. I immediately went in my PR mode, told her not to worry that we WOULD find them a place and that I would get the media to cover it. From there it was a day’s work fielding pitch responses, venue calls, and offers for various services.”

As Joy told us today, “Lara’s been planning the wedding with me for a whole year, and she said ‘Trust me, I’ll make it happen; it’s what I do.'”

Behold the power of the press…

In the words of the bride-to-be, “Thirty minutes later KTU called and said ‘Can we do an interview?’ I did, and it ran, and within a couple of hours local vendors started calling me.”

Turns out that Miller had already pitched her friend’s story to contacts at the local television station, The San Francisco Chronicle, CNN and Reuters. They all loved it—in fact, Reuters loved it so much that her contact wrote:

“I am working out crewing for Reuters Television to cover the wedding in Sonoma this coming Sunday. Thanks for making this happen…looks like a great story.”

Once Lara had the story set to go, she used the Reuters angle to persuade local vendors to provide services (and earn some free publicity). Seems that quite a few were more than ready to help. One event planner even called without prompting. Joy says:

“The owner of Bloomfield Farms (a venue managed by Bloomfield Events) called and said they wanted to bring the whole city of  Petaluma together. They donated rooms, coordinated decorations…there’s going to be a Sinatra tribute band…a port-a-potty company even called and said they wanted to donate. They’re literally putting together a whole wedding. Bloomfield Farms has gone above and beyond every step of the way.”

And it’s not over yet: CNN covered the wedding as part of a “what’s not happening this weekend” story, and Reuters was so impressed that they’ve planned an entire series on “Weddings That Are Happening Despite the Shutdown”—all inspired by Lara’s pitch.

UPDATE: Here’s the Reuters clip, which ran as a standalone and added a bit more political spin to the tale:

Lara tells us “From a PR perspective, it is so wonderful to be able to use my skills to actually make a difference in [my best friend’s] life” and Joy says that “…my nightmare has turned into a dream.”

Next time someone needs an example of public relations turning a bad situation good, we recommend you tell them this story.

It’s a keeper—even Stephen Colbert couldn’t resist getting in on the wedding action.

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