You Need a News Hook: Lessons from the Boston Seafood Festival

Oct 18, 2023Events

With the plethora of events crowding everyone’s social calendars these days, how do you make your organization’s event stand out? How do you ensure your occasion isn’t overlooked among the many options available to your target market?

At Goodwin Consulting, our recent collaboration with the Boston Seafood Festival provides several key insights on the importance of incorporating a compelling news hook into your PR strategy.


The Challenge: Catch “Big Fish” Publicity

The Boston Fisheries Foundation hosts the annual Boston Seafood Festival, a city-wide affair held at the Fish Pier under unpredictable September skies. Despite a massive all-day downpour during this year’s event, the festival managed to attract a decent turnout. Locals and tourists arrived in raincoats and with umbrellas to savor seafood from Boston’s best chefs and restaurants.

Now, let’s look closer at the work involved in bringing to life an event like the Boston Seafood Festival. PR consulting services aren’t intended to sell tickets. Agencies like ours have much bigger fish to fry. But to cook any fish, we first need to catch them, and that requires the right news hook.


Event management, promotion, and publicity

The success of any large, ticketed event hinges on solid collaboration between the client and their event management team, advertising partner, and publicity partner (that’s us)! 

On the event management side, the Boston Seafood Festival engaged chefs and restaurants and secured various basic elements needed to pull off an event. (Think: tents and tables.)

On the marketing and advertising side, ticket sales are the priority. Ads are designed, purchased, and monitored for click-through rates. This highly targeted work supports one main goal: making money.

Finally, there’s the PR consulting agency—in this case, Boston’s own Goodwin Consulting. While the Boston Seafood Festival was our focal point, a PR firm’s role is not to generate ticket sales but to support those sales by telling an attention-grabbing brand story that will keep guests returning year after year. In other words, the PR firm is responsible for finding or creating the news hook.


The Strategy: A News Hook that Catches Attention

A generic message like, “Come to our food fest!” might draw a lunch crowd, but the Boston Seafood Festival is more than a chance to chow down. In particular, 2023’s event marked the 10-year anniversary of the festival’s inception—an endeavor by the Boston Fisheries Foundation to raise awareness regarding the city’s crucial, in-crisis fishing industry. 

At Goodwin, we recognized the festival’s power to spotlight the alarming decline of new entrants to the fishing trade and promote the centuries-old industry as an important next-generation player. Our strategy was two-pronged: 

  1. Celebrate the festival’s 10-year “tin anniversary” 
  2. Spotlight the little-discussed challenges facing today’s fishing industry


Dropping the news hook

The Goodwin team arranged a 22-minute segment with WGBH Boston Public Radio where Chris Basile, the president of the Boston Fisheries Foundation and founder/CEO of Seawitch, Inc., joined forces with Paul Vincent Hagan III, founder of Denarius Trading Co., to speak as one voice on behalf of the country’s oldest functioning fish pier. We provided media training that prepared these industry insiders with clear talking points and a thought leadership approach. 

By juxtaposing an industry legend with a next-generation industry innovator, we showcased the evolving narrative of fishing in Boston. The message was clear: the Boston Seafood Festival was more than an event; it was THE gathering place for advocates of the city’s age-old fishing tradition. 


Goodwin Consulting casts a wide net

We worked tirelessly to secure featured spots in over 90 calendar listings, generating buzz from local sites like to regional publications like Yankee Magazine.

On the day of the festival, we brought local Fox affiliate Boston 25 News to the Fish Pier to film interviews and cover the many festival events, which included cooking demonstrations and costumed characters. Additionally, we succeeded in obtaining a television segment from NBC Boston that featured the festival’s myriad seafood dishes.


5 High-Impact Event Tips from Goodwin’s PR Consulting Experts

Whether you’re a Goodwin client or going it alone, this primer can help your organization secure premium publicity:

  1. Know your narrative. Every event has a story; what’s yours? Are you honoring an anniversary, commemorating a milestone, or tapping into an emerging trend?
  2. Engage your audience early. Pre-event, lean into your social media platforms and engage with influencers to build interest and excitement.
  3. Divide and conquer. Set clear expectations with your stakeholders about what PR can and cannot accomplish. Public relations is visibility-focused, while your advertising experts can prioritize ticket sales.
  4. Anticipate challenges. Anything that can go wrong eventually will, as the Boston Seafood Festival’s rainy weather demonstrated. Have contingency plans for as many crises as you can imagine.
  5. Give value to your event. Beyond fun and festivities, what message do you wish to convey to your event’s attendees? What new awareness should they leave with? Events with a clear strategic intent always resonate more fully with audiences.


The Results: Wet—but Still a Win!

Though the rain dampened the day’s energy to some extent, Goodwin Consulting’s hard work garnered more media exposure for the Boston Seafood Festival than any of the years prior! Attendance was lower than we’d hoped due to the wet weather, but we achieved several good wins in awareness and positioning.

Trust our team to find your news hook, and we’ll bring a bold new vision—with plenty of publicity!—to your next event table.

Get in touch.