52 Fridays 2012 – #1 NYTimes Covers The Horsebiz With Story of USEF Horse of the Year, A Fire Survivor & Olympic Contender

52 Fridays is an ongoing series for equestrian professionals and equine business owners and managers, with marketing and public relations stories, ideas, tips, and resources shared here each Friday.

Image courtesy Amber Heintzberger

It really does seem that a Thoroughbred named after an Australian gangster is a living, breathing, eventing miracle. He’s looking like a possible Olympian for the London 2012 games, and has just scooped up Horse of the Year honors despite having nearly died in a 2011 barn fire.

The New York Times ran a story this week about the chestnut gelding named Neville Bardos; the article is a great example of high-profile mainstream media coverage of the horsebiz, and a great PR coup for Neville’s team.

Neville Bardos is a scrappy eventing horse (that’s dressage, cross-country jumping, and stadium jumping events) trained and ridden by Boyd and Silva Martin; he’s now owned by a 10-member syndicate despite having been purchased/rescued by Boyd Martin as a 3-year-old failed racehorse for the princely sum of $799.99. And he’s now officially a co-Horse of the Year for 2011, the first time the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has ever granted the honor to two horses in the same year.

You can read the NYTimes story about Neville and the Martins here, with multimedia support that includes a video, slideshow, and photo gallery; it tells part of Neville’s story, including details of the fire last May 31st. You can get more details at the Martins’ blog, and some fun facts about Neville (these are great!) from the Horse Junkies United site.

But all of this media coverage doesn’t happen without effort. Freelance journalist and photographer Amber Heintzberger is half of the ‘PR media machine’ representing the Martins, and doing a great job of it despite the horrific year of loss the couple experienced in 2011. Lisa Thomas of Mid-Atlantic Equestrian Services is the other half of the Martin PR team, covering the website and sponsorship aspects. Both of them post to the Martins’ blog.

While this team has a dramatic story to tell with lots of highs and lows, the PR duo has certainly worked hard to get them media coverage, as evidenced by links at the Martins’ website Media page. How can you emulate their media results? By following the basics of good public relations practice:

  • Identify a good story
  • Put out well-written and interesting news releases
  • Document your story with high-quality photography and video, and make them available to media sources
  • Develop and nurture media contacts, or hire someone that has them

Do you remember when I wrote about the dynamic of ‘fishing’ for media coverage? Getting your news story into one media outlet can result in the story going viral, or spreading beyond the original media mention. That’s what’s currently happening with Neville’s tale…following the NYTimes article, the BBC ran a radio piece, and it appears there’s a television segment currently in the works.

Results in PR depend on significant behind-the-scenes effort combined with luck and timing. Neville’s team has achieved top marks in all areas. Bravo!!

Congratulations to Neville, and to the entire Martin team, on your 2011 USEF Horse of the Year honors. You’re all an inspiration to the equestrian world, and to me personally, in the way you’re recovering from a traumatic event and a challenging year. Best wishes to you all for 2012, and we hope to see you going to the 2012 Olympics!


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This article and the site contents are copyright Lisa Kemp and Kemp Equine, all rights reserved. Brands and trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners. Content may be linked to from your site or social media, but not copied, in whole or in part, without prior permission. It’s also good karma, and good ethics, to give source credit. Thanks.


Filed under 52 Fridays, Equine Industry Marketing, horsebiz

2 responses to “52 Fridays 2012 – #1 NYTimes Covers The Horsebiz With Story of USEF Horse of the Year, A Fire Survivor & Olympic Contender

  1. Lisa Thomas

    Wow. Thank you! We’re humbled & proud to be on Boyd, Silva & Neville’s team!

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