Treat Public Relations is a PR agency providing media relations services to races of all sizes, all distances, and all sports throughout the U.S. Founder and principal Meg Treat shares: “Treat PR is where I combine my professional expertise with my personal passion for endurance sports to elevate your event and gain the attention it deserves.”
The power of positive publicity for any size event can’t be underestimated, shares Treat. Not only can it gain you participants, it increases visibility for sponsors and partners and community awareness about your race or races. But with staffing challenges, pandemic recovery and rising event costs on everyone’s minds these days, it’s not likely the No. 1 item on race directors’ to-do lists.
“It’s not uncommon to realize that your PR efforts are lacking at the last minute. It is my steadfast belief that PR cannot and should not be left unutilized by event organizers. My services help drive more awareness, which helps generate more registrations and more impact on your community.”
Read on to learn more about how Meg has grown Treat Public Relations and successfully promoted events across the USA:
Running USA: How did you come to specialize in endurance events and brands?
Meg Treat: It all started as a daydream. I’m an endurance athlete myself with five marathons, an ultra and a triathlon under my belt. When I wasn’t working, I was immersed in the sport – training, racing, and following my favorite athletes. After spending all day at my agency and in-house jobs researching media and pitching stories in a variety of news sources, I’d come home and open the publications that I loved: Runner’s World, Competitor Magazine, and the like.
I would find myself wondering, “What it would be like to have clients who I could help earn coverage in these pages? What if I could combine my love for running with my love for strategic communications?”
A couple of years later, the opportunity to do just that finally arrived. I launched Treat PR in January of 2016. Just one week after I took the leap, I landed my first client: the Tallahassee Marathon. My unique zone of genius is in the events space, although I have represented and continue to represent a handful of products and services aimed at athletes. Running events changed my life, and the opportunity to serve race directors means everything to me.
RU: What services do you offer specifically for events and event producers?
MT: Race directors can work with me in three ways: DIY, done-with-you, and done-for-you.
I have an online course, Headlines and Finish Lines, that I’ll be relaunching in April. It provides in-depth video instruction on key PR tools, plus a variety of helpful templates and guides. Event organizers and their teams can use the lessons learned to give their media efforts a boost!
For race directors who already have a great relationship with media, but need an expert to write up key documents like press releases and media alerts, my PR Static Plan is a great option. If there’s a specific communications issue you need advice on, my two-day PR Speed Workout consultation experience is a chance to dive deep and walk away with concrete, effective strategies to solve them.
The most popular option by far is the PR Podium package, which allows event organizers to take publicity off their to-do list and let me do what I do best! This package is full service and offers tried and true deliverables that I’ve curated for media relations success. It even includes my attendance on race day to handle media in person!
RU: What observations can you share about how the pandemic has impacted our industry and more specifically, are there PR solutions you recommend as events return in 2022?
MT: I think it is safe to say that our industry has never faced a challenge quite like the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope event organizers feel proud of how they reacted. I saw so many races adapting to this volatile situation in a way that aligned with their values, making health and safety the ultimate priority.
As race day makes its return, I think there are a few key PR lessons learned from the experience.
First and foremost, plan ahead. Have a crisis communications strategy that includes public health events. Be completely clear and transparent about your refund, deferral or transfer policy! If you don’t already have one, add one. Create a continuing plan for transitioning to virtual racing in the event of any unexpected obstacle, and consider adding a virtual racing category in perpetuity!
Second, communicate quickly. Are you going to always get it right? Maybe not. Should you be as truthful and transparent as you can be? Absolutely. When our audiences need answers, it’s important to address them directly rather than wait to have a perfectly polished statement. It’s just not feasible in our ever-changing world.
Finally, I would like to remind race directors that a return to racing as the world reopens is a newsworthy event. Kick COVID-19 right where it hurts after all it has done to our work, and make this unexpected obstacle into a strategic opportunity for publicity!
RU: Who are some of the races and brands that you’ve worked with?
MT: I’ve been so proud to represent events from coast to coast! They include:
- Tallahassee Marathon
- Tallahassee Turkey Trot
- Sustainable Tallahassee’s Trash Dash 5k
- Girls on The Run end-of-season 5ks and fundraiser events
- Ultraman Florida triathlon
- Santa Fe Thunder Half Marathon
- The Mad Mud Run
- The Champions Ride
- O’side Turkey Trot
While events are the focus of my business, I also work with products and services aimed at athletes and fitness-focused audiences.
RU: Can you share a client success story with us?
MT: I was feeling extra grateful on Thanksgiving this past year – it marked my first event partnership since the pandemic! I was hired by legendary race director and Running USA’s 2014 Women’s Leadership award winner Kathy Kinane to assist her with the 16th Annual O’side Turkey Trot.
Kathy’s holiday running event attracts nearly 10,000 participants to scenic North San Diego County, and takes them along Pacific Coast Highway, through Oceanside’s historic downtown and along the beach for unmatched ocean views. It was the first in-person running of the event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I’m really proud of the results. I secured a story above the fold on the front page of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the largest print publication in the area, multiple segments on the majority of SD’s local TV stations including KUSI, ABC 10, Fox 5, NBC 7, and KPBS. We also had a live throw from the national Fox Weather Channel, who conducted a remote 5-minute interview on race day. Mayor Esther Sanchez even made a special proclamation, naming it Turkey Trot Day in the City of Oceanside.
In all, over 70 pieces of press coverage were secured and those stories reached an estimated one million people. Press coverage was shared over 1400 times on social media, and 30 of the stories linked directly back to the race website. We really came back with a bang!
RU: What else can you share with us about your professional background?
MT: I’ve worked in public relations and strategic communications for more than a decade. Before launching Treat PR, I worked in boutique agencies in multiple major markets, as well as in-house with businesses large and small. I’ve had the chance to build expertise in a wide range of services like event planning, public affairs, community engagement, social media management, content creation, and email marketing, but my true passion has always been media relations.
I’ve certainly gained some street smarts from my work experience, but I’ve also got the book smarts! I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Rhetorical Advocacy, a Master’s degree in Communication, and a certificate in Strategic Communication Management all from my one and only alma mater Purdue University. It’s also worth mentioning that I teach PR at the collegiate level. I am a limited-term lecturer at Purdue’s Brian Lamb School of Communication, where I instruct a public relations writing course for about 40 undergraduate students each semester.
I’m also Accredited in Public Relations, which is what the ‘APR’ after my name stands for. This designation is held by only about 3,000 PR professionals out of the 250,000 people who report working in my field. Through a panel presentation and a rigorous exam, I proved my ability to uphold the highest standards of practice in my profession to earn the accreditation.
RU: What’s a future race on your bucket list?
MT: There are so many spectacular events I’d love to both run and/or represent. I’m seriously such a fan girl about events, and I still have to pinch myself that I get to work with the people who bring them to life!
In the next few years, I’ll be working hard to earn the opportunity to represent one of the U.S. Majors. I’d also love the chance to explore collaborations with specialty events like Ragnar and Spartan.
This year, I’m eyeing the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon for my return to running 26.2 after a four-year hiatus from the distance (and to check off my seventh state in my quest for all 50!)
RU: Anything else you would like to add?
MT: I’m just really thankful for Running USA. This organization has been so incredibly beneficial for me and for my business. I would encourage anyone on the fence about joining to take the leap! Come join us.