A new personality for Animal Planet

Animal Planet is introducing a new personality, Donald Schultz, as it launches his new series, 'Wild Recon.' The show follows the South African reptile expert as he tracks down snakes for scientific research.

Company: Animal Planet
Campaign: Wild Recon
PR Team: Internal and Middleberg Communications
Launch: January 4

Objective: Animal Planet is introducing a new personality, Donald Schultz, as it launches his new series, Wild Recon. The show follows the South African reptile expert as he tracks down snakes for scientific research. 

“For Animal Planet, it's one of the new directions,” says Brian Ely, director of communications at the network. “It's a new take on natural history, but really modernizing it to reach a younger audience.”

Idea: Working with Middleberg Communications and MD Jim Dowd, Animal Planet has a “slow boil” strategy when it comes to PR, Ely explains. “We really wanted to introduce Donald as a new Animal Planet personality and then talk about his new show later on.” 

The network began deskside visits with Schultz, including some featuring reptiles and snakes, five months prior to the show launch.

Tools: A PR stunt this month will see Schultz living for 10 days with 100 deadly snakes in a glass enclosure set up in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip. It will air as a special in the middle of the 10-week series. Animal Planet is also helping Schultz set up and rebrand his personal Facebook and Twitter pages, which will be used during the stunt and show. In addition, the team is releasing viral videos with Schultz. 

When it comes to traditional media, “We're pitching broadcast and print, long-lead, weeklies, and daily talk shows. It's a full-service PR campaign,” Dowd says. “For the stunt, we'll be especially focused on servicing the footage to affiliates across the country.”

Measurement: The success of the show, and the PR, will be tied to ratings for Wild Recon. Ely says the network uses its research department to monitor success. 

“We look at things and see how it's going and if we need to juice things up,” he adds. “Because it's a 10-week series, we don't have to do everything in the first week.”

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