Charitable PR & Podcasts

Photography by Phil Gammon

A Street Cat Named Bob PR Case Study

“The day was so emotional for me. Bob has touched the lives of so many people around the world, and this felt like a fitting send off for such an amazing cat. Being able to get such incredible coverage of the event on major networks was just fantastic, and I hope that it will help Bob’s memory live on, along with his beautiful statue.

 Thank you to Charitable PR & Podcasts for making such a wonderful day run so smoothly, and for gaining such fantastic coverage around the event.”

James Bowen, Author and Director of James and Bob Ltd

The Story

James Bowen was homeless and addicted to heroin when he came across an injured and abandoned ginger cat that he named Bob. Street Cat Bob became a local celebrity after he accompanied James to his day job of selling the Big Issue, and to his busking spot in Covent Garden. After his autobiographical book A Street Cat Named Bob was picked up by a local journalist, James and Bob became household names, with a book series and two feature films to follow in the decade that they spent together. James and Bob’s story has resonated with millions of fans around the world, and the tragedy of Bob’s death in June 2020 was felt strongly by those who followed them on this remarkable journey.

Charitable PR & Podcasts was approached by James and his team to cover the PR element of the unveiling of a new statue that would commemorate Bob and his extraordinary life. The statue would be placed in Islington Green, on the very spot where the pair would take their lunch break from selling The Big Issue.

The Approach

Our strategy was to manage and coordinate media and partner channels, key speakers to generate a wide range of coverage around the unveiling. Prior to creating any assets, we spent time with the client immersing fully in the story they wanted to tell about the day. Hosting a live event during the Covid-19 pandemic posed an array of challenges that required us to react quickly and be flexible. Staying aware of the government guidelines was critical, as this would change the number of media that would be able to attend the unveiling in person. During July 2021 the total number of people that could attend an outdoor event such as this was 30, therefore two press releases had to be created to encourage a small number of media to attend in person, and a wider selection to tune into the Facebook Live stream that would accompany the event.

As well as monitoring the changing COVID-19 guidelines, we also closely watched the news cycle to determine whether any opportunities or challenges would affect the statue unveiling. England’s unexpected rise to the Euro 2021 final caused us to liaise with the client, suggesting a timely change of date for the unveiling. The news story of either an England victory or defeat was set to overshadow the event that was due to take place the day after the final. As a dire

James and Bob’s story has touched millions of fans world-wide and being able to live stream the event was a way to reach them. We also advised that approaching pet specific press and cat loving journalists would provide likely coverage around the event. We also liaised with journalists in key fan areas such as China and Germany to access international press coverage.

James should be given full credit for the amazing charity partnerships that he has developed over the last decade

Blue Cross and The Big Issue both took active roles in both the statue unveiling and planning around the event. We managed communication and liaised with these partners to develop a richer story. For example, Mark Bossley, chief veterinary officer at Blue Cross was engaged to make a speech on the day of the unveiling. As the vet who treated Bob when he first came into James’ care, he added an extra layer of authenticity and emotion to the occasion.

When pitching to the press, we really focused our efforts on broadcast in London, but also spread our outreach nationally. To access regional press, broadcast conduits such as Sky Radio, BBC London News and ITV London News were targeted with interview pitches with James. Because of their link with James and Bob’s story, The Big Issue were engaged to produce content for both online and print about the unveiling. James and Bob’s story is very London focused, and it made sense to target press such as Time Out London, Secret London and Islington focused outlets such as the Islington Gazette and Islington Tribune to gain maximum coverage.

THE OUTCOME

The day was a success with James completing interviews with both regional and national press on the day. We gained 179 pieces of coverage (151 of which were broadcast) from the event, resulting in an estimated 71,000,000 impressions.

Take a look at James and Bob’s Facebook Page here.