When Buffalo Bayou Park opened in October 2015, few features were more buzzed about than the Cistern, an underground cavernous structure featuring 221 25-foot tall columns. In late 2015 and early 2016, Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) began renovating the space for public enjoyment. Elmore Public Relations assisted the non-profit with announcing and generating publicity for the opening of the space, driving ticket sales for tours, and positioning the Cistern as one of the city’s most unique, historic, and beautiful spaces. On May 13, 2016, the Cistern officially opened to sell-out crowds and universal praise from local, regional, and national media.
Planning/development: 4-6 months
Execution/implementation: 4 – 12 weeks prior to and past opening
Earned news coverage included 137 online, TV, print, and radio stories earning an estimated $1.9 million in publicity value and 105 million impressions. The Los Angeles Times’ Christopher Reynolds noted “underneath Houston is a remarkable landmark…” while Kriston Capps of City Lab called the Cistern “a wonder to match the Roman ruins under Istanbul.”
In the two weeks following the opening of the Cistern, Buffalo Bayou Partnership sold more than 7,500 tickets for the 30-minute tours, far outpacing expectations.
Perhaps most importantly, the success of the Cistern’s opening positioned the space as one of Houston’s most unique and must-see spaces, and further elevated the profile of Buffalo Bayou Park, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, and of Houston in general. Adam Weinberg, director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, visited the Cistern and was wowed by the renovation, calling it “the best industrial space I’ve ever seen.”
The media relations strategy for the opening of the Cistern earned the 2017 Public Relations Society of America Houston Grand Excalibur/Best in Show Award and 2017 PR Daily Nonprofit Award in the Event PR category.