Amazon Ships Harry Potter Via FedEx
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Holmes Report

Amazon Ships Harry Potter Via FedEx

With an updated ticker on the site to monitor the book’s phenomenal pre-order numbers and by providing media access to distribution centers for filming, Golin/Harris L.A. secured coverage from outlets including USA Today, The Wall Street Journa

Paul Holmes

Golin/Harris Los Angeles implemented a successful campaign for the Book Store and the highly anticipated fourth book in the J.K. Rowling series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, on July 8, 2000.  Through a combination of media relations, b-roll and press release distributions, more than 817 million total impressions were secured in the six weeks prior to the book’s launch.  With an updated ticker on the site to monitor the book’s phenomenal pre-order numbers and by providing media access to distribution centers for filming, Golin/Harris L.A. secured coverage from outlets including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Today Show, CBS Evening News and CNN.   The program helped accomplish internal business goals by becoming the site’s largest pre-ordered product ever, with approximately 30 percent of the pre-orders by new customers.


There were several challenges to overcome with securing media coverage, as the publisher (Scholastic) would neither allow visuals of the book nor its title to be disclosed.  Additionally, the 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 8, launch timing provided roadblocks for online retailers who could not open stores at midnight to sell the book, further limiting the opportunity for media visuals.   To combat these challenges, “created” news it could own through a “pre-order” phenomenon prior to day-one sales.


By obtaining the publisher’s release schedule and tracking industry “buzz,” it was determined the July 8 release of J.K. Rowling’s fourth Harry Potter edition – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire-- would be the biggest book event of the year.  Additional research was conducted to uncover competitive brick-and-mortar retailer plans for the book’s promotion – which were discovered to be limited until launch date.


To “own” the media surrounding the pre-orders for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a strategic public relations plan was developed including specific milestones targeting all media categories – print, television broadcast, radio and online – for the six weeks leading up to the launch.  Due to concerns with ample book delivery from Scholastic, early pre-launch media messages were strategically focused on the Harry Potter “phenomenon” and the record-breaking number of pre-orders for the book.  Once the books were physically in the distribution centers, the message turned to's exclusive book delivery via FedEx on Saturday, July 8.  The combination of these two messages enabled to own the pre-launch phenomenon story plus the ease of delivery on day one.


For the launch of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, set the tone with media and provided the pre-order hook with its exclusive “Muggle Count.”  Reporters relied on as the ONLY resource to track the Harry Potter phenomenon daily. also secured an exclusive deal with FedEx to deliver the books to homes on day one, in order to own the broadcast coverage over brick-and-mortar retail lines and midnight parties on July 8.  

Following is a detailed summary of public relations tactics executed by Golin/Harris and

Muggle Count Alert – Thursday, June 1:  A media alert was distributed over BusinessWire announcing the Harry Potter store and the pre-order "Muggle Count."  This provided media with an ongoing resource to track the growing phenomenon daily

FedEx Announcement Press Release – Thursday, June 20:  A press release was distributed announcing's partnership with FedEx to provide complimentary shipping upgrades to the first 250,000 pre-orders.  An exclusive advance with the Associated Press was secured, resulting in multi-market national and regional print coverage.  Even without a visual, several broadcast media outlets also covered the story to announce the scope of the distribution effort

B-roll #1 – Book Arrival  - Thursday, June 22:  Playing up the secrecy surrounding the book, a b-roll package was produced and distributed via satellite from's Delaware distribution center upon the book’s arrival.  This initiative provided broadcast media with the first and only visuals related to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and coverage was picked up by local affiliates, cable feeds and national news programs across the country including CNN, MSNBC and CNBC

Associated Press Photo – Thursday, June 22:  On the same day the books were delivered, an AP photographer was secured to capture a photo and feed it to the national photo wire 

Media Packing Parties – Thursday, June 29 through Thursday, July 6:  Key media were secured for live and taped segments from inside’s Seattle and Atlanta distribution centers.  Pitching media on the extra security measures and an soundbite peaked interest and further enforced as Harry Potter “headquarters.”  Distribution center segments were arranged with the following: CBS Early Show, Today Show Weekend Edition, CNN, Business Week photographer, the Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer

B-roll #2 – Book Loading – Friday, July 7:  A b-roll package featuring packing books onto FedEx trucks as "prepares to deliver" Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was produced and distributed via satellite feed.  Distributing the b-roll early in the day on Friday enabled to capture a large percentage of broadcast coverage before major brick-and-mortar retailers could release their midnight store visuals

Final Muggle Count Alert – 12:01 a.m., Saturday,  July 8:  A media alert was distributed at

12:01 a.m. (the minute the book launched) with the final pre-order number - one of the most requested numbers from media

Celebrity Media Deliveries – Saturday, July 8:  By capturing the home addresses of key media, Saturday book deliveries were arranged via and FedEx.  Deliveries were targeted to garner possible mentions of on Monday shows.  Home media deliveries included: Katie Couric - Today Show; Diane Sawyer - Good Morning America; Pat O'Brien - Access Hollywood; Meredith Vieira - The View; Mary Hart - Entertainment Tonight; Jane Clayson  - CBS Early Show

FedEx Media Ride Alongs – Saturday, July 8:  Local broadcast media crews in key markets were invited to ride along with FedEx delivery personnel for day-of launch book deliveries.  Together, G/H and FedEx secured more than 40 media ride-alongs for the book's release day, including: ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, KCBS and KNBC in Los Angeles, KIRO, KOMO, KING and KCPQ in Seattle 

Press Release Distribution – Monday, July, 10:  A “day after, launch weekend" press release was distributed via BusinessWire on Monday morning.  The release contained key final delivery numbers for reporters tracking the phenomenon

Radio Media Tour/Radio News Release – Monday, July 10:  A three-hour morning drive- time radio media tour was conducted in-studio with’s fiction editor


Public relations efforts for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire generated both media and business/sales results.  Media results included print and broadcast coverage for in each one of its target markets and in the top-20 ADI.   Stories were placed in national, as well as key regional, print, television broadcast, radio and online outlets along with multiple hits in syndicated wire services.  From a business standpoint, the program secured almost 300,000 pre-orders for the book via, the largest 

pre-order ever for the site and more than six times the second largest at 43,000.  Out of these orders, approximately 30 percent were new customer acquisitions.


TOTAL MEDIA IMPRESSIONS: 817,908,298            
TOTAL AD VALUE: $12,806,212

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