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Media Relations

Veterans Cannabis Project: Legislative Support Services & Media Relations

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Client: Veterans Cannabis Project

Tactics: Legislative Support Services, Media Relations

Strategy: Highlighted the importance of medical cannabis to reduce effects of a multitude of symptoms being experienced by veterans

Outcomes: 25 media placements, halting of legislative emails servers for 8 hours due to public response

A bipartisan bill on medical cannabis was up for a vote in January 2020 and the Veterans Cannabis Project (VCP) knew that this bill was integral to further treatment for veterans in the Commonwealth. VCP hired our team to garner media awareness about the bill and help activate the community to reach out to their legislators to support the bill. The result far exceeded our objective – in fact so many people emailed their legislators that the email servers crashed from the outreach on medical cannabis alone, which ultimately led to the passage of the bill.

With a Goal of garnering media awareness of integral medical cannabis legislation to help veterans, our Objective was to increase local news mentions of VCP’s lobby day to a total of five placements over the course of one week. We leveraged the Strategy of highlighting the importance of medical cannabis to reduce effects of a multitude of symptoms. Our targeted Audience were regional and local media outlets, local community, and legislators.

Our firm worked with the VCP team to plan a media day to share information on how this bill would impact veterans. We created media advisories, press releases and pitches for the event, with a focus on engaging the community to contact their legislators. We arranged interviews, pitched individual outlets and fostered personal connections with editors and reporters. Our individualized media pitches helped generate excitement and positive sentiment.

We far exceeded our objective securing more than 25 individual media placements. Every story we pitched received media coverage.

We also evaluated our efforts by the response from the community. Due to media awareness VCP garnered 15,000 Virginians signing a letter to the Governor and over 25,000 emails – halting the legislative email servers for eight hours.

“Dogs of Sea Tow” Campaign Brings in Big Numbers

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Client: Sea Tow

Tactics: Media Relations, Creative Tactics

Strategy: Developed a creative media relations campaign involving a Sea Tow co-captain, Charlie Brown the dog.

Outcomes: 1,500 Facebook shares, 2 million impressions, an online audience of nearly 200,000 readers and an uptick in membership in the weeks following the news coverage.

 

 

When our client Sea Tow, which provides on-the-water assistance to boaters 24-hours a day, reached out to us to share a story about a co-captain we weren’t expecting a 100-pound chocolate lab named Charlie Brown. Charlie had gained the esteemed title of co-captain after Sea Tow Wrightsville Beach franchise owner, Captain Scott Collins frequently brought his four-legged friend along for the ride while assisting members and the community on the water.

Primary research was gathered through interviews with the Sea Tow Wrightsville Beach franchise and several of its captains. During one of these interviews, we learned about Charlie Brown, a chocolate lab owned by Captain Scott Collins that helps out as co-captain of his Sea Tow boat. This discovery quickly led to our first-ever “Dogs of Sea Tow” media relations campaign. Secondary research consisted of conducting searches to find reporters that could tell Charlie’s story.

At this point, we decided to target the franchise’s largest local newspaper, The Wilmington Star-News, and use the placement and buzz to generate additional media coverage with local television outlets. After identifying a targeted reporter, our team crafted a phone pitch and email that included photographs of Charlie and his story.

On July 27, our team reached out via a phone call to the features editor and sent our email pitch. Shortly thereafter, the editor agreed to tell Charlie’s story. During this time, our team was in constant contact with the client, where we provided media coaching and any other necessary support.

Charlie Brown’s story was published on August 11. As planned, we used the story to persuade other media in the market meet Charlie Brown, resulting in TV interviews and other placements. Activities resulted in more than 1,500 Facebook shares of media placements, 2 million impressions and an online audience of nearly 200,000 readers.

We evaluated our efforts through several phone and email conversations with the franchisee, where he told us he was thrilled with the publicity they received through the campaign. Captain Collins said people recognize Charlie Brown all over Wilmington now. They also told us they saw an uptick in memberships in the weeks immediately following the news coverage.

The success of our localized “Dogs of Sea Tow” led to the campaign being adopted as an integral part of Sea Tow’s 2018 public relations plan. We plan to feature as many of our franchise’s as possible in the campaign.

Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome Makes College Basketball Debut

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Client: Travelocity

Tactics: Media Relations

Strategy: Established a creative media pitch involving an opportunity to interview Travelocity’s iconic “Roaming Gnome” mascot

Outcomes: Over a dozen media placements and nearly 1 million impressions

 

It may sound strange – pitching Travelocity’s de facto mascot the Gnome for TV, radio and newspaper interviews. He can’t even talk, but we made it work! Travelocity, the nationally-known online travel agency, utilized its sponsorship of ESPN GameDay to send the Gnome to locations where the sports network was covering marquee college basketball games. With a program called “The Roaming Gnome,” Travelocity sent its iconic Gnome to Charlottesville for the highly-publicized matchup between the University of Virginia and inter-conference rival Duke. Media relations was used to secure interviews with, and news stories about, the Gnome – heightening awareness of Travelocity and Charlottesville through a fun and interesting technique.

Primary research was gathered through conference calls with Travelocity’s PR team. This helped determine what had worked in other markets when pitching the Gnome, as well as the company’s key messaging to be communicated.

Secondary research was conducted via Internet searches to find out how the Gnome was covered in other markets, studying how other markets positioned the Gnome with the media. We found that the uniqueness and recognizable traits of the Gnome were strong enough assets to secure interviews. We also discovered that the Gnome highlighting the city he was visiting created another focus for the media to cover.

Armed with the goal of using media relations to generate as much publicity and attention for Travelocity as possible, we decided to leverage the strategy of utilizing the uniqueness of the Gnome visiting Charlottesville and University of Virginia’s most iconic landmarks to secure interviews.

The result was the development of a media pitch that focused on eight to ten landmarks, as well as the direct offer for the Gnome to be interviewed. Travelocity provided a template media advisory that we utilized with our custom pitch. We were challenged with making sure reporters understood how an interview with a ceramic gnome would work. The solution was personal phone calls to reporters and assignment desks to explain the program.

We strategically divided up our media pitches by familiarity with reporters. We first emailed our pitch along with the media advisory, following up by phone to explain the opportunity. This resulted in a positive first impression by the media in regards to a national company highlighting their local university town and added the dynamic of a fun and different interview opportunity. We then arranged interviews for the Gnome via his handler, a Travelocity employee.

We saw an immediate reaction from our media outreach, as reporters from around the area posted information about the Gnome’s visit and wrote about how excited they were to have an interview with the iconic figure.

More than 13 placements were generated with almost 1 million impressions. Emails revealed that our activities generated a top number of media placements when compared to other markets. We also evaluated our efforts through emails and phone calls with staff from Travelocity, who were thrilled about the media coverage and results. Travelocity provided a budget, which we were able to stay within during execution.

 

Bringing Awareness to Distracted Driving

Client: McGeorge Toyota

Tactics: Media Relations, Social Media

Strategy: Separated McGeorge Toyota from its competitors by helping to raise awareness of distracted driving through the establishment of a scholarship program

Outcomes: More than 1 million impressions, increased brand awareness

 

In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. About 10% of those drivers were under the age of 20. With this in mind, local automotive dealership McGeorge Toyota leveraged a scholarship program to help build awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

Primary research was gathered through meetings with the McGeorge Toyota leadership and marketing department to get an idea of topics of importance among their target customers. Additionally, key local organizations or influencers, such as high school counselors and local nonprofit, DriveSmart Virginia, were identified as targets for potential partnerships that could increase awareness of the program.

Secondary research helped to uncover other distracted driving scholarship programs in other parts of the country. One program in particular required a 140-character entry – the length of a tweet – followed by an essay. This unique way to enter for the scholarship ended up being our entry protocol, providing a challenge, but also content that could be used via social media channels to continue awareness.

Research also uncovered a list of high school guidance counselors that were contacted to help spread the word about the program to students. Lastly, we found there were an abundance of website searches for “scholarships in Virginia,” and that web advertising could be used to drive attention and entries to the scholarship program.

With the GOAL of increasing McGeorge Toyota’s brand among potential target audiences (parents, moms, decision makers) who could purchase a vehicle from the dealership in the future, the STRATEGY of heightening awareness of an important topic via a scholarship program was established. The program was also designed to help increase McGeorge Toyota’s brand as a reputable company, increase trustworthiness, and boost awareness.

We named the program: “McGeorge Toyota’s Saving Lives, Supporting Futures, Scholarship Program,” and created logos to assist with brand recognition. We established a budget of $2,500 for website advertising, and $2,000 per-month ($12,000 total for the six-month program) for public relations, media relations, social media content development, and grassroots marketing.

During the planning phase, we also came up with the application process and design. To apply for the scholarship, students submitted a personal statement limited to 140 characters stating, “I pledge to not text and drive because…” From those submissions, ten students were selected to submit an essay extending their explanation of why they will not text and drive.

On April 1, the beginning of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, our team began the first phase by pitching the scholarship story to local media. We continued pitching media outlets throughout the summer, focusing on the problem of distracted driving and McGeorge Toyota’s focus on bringing awareness to the issue. To kick off the program, we secured news stories from all local TV stations, the top daily newspaper in the market and several radio stations.

As we headed into May, we began the second phase of our plan, leveraging the list of high school guidance counselors we uncovered during our research, as well as launching advertising, social media and grassroots marketing campaigns.

Additionally, we created and provided flyers, social media content, press releases and other materials to our influencer/partner DriveSmart Virginia to utilize and help promote the program.

Throughout the program we monitored who entered the scholarship and utilized their 140 character entries to promote the program via social media.

By the end of July, 121 people had entered the scholarship program. Via our efforts, more than 387 people visited the scholarship page on McGeorge Toyota’s website – about a 40 percent conversation rate for those visiting and applying for the scholarship.

Additionally, the relationship established with DriveSmart Virginia resulted in a greater awareness of McGeorge Toyota among its targeted audience, via presentations at the organization’s board of directors meeting and involvement at several events the organization was holding.

Media relations generated 16 news stories, with more than 1 million impressions.  We also evaluated our efforts via emails and face-to-face meetings with staff at McGeorge Toyota, where we heard about the results of our success and comments they received from customers.

We were acknowledged for increasing awareness of the dealership in a way that separated it from its competitors in the market, as well as our ability to stay within our pre-determined budget.

Message in a Bottle

Client: Rock Bottom Brewery

Tactics: Media Relations

Strategy: Created a press kit as unique and iconic as Rock Bottom’s popular craft brews

Outcomes: Media coverage resulting in more than 6 million impressions

Rock Bottom Brewery – a national icon in the restaurant/brewery industry – targeted Richmond, Va. to open a new location in 2014. Selecting Richmond, based on its reputation as one of the fastest-growing craft beer markets in the country, RBB needed a media relations program and accompanying press materials that were as unique as its beer and brand.

A research program, followed by strategic planning, became the foundation for a press kit that would leave reporters literally “wanting more.” Envision a message in a bottle: a press release rolled up inside of a Rock Bottom Brewery growler, presented alongside additional media materials.

Primary research was gathered through meetings with Rock Bottom Brewery’s leadership and PR and marketing departments. This helped us determine what had worked with other market openings, as well as the company’s value message that needed to be communicated.

Secondary research was conducted in the beer market in Richmond via Internet searches. We focused on how other craft breweries in Richmond got their news to the media. We found that a sample of the beer being brewed was often the best way to get the media’s attention. Research also revealed how much the local breweries used social media as a marketing tactic.

Armed with the goal of using media relations to generate as much publicity and attention of Rock Bottom’s opening as possible, we utilized the strategy of creating a press kit as unique and iconic as the company’s craft beer and brand. The result was a press kit that included a signature Rock Bottom beer growler, signed by brewmaster Becky Hammond, with the press release rolled up and placed in the top, creating the “message in a bottle” theme. Rock Bottom also supplied us with marketing folders to hold coupons, informational materials, menus and business cards of Rock Bottom’s general manager and brewmaster. We were challenged with the issue of where to place the cap for the growler. The solution was to tape the cap to a piece of paper inscribed with a unique custom-created, beer-related poem, and place it in the press kit folder.

We strategically split the media distribution sites by location and familiarity with the news staff. We traveled to hand deliver 30 press kits/growlers to reporters so we could see their reaction and answer questions. This resulted in a positive first impression of the brewery by the media and added incentive for the reporters to visit and taste the food, fill their growlers, and cover the opening.

We saw an immediate reaction from some of the media via their social media networks. Reporters from around the area posted pictures of the growlers on their desks and wrote about how excited they were to try Rock Bottom. More than 20 placements were generated, resulting in more than 6 million impressions. Emails revealed that the restaurant recorded Rock Bottom’s busiest opening ever and that media relations played a big part in driving that traffic.

Increasing Awareness and Supporting Donor Relationships Through Media Relations

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Client: Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia

Tactics: Media Relations

Strategy: Leveraged high-profile charitable deeds into increased media coverage and awareness of Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia

Outcomes: Media Coverage

On Dec. 9, 2014, Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia granted its most impactful wish of the year. Lee, a 15-year-old diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, received his wish of a Tracker Bass Boat.

Research and planning identified that media relations could be used to increase organizational awareness, while simultaneously supporting development.

Initial background information regarding the needs and goals of Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia was gathered through planning meetings and telephone conversations. Formal research included a survey of staff and board members, which provided valuable insight into the needs of the organization. Other research revealed the community’s confusion about Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia as “local.” Through the survey and conversations with staff, there was also a strong desire to leverage media relations to highlight and increase corporate partnerships.

Our program goal, defined during planning, was to increase awareness of Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia as a local nonprofit benefiting children in Virginia diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses, while simultaneously supporting development activities. This helped to define our strategy to leverage high-profile wishes, like Lee’s, to meet this goal.

As part of the planning process, our team also worked with Bass Pro Shops to secure a significant discount on the Tracker Bass Boat. After securing the discount, which made the wish possible, our team worked together with Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia, the wish sponsor, Trusted Choice, and Bass Pro Shops to develop a news release and timeline for media relations activities.

On Dec. 8, our team began pitching targeted local media outlets to secure coverage of Lee’s wish being granted. Follow-up calls were made to each media outlet, along with emails distributing the news release. Leading up to the event, we worked with Lee’s family to prepare them for news interviews. We managed media at the event and coordinated interviews with local TV and print media outlets. We also took photographs to accompany follow-up interviews or post-event interest from other media.

The event generated eight local media placements, but one of the TV stories was picked up by an additional nine media outlets across the country, including Boating World Magazine, resulting in a total of 2,722,295 media impressions.

We also evaluated our efforts through face-to-face meetings, emails and phone calls with the staff of Make-A-Wish, who were thrilled about the media coverage of the event and for their corporate sponsor, Trusted Choice.

 

Planting A Seed For Media Coverage

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Client: YWCA Sprout School’s Press Kit

Tactics: Social Media

Strategy: creating a press kit as unique and iconic as the new school’s name, brand and curriculum: The Sprout School

Outcomes: Media Coverage

When two of Richmond’s most respected nonprofits partnered to create a unique preschool to be housed in a children’s museum, they needed a press kit that was just as unique to encourage the media to attend a press conference announcing the initiative. Named The Sprout School, the program grew out of a partnership between the YWCA and Children’s Museum. A research program, followed by strategic planning, became the foundation for a press kit that would plant a seed of what the news was. Envision a children’s wooden toolbox, with a live plant, school supplies, a press folder, and sticker.

Primary research was gathered through meetings with the YWCA’s and Children’s Museum’s leadership, PR and marketing departments. This helped us understand the vision and theme of The Sprout School, as well as the new school’s value message that needed to be communicated.

We also researched the launch of other preschools in the country via Internet searches. This also revealed how other schools utilized social media to get the attention of reporters.

Armed with the goal of using media relations to generate as much publicity and attention of the school’s opening as possible and grow enrollment, we utilized the strategy of creating a press kit as unique and iconic as the new school’s name, brand and curriculum: The Sprout School. The result was a press kit made out of a colorful children’s toolbox that included small plants that played off the “sprout” theme, a terracotta pot with school supplies, a folder with a media advisory, press release and fact sheet about the school and its curriculum. Research identified that the school’s “Reggio Emilia-inspired” curriculum had its own brand and color pallet, which we matched with our press kit.

We were challenged with the issue of how to create a social media buzz before the press conference. The solution was to create a sticker that read: “Plant a pic on social media and watch it grow, use the hashtag #SproutWithYWCA to let people know.” to post a photo of the press kit on social media.

We strategically split the media distribution sites by location and familiarity with the news staff. We traveled to hand deliver nine press kits/toolboxes to reporters so we could see their reaction and answer questions. This resulted in a positive first impression of the new school by the media and added incentive for the reporters to cover the press conference.

We saw an immediate reaction from some of the media via photos of the kit on their social media networks. The press conference was highly attended by the media with more than 30 placements generated, resulting in 34 million impressions. Emails from the client revealed that the school received a $10,000 donation during the press conference and had maxed enrollment within 30 days of the announcement.

A History Story Like No Other Results In Pride and $10,000 Donation

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Client: UMFS’ Media Relations Program

Tactics: Media Relations

Strategy: Targeted local reporter Bill Lohmann from The Richmond Times-Dispatch to tell a history story that could have come from a Hollywood movie.

Outcomes: Media Coverage

It was a story that most would believe came from a Nicholas Sparks movie. Our client UMFS, which ran an orphanage in the 1930s, uncovered the story of a man named Ray Coffelt and tasked us with telling it the best way possible. While a teenage resident of the orphanage, Coffelt jumped on a train in Virginia, rode it to New Mexico, later joined the military and fought for his country, and returned to marry his sweetheart. The strategic pitch to a specific reporter resulted in Collfelt’s story running on the Fourth of July with the result of $10,000.

 

Primary research was gathered by reviewing archived photos from UMFS resources that included Ray Coffelt (now deceased). It was also done via personal phone calls with the Coffelt family. Nancy Coffelt, Ray’s wife met regularly with previous residents of UMFS’ orphanage known as “The Home” and gathered additional details pertaining to the story.

Additional research was conducted via review of a Facebook post that revealed that Ray Cofflet’s grandson had commented on a photo featuring his grandfather. Internet searches for the best reporter to cover the story turned out to be a game changer as it uncovered someone who loved to tell interesting history stories in a unique fashion.

Armed with the goal of using media relations to generate branding and awareness of UMFS, we leveraged the strategy of targeting reporter Bill Lohmann from The Richmond Times-Dispatch to tell a history story that could have come from a Hollywood movie. We then developed a specific media pitch that focused on his unique writing/reporting and key facts of the story.

We first emailed our pitch to Lohmann and within minutes he responded with interest. This resulted in a phone call with him to schedule the interview. Since Nancy Cofflet had aged and was not in the best of health, we were challenged with planning the interview and keeping the Coffelt family engaged through the logistics of scheduling an in-person meeting. We arranged interviews for the Coffelt family and UMFS staff. Lohmann met the Coffelt family on the campus of UMFS, where Ray and Nancy first met and later married. He talked through Ray’s history, scanned multiple photo albums, and took some pictures. The story ran on Independence Day, A Story of Remembrance.

We saw an immediate reaction from the story running as board members and UMFS staff read and shared the story. More than 6,000 people interacted with the Facebook posts that featured the Coffelt story and led to additional awareness of the history of UMFS. We also evaluated our efforts through emails and phone calls to UMFS staff and board members. The organization received an unsolicited $10,000 donation from a reader of the article. UMFS was thrilled with the results.

Fostering Futures Op-Ed Gains Virginia Lawmaker’s Attention

Client: UMFS Fostering Futures Op-ed

Strategy: sharing statistics about what happens to youths if they age out of foster care and how it affects state budgets

It’s a real crisis – a teenager in Virginia’s foster care system turns 18 and is forced onto the street with no help. The solution? Adding to the state budget to provide funding support for teens until they reach age 21, as long as they remain employed. When multiple organizations pulled together to advocate and lobby for the budget amendment Fostering Futures, it was education provided by a local CEO, known for advocating for teens, that created the much-needed education for lawmakers. The education came through the CEO’s op-ed that ran in the state’s largest daily newspaper.

Primary research was gathered through conference calls with organizations advocating for approval of a budget amendment called Fostering Futures, to provide support for foster teens until age 21. The game changer for this project came when research revealed teens who age out of foster care are likely to become homeless, school dropouts, incarcerated, and need long-term public assistance, a service that costs the state millions. By addressing the issue now, future public assistance dollars might be saved.

Additional research was conducted via Internet searches to learn how other states advocated to support teens aging out of foster care. We studied how other markets positioned issues with the media and found a combination of statistics followed by personal stories of these teenagers made the best impression.

With the goal of using an op-ed to educate lawmakers on the need for this budget approval, we leveraged our research and used the

strategy of sharing statistics about what happens to youths if they age out of foster care and how it affects state budgets. The result was developing an op-ed that positioned state lawmakers as “evicting” foster teens from care. It also communicated the example of a parent having to tell their child that when they turn 18 they had to move with no support. After we conducted an initial reporter-type interview with the CEO, we ghostwrote the op-ed and got an approval.

 

We strategically pitched the op-ed to the state’s largest daily newspaper, based in the state’s capital of Richmond, VA. This gave it the best opportunity to reach lawmakers while in session. We emailed our pitch and the op-ed, then followed up by phone to explain the issue at hand and timing since lawmakers were considering this budget amendment.

We saw an immediate reaction as the state’s Department of Social Services shared a link to the op-ed with its entire staff noting a call to action to contact their local legislator. We also received an email from the public affairs director from one local organization we conducted research with saying that legislators read the op-ed and it was bringing greater attention to the topic. The final piece of evaluation was the state legislatures approval of a budget amendment to fund foster teenagers until age 21, if employed.

Marine PR Work

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Client           Personal Watercraft Industry Association (PWIA)
Tactics         Media Relations, Grassroots Marketing, Legislative Support, Social Media
Strategy      Establish strategic alliances with PWC groups and clubs in order to communicate the message of safety on the water and push signatures for the pledge.
Outcomes     Media Coverage, Social Engagement and Growth, Increase in Signatures of Online Pledge Form

PWIA is a national association that was created to promote the safe, responsible and enjoyable operation of personal watercraft (PWC).

The group also serves as advocates for PWC manufacturers such as: Yamaha, Kawasaki, and BRP. The organization provides a unified voice for the industry and represents the interests of personal watercraft manufacturers in legislative and regulatory concerns, as well as the general on-the-water public.

Research

PRIMARY RESEARCH was gathered by Commonwealth PR through meetings with the Personal Watercraft Industry Association’s (PWIA) leadership, marketing department, members, and public affairs staff to get an idea of what worked and didn’t work the previous year. We also asked for details of the strategies and tactics implemented as part of the Safe Rider program. Additionally, key local, regional and national reporters were identified as targets based on previous coverage of the Safe Rider launch.

SECONDARY RESEARCH revealed what would be considered a “game changer” for possible registrations and advocacy of the program. Online research identified that in many states across the country, there are groups or clubs (potential advocates) specifically for personal watercraft (PWC) riders. This research provided detailed lists of PWC clubs with their contact information, allowing us to build a targeted national list of people who would likely sign and advocate for Safe Rider. Internet research also uncovered contact information for livery (marine rental) companies that rented Jet Skis, as well as marine police and other on-the-water enforcement agencies. Lastly, this research indicated that social media could be an additional platform for increasing signatures of the Safe Rider pledge, and helped us develop a list of advocates using social media.

Planning for Tactical Success

With the GOAL of driving a record-breaking number of sign-ups for Safe Rider, we utilized the strategy of establishing strategic alliances with the PWC groups and clubs (advocates) uncovered during our research phase, that would help communicate the message of safety on the water and push for signatures of the pledge. Our planning changed from being solely focused on media relations to including a broader array of tactics such as personalized letters, direct mail, phone calls, social media relationship building, and others.

Planning also involved developing the following objectives:

* Increase signatures of the Safe Rider pledge form by 10 percent (34) by the end of the second quarter and set a benchmark for the number of signatures achieved by the end of the summer.

* Establish at least three strategic alliances that help to communicate the message of safety on the water, drive Safe Rider signatures, and maximize brand awareness of PWIA, through traditional marketing tactics.

* Increase news mentions of PWIA and its programs, efforts, or member activities, to at least three (3) placements per quarter and set a benchmark for news coverage moving into the summer months and the launch of the Second Annual Safe Rider Program.

We also created a “Safe Rider” planning section and added it to our overall annual public relations plan. The program ran from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

During the planning phase, we also came up with the idea to develop a Safe Rider decal, which would be mailed with a personalized letter from the executive director of PWIA, to anyone who signed the pledge. The strategy was to utilize the decal to create a brand for Safe Rider that was recognizable and promoted the initiative.

Executing the Safe Rider Plan

On April 14, a little over a month before Memorial Day weekend, our team began a first phase by pitching national media that covered the PWC industry. We continued pitching media outlets throughout the summer targeting areas where PWC accidents had occurred.

After Memorial Day weekend, we began a second phase of our plan to utilize our research and discovery of PWC clubs and marine law enforcement groups, to have them advocate for the program. To communicate with these groups and create advocates of the program, we leveraged the following tactics:

*Emailed more than 50 PWC club leaders
*Mailed personalized letters to state marine law enforcement
*Applied for national recognized from the National Safe Boating Association
*Posted details of Safe Rider on social media channels at least twice a week.
*Conducted more than 50 phone calls to PWC club leaders
*Created customized social media content to share with other social media influencers, as well as PWIA members, that would promote Safe Rider.

Throughout the program we monitored who had signed the pledge and mailed their personalized letter and Safe Rider decal.

Double the Results, Double the Fun.

By Labor Day weekend 2014, the organization had received a 256% increase in signed pledge forms when compared to the previous year.

Additionally, relationships were established with multiple law enforcement groups were, six Jet Ski clubs. We submitted PWIA’s program to two groups to be recognized nationally. Media relations generated more than 100 news stories, with more than 10.5 million impressions. PWIA’s Facebook page grew from 521 Likes to 878, and Twitter followers from 220 to 350.

We also evaluated our efforts via emails and face-to-face meetings with staff of PWIA, where we heard about the results of our success, received comments from members of their association, and were acknowledged for our efforts that were increasing awareness of safe and responsible use of PWCs across the country.