Located in Woodstock, VT, the Billings Farm & Museum (BFM) is a 150-year-old operating dairy and agriculture farm that offers interactive and educational exhibits for visitors. When Redpoint came on as PR agency of record in early 2020, our job was to raise awareness for the attraction locally, regionally, and – to the extent possible – nationally. And while the pandemic forced a change in our strategy, it didn’t change our job.
Throughout 2020 and 2021, despite the attraction’s numerous closures and openings based on ricocheting state guidelines, we shepherded a strong, proactive media relations effort for BFM. The results during that time reached nearly a half billion people across broadcast, print, and online media.
Key to this success was creativity, flexibility, ingenuity…and FREQUENCY. We pitched new angles to the media every few weeks, always giving them a fresh reason to feature or include BFM in a story.
We collaborated closely with the BFM team to stay in lock-step on their evolving operations, promoting take-home/pick-up/virtual activities during closures, and safe onsite activities during openings. We put BFM on and ahead of pandemic and quarantine trends, like virtual learning/experiences, home cooking, gardening, and the public’s desire for seeing cute animals and longing for a simpler time.
Compelling pitches that were crafted and shared with media included (for example):
- Introducing “Norman the Lambassador,” with a precious smiling photo of the farm’s newest baby lamb during the height of the pandemic in Spring 2020.
- Bringing Draft Animal Week and Baby Farm Animal Celebrations online for a virtual experience.
- Promoting “Activities to Go” kits and virtual classes for kids.
- Instruction on gardening and produce canning for novices.
- Outdoor consumer events like the Pollination Celebration and the return of the Sunflower House (in collaboration with nearby Woodstock Inn & Resort).
- Holiday celebrations, seasonal activities, and “places to take the kids.”
Resulting PR coverage has been incredibly strong for this nonprofit attraction, with more than 300 placements in just two years. And while a deep emphasis targeted media within a two-hour radius of the attraction, many of our pitches scored national attention as well. See these broadcast media highlights and a recap of Spring 2020 media highlights, plus stories in USA Today, Rachael Ray In Season, and Thrillist. Other coverage has included The Boston Globe, Burlington Free Press, Country Living, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, AFAR, The Points Guy, Forbes, AARP The Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Veranda, New England Today, Boston.com, Boston Magazine, PureWow, and a ton of critical local/regional news, parenting, and media outlets.
2020 started out strong for Perillo Tours, whose core business focuses on offering escorted, private, and custom tours to Italy. Tourism in Italy was at an all-time high and Perillo was celebrating 75 successful years in business. But in late January 2020 when Italy declared a national emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic and locked down the country, tourism there (and everywhere) ground to a halt.
This forced Perillo (along with the rest of the industry) to cancel all tours indefinitely, and presented a serious PR challenge: how could we maintain a PR presence for Perillo Tours during the pandemic, and keep interest in travel to Italy with Perillo high…at a time when media appetites for covering travel to Italy was low?
Our solution had to take many factors into account. Travelers were scrambling to cancel vacation plans amidst the travel ban, repeated surges in cases kept the “return to travel” date elusive, and any business promoting travel – especially to Covid-19 “hot spots” like Italy – was perceived as irresponsible. So, we knew this challenge would be no walk in the park.
First, we recommended a temporary pause in proactive publicity to let the initial dramatic media frenzy fade a bit. Next, we identified a list of media outlets that we felt were good candidates for positive Italy tourism awareness stories. And then, we crafted precisely-tailored pitches for specific journalists at each outlet. These focused on covering Perillo and Italy from creative angles that put owner Steve Perillo in the interview seat, talking about such topics as:
- His top 10 places to eat pizza in Italy
- The current and future state of travel to Italy
- How to experience Italy virtually
- How to best “plan now, travel later” with flexible cancellation policies
- Bucket list Italy experiences you should seek out post-pandemic
These and other angles changed the narrative and gave Italy-starved media an opportunity to cover the destination in a way that works for the current trend landscape.
Media response to this campaign of targeted pitches was super strong, with editorial coverage appearing in in Forbes, Rick Steve’s Europe, Fox Business News, On Travel Radio, AAA Magazine, The Detroit News, Trip Savvy, Travel Research Online, TravelPulse, Media Post, TravelAge West, Agent at Home, Kiplinger, Johnny Jet, and more. Consistent coverage over a six month period really kept the Perillo Tours PR presence high during the critical pandemic time.
We’re not gonna lie… international destination PR is a lot easier when the borders between countries are open for travel. But you still have to build tourism PR awareness despite border closures, which means you’ve got to find another way to stay top-of-mind and stoke interest for future travel.
As the US PR agency of record for the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, and Prince Edward Island, we had some major (re)strategizing to do when the border closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our work for these provinces – collectively known as the Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism – focuses heavily on highlighting the rich experiences the region offers to travelers. So, our biggest challenge when the pandemic hit was finding ways to continue having thoughtful, meaningful, and experiential engagements with media during the shutdown. Solution? A four-province Zoom virtual media tour, complete with experiential goodie boxes sent to journalists in advance (because who doesn’t love stuff like lobster gummies and chocolate covered potato chips?).
Over the course of two months, we orchestrated a series of virtual interviews between top US journalists and representatives of the four provinces. Provincial reps were prepped in advance with story ideas, tourism news from each province, and key journalist information to make the interviews fully interactive. Logistics included:
- Content preparation and agenda development for each interview.
- Pitching and securing journalist interest and participation for the Zoom tour, targeting a balanced blend of on-staff travel & lifestyle writers and leading freelancers.
- Running dress rehearsals with the province teams to ensure smooth Zoom experiences.
- Assembling and delivering Atlantic Canada goodie boxes with snacks and items from all four provinces to all the journalists prior to their interview date.
- Facilitating and serving as emcee during each journalist interview with the four provincial reps, fostering conversation and story starters.
- And of course, seizing post-interview follow-up opportunities to secure stories, plan future journalist visits, and supply more info/photos based upon journalist interest. We were also able to connect US-based publications with Atlantic Canada-based writers to produce stories despite the international travel restrictions.
Border closure be damned… the virtual media tour was a smash hit. With 14 successful journalist interviews hosted as part of the tour, Atlantic Canada connected with a variety of US travel and lifestyle publications that offered a combined potential audience of 192 million. From these interviews, stories have either appeared or are in the works for Travel + Leisure, The Boston Globe, Thrillist, Fodor’s Travel, BuzzFeed, CNN Travel, Barron’s Penta, Boston Magazine, Forbes, USA Today, Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, AARP, Departures, and many more.
Further, strengthening journalist relationships through virtual media tours became a critical initiative throughout the entire border closure period and even well beyond reopening. That first tour laid the foundation for many that followed.
Want to see what else we’ve done for Atlantic Canada’s PR program? Watch this highlights reel.
Pandemics are not welcome for obvious reasons, but they’re especially unwelcome when they hit just a couple of months before a new hotel opening. The Hammetts Hotel in Newport, RI faced just such a challenge, and we were forced to scrap our original PR plans to create a big media splash for its planned May 2020 opening when the Covid-19 pandemic shut down businesses.
As we awaited verdicts on all the unknowns in play – when will businesses be allowed to open?… will the hotel finish construction in time to catch the summer season?… will people travel once they’re allowed to? – we regrouped to develop a new PR strategy that would maximize attention within the unpredictable, pandemic-dominated climate. What do you do when your car swerves beyond your control? You steer into the skid.
With its design, amenities, and location, Hammetts already had a cool story to share. But by choosing to open its doors for debut amidst a pandemic, it offered a relevant, newsworthy hook for journalists hungry to share positive travel industry developments. We leveraged that angle strategically, transforming Hammetts into a bright spot of news among the industry’s doom and gloom.
With a seriously short runway between “it’s a go” and “doors open,” our preliminary pitching wave focused on short lead media outlets and regional coverage. A key part of hotel launch PR is securing visits from leading journalists to experience the property… and this vital strategy was rendered significantly more complex by travel and quarantine restrictions. Even if we secured journalists willing to travel during this time, state travel restrictions had to be monitored daily – and at some points, hourly – to switch gears and rearrange plans as necessary.
Hammetts opened its doors on June 26 and media coverage was strong right out of the gate, including this multipage feature in The Boston Globe (Hammetts’ top market) entitled This Hotel Has Only Ever Known a Pandemic. Additional editorial coverage included a feature segment on WPRI-TV (CBS), Forbes, New England Today, Business Insider, MSN.com, and a host of regional RI outlets. Since then, stories have continued to appear in such outlets as Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Brides, Boston Common, Martha Stewart Weddings, AAA Magazine, BuzzFeed, Providence Business News, and many more.
As the North American PR and brand stewards for the island of Saint Lucia for seven years, we were continually engaged in creating integrated, multi-year campaigns that have a lasting, positive impact on the destination’s image and – more importantly – set the island apart in the Caribbean. Such was the case when the Saint Lucia Tourist Board sought to raise the island’s culinary credibility.
With a destination known for its beaches and tropical romance…convincing the media to care about Saint Lucia’s culinary offerings required creativity and some elbow grease. But we’ve tasted Saint Lucian chocolate and so we DEFINITELY knew where to begin.
Our creation of the annual August Saint Lucia Chocolate Heritage Month was deliciously multifaceted and provided compelling off-season “reasons to come” for visitors. To bring it to life, we…
- Researched the island’s legendary history for producing distinctive chocolate
- Worked directly with on-island businesses, hotels, restaurants, spas, and plantation owners to create an annual series of consumer offerings
- Created the Saint Lucia Chocolate Heritage Trail as a way to market the various culinary offerings in an accessible, promotable, and consumer-friendly way
- Created a full complement of print and digital marketing tools and consumer resource materials, including an interactive Chocolate Heritage Trail map available online
- Secured Saint Lucian-born chef Nina Compton – fan favorite on Bravo TV’s Top Chef – to become the destination’s culinary ambassador, for videos, media interviews, cooking demos, and more
- Annual press trips and individual journalist visits, with special chocolate themed itineraries timed for seasonal stories
Just how tasty were the results? More than 30 editorial feature stories supporting the positioning of Saint Lucia as a leading culinary destination – ignited by the chocolate angles and evolved from there – appeared in the first two years of the campaign alone. Culinary coverage in coveted outlets from T: The New York Times Style Magazine and Saveur to The Washington Post to Essence, New York Daily News, Miami Herald, Virtuoso Life and more led to a strong image shift for the destination over the life of the campaign.
PS – we got to eat a lot of chocolate.
When you have a client that’s willing to don crazy wigs, wear neon lipstick, bury treasure, and do handstands for photo ops, it certainly adds frivolity to the PR toolbox. But as the agency of record for Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Waterparks in Wildwood NJ from 2012 to 2020, we took our responsibilities to secure press coverage pretty seriously… even when it meant we had to test out new boardwalk food and rides to properly pitch them (hey, someone’s gotta).
Our job each year encompassed a wide field, including:
- Get coverage: traditional media, blogs, social influencers
- Generate ideas: big, small, wacky, charitable, sales, press… you name it
- Grow business: extra-special support for spring and fall seasons
- Regional targeting: heightened focus on Philadelphia and New Jersey regional media, especially finding new creative ways to get the same high-profile media to care about Morey’s every year
Each winter when the park closed for the season, we partnered with the fabulous Morey’s in-house team to plan the following year’s opening-to-closing-day robust PR and social strategy. New rides and exhibits provided natural news hooks for any seasonal attraction, and we treated each launch with high-octane power…but of course these precious PR gifts weren’t always in the operations plan. So, we ALSO created our own news opportunities each year using existing rides/elements and good old marketing ingenuity. Some highlights:
Doggie Dash & Splash: an event that opens the waterpark to dogs on the last weekend of the season, featuring a puppy pool party, 5K run for dogs/owners, partnership with rescue charity, hotel packages and more.
WildwoodStock: an annual opening weekend food and music festival launched in 2019, kicked off as part of the 50th anniversary season (ahem…launched the same year as Woodstock’s 50th anniversary), that provides a strong balance to the fall Oktoberbest closing season events.
Breakfast in the Sky (and Buyout for Groups): for leisure guests on weekend mornings in July and August or for groups to do a buyout any time, the Ferris wheel became a high-end restaurant, featuring white linens and china, custom gourmet breakfast, and the ability to savor it all inside each car while the wheel gently spins to showcase coastal views.
Mother’s Day Tea at the Tea Cups: a now-annual event we created in 2013 that features delectable tea service for moms and their kids in the iconic Tea Cups ride, plus brunch, cookie decorating, photo ops, and hotel packages.
#MoreysWildWedding Vow Renewal Contest: a wild and joyful social media contest that selected 50 adventurous couples to participate in a mass-vow-renewal ceremony in front of the legendary Ferris wheel.
Kong’s First Birthday: a fun way to get media coverage and drive crowds for the wildly popular KONG ride, a year after it debuted on the pier… we threw a birthday party for the world’s largest one-year-old.
Using a strategic combination of tailored pitching, in-market media tours, press trips, hosting broadcast crews, visiting journalist/blogger/influencer campaigns, press releases, and more, we saturated media year after year for Morey’s…most importantly in the attractions key drive markets. Cover stories (like this one in Family Business), newspaper centerfolds (like this one in The Record/NJ), huge feature stories (like this one in the Philadelphia Inquirer), and more than 100 broadcast segments (like this one on CBS-3 Philadelphia and this one on ABC-6 Philadelphia) have kept the media spotlight firmly fixed on this iconic Wildwood attraction.
No one ever expects a Tomato Whisperer. But that’s one of the creative threads in the image tapestry we’re helping weave for this American legacy resort.
With a 200+ year old history and roots tied to the legendary Rockefeller family, the resort was embarking on a multiyear, $16.5 million renovation. The goal was to foster appeal to a new and growing group of luxury leisure travelers (younger and affluent) while still cultivating loyalty from mature audiences that have embraced the resort for generations.
Naturally, the executives wanted a big PR splash to tell the world about their renovations. But of course, the media pretty much yawn when you just try to dazzle them with budget sizes, renderings, and before/after photos. Renovations are a dime a dozen in the travel world, so our job was to figure out a compelling way to make the media care.
Enter bees, slow tea, gourds, flowers, 57 kinds of tomatoes, and an experiential foodie paradise.
Nestled within the renovation plan was the debut of The Red Barns at Kelly Way Gardens, a state-of-the-art culinary center to house classes, events, and dining experiences. The barns and gardens delivered absolutely stunning visuals, and the culinary center offered an unexpectedly dramatic experiential hub, smack in the middle of the Vermont countryside. Our little PR antennae quivered the moment we learned about this, and we immediately chose it as the hook that would make these renovations stand apart.
Our PR campaign for the image shift begain in spring 2018 and leveraged The Red Barns at Kelly Way Gardens to draw the media spotlight on the entire resort, targeting a contemporary luxury audience. To achieve this, we…
- Media trained resort Executive Chef Rhys Lewis and Master Gardener Benjamin Pauly to align talking points with overall renovation story
- Orchestrated a creative, newsworthy photo and video shoot to develop the core publicity assets needed to best tell the story
- Worked with the resort to develop interesting and unique classes – such as Slow Tea in the Garden, which sourced herbs and honey from the resort’s own bees and gardens – to leverage for launch phase press releases, feature story development, and social influencer opportunities
- Pitched and secured experiential visits for leading journalists, both individual itineraries and group press trips
- Not gonna lie… we also tasted a sizable amount of the 200 different fresh vegetables from the gardens
The media responded with interest and excitement, and the results keep on coming. Significant coverage has showcased the resort – barns, gardens, AND interior renovations – with feature stories in key targets such as The Boston Globe, Food & Wine, Departures, Town & Country, Montreal Gazette, Yankee Magazine, NECN, and more. Social influencer coverage exceeded 10 million (and counting), and the resort was particularly excited about other cool wins, such as a full two days of stories on Country Living’s Instagram channel, and a full 10-minute editorial segment on the coveted PBS show “Weekends with Yankee.”
In the fall of 2019, we tested the waters on positioning Ben Pauly as The Tomato Whisperer. Come ON… the man grows more than 60 varieties of tomatoes in extraordinary gardens that would make your jaw drop, and his elegant tomato tasting dinners are – dare we say it? – tasteful… in every sense of the word. He’s got some magic juju with tomatoes for sure.
Up next? We’re adding sunflowers to Ben’s repertoire, with the debut of his 20,000 square foot Sunflower House featuring more than 100 varieties of sunflowers. Summer 2021 saw extensive media coverage of Ben’s new masterpiece including these gems in Thrillist and Veranda.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square attracts a lot of visiting tourists, thanks to its high-traffic location on 42nd Street and global Ripley’s branding. But school holidays offer the chance to lure in locals, as city-bound (and often snowbound) parents plot things to occupy their kids over the school break. And trust us…it’s not easy getting New Yorkers interested in going anywhere NEAR Times Square.
We took one President’s Week as a test case, to see how increased NYC-area media spotlight on a reason to come NOW would impact visitor count. A highly visual news hook was needed to tie “President’s Day” to “Ripley’s Believe It or Not,” and so on went our weird, wacky, and creative thinking caps. We crafted the idea to create an “unbelievable” sculpture of Mount Rushmore using unexpected, creative materials, and allow visitors to watch the sculptor bring the piece to life right in the lobby of Ripley’s over President’s Day Weekend.
As food-themed events have proven successful for Ripley’s in the past, we did extensive (and fun) research into US artists who specialize in culinary sculptures, such as chocolate, butter, and fruit. Our research found The Cheese Lady, Wisconsin-born former dairy farmer Sarah Kaufmann, who agreed to carve Mount Rushmore (with a Ripley’s twist) into a 160-lb, 6-foot long solid block of cheddar cheese. She is a “Master Cheese Sculptor” (believe it), who creates cheese sculptures as a full-time career. We worked with her to design the sketches for a Ripley’s-themed Mount Rushmore (a spike driven up Lincoln’s nose, Roosevelt as a shrunken head, etc.) to ensure maximum Ripley’s branding. We also tapped our friends at Cabot Creamery to donate the massive cheese block and provide tasting samples in exchange for PR and onsite branding.
The result? The visitor count over that President’s Day Weekend was the highest holiday weekend total ever achieved since the attraction opened its doors in 2007. And it was all due to the PR coverage: the event was featured as a “Hot Pick” in the New York Post, including an extensive interview with Sarah, and selected as a “Critics’ Pick of the Week” in both the print and online editions of Time Out New York. Other coverage included TV segments on NBC TODAY Weekend, MSNBC, and WPIX-TV, radio segments (which aired multiple times) on 1010 WINS-AM, WCBS-AM 880 News, WBBR-AM Bloomberg Radio, and online coverage including Time Out New York Kids, Big Apple Parent, New York Family, City Guide New York, Cheap Eats, and many more, including a Reuters syndicated photo.
PS. We ate all the leftover cheese. #takingonefortheteam
As Miami is the home base for so many cruise ships sailing to the Caribbean and Mexico, the sight of big white cruise ships sailing into PortMiami barely prompts a yawn from the city’s residents. Even the debut of new cruise ships are a dime a dozen in that port, which presents a challenge when attracting the desensitized media: there’s not much they haven’t seen when it comes to cruise ship launches. So when MSC Cruises decided to reposition its ship MSC Divina to be based in Miami year-round, the prospects for securing show-stopping local coverage were slim. Not only was Divina NOT a new ship, but the European-based brand itself had limited awareness in the city, which has long been dominated by North American cruise companies. To cut through this clutter and score high-profile media coverage, our news hook had to be quirky and set itself apart from the traditional cruise ship launch model of celebrities, red carpet events, and announcements of the newest onboard “toys.”
Leveraging MSC’s existing partnership with the chic Italian carmaker FIAT®, we collaborated with MSC, FIAT, and PortMiami to eschew the traditional tugboat-and-fireboat escort of a ship into its home port for the first time. Instead, a fleet of instantly-recognizable FIAT 500’s would “drive” out onto the water as the official escorts for Divina, creating an arresting visual that would turn the heads of even the most desensitized residents of Miami, as well as a must-have media photo opportunity. OK, so maybe they were actually personal watercraft overlaid with a FIAT 500 car body, but still…they did the trick. And we had all the right photographers in place to capture the hero shots.
Hundreds of print, broadcast, and online stories resulted from this dramatic arrival. The Miami Herald ran a photo/caption that spanned nearly the entire above-the-fold front page; MSN.com made it their “Photo of the Week;” The Wall Street Journal featured a quarter-page photo/caption; the Associated Press syndicated photo was picked up everywhere, and WTVJ-MIA (NBC Miami) covered the arrival extensively. Other substantive coverage ranged from Travel & Leisure to the Toronto Sun, Travel Agent and more. Putting it in perspective…this was a simple ship repositioning, transformed into a national news story.