East Coast surfers catch WAVE, seek higher profile

OCEAN CITY, MD: The Eastern Surfing Association has hired the Washington, DC firm of WAVE Public Relations to give a boost to public perception of East Coast surfing. The problem is not only that people start 'California Dreaming' when the word 'surfing' is mentioned, but they lack knowledge of a booming industry on the US's right coast.

OCEAN CITY, MD: The Eastern Surfing Association has hired the Washington, DC firm of WAVE Public Relations to give a boost to public perception of East Coast surfing. The problem is not only that people start 'California Dreaming' when the word 'surfing' is mentioned, but they lack knowledge of a booming industry on the US's right coast.

OCEAN CITY, MD: The Eastern Surfing Association has hired the Washington, DC firm of WAVE Public Relations to give a boost to public perception of East Coast surfing. The problem is not only that people start 'California Dreaming' when the word 'surfing' is mentioned, but they lack knowledge of a booming industry on the US's right coast.

'It's like New York and Hollywood,' said Wayne Henninger, president of WAVE PR. 'The glitz and glamour is on the West Coast. But the work ethic and emphasis on starting young and paying your dues is on the East Coast.'

Actually, the 7,000 member ESA bills itself as the world's largest surfing association, says executive director, Kathy Phillips. But the East Coast suffers in part because the industry and its leading publications are centered in and around Orange County, CA.

'We want to force the West Coast coalition to pay attention to us,' said Phillips.

The first big event to be promoted is the ESA's September 23-29 Eastern Surfing Championships 2000, but the longer-range goal is to promote the ESA and East Coast surfing in general. A concerted effort will be made to follow up on the results of the surfing championship and promote the ESA's team of All-Stars.

'We know that Newsday is unlikely to cover the event. But there will be All-Stars from the Long Island area. We want to let them know - here are some hometown heroes.'

The All-Stars are important, says Henninger, because many go on to become leading surfers worldwide. Six-time world champion Kelly Slater is a former ESA All-Star, as is world-class bodyboarder Jay Reale.

ESA is also planning to boost its visibility in trade shows and by producing a video during the coming year, but Henninger sees the association providing an even larger lesson when it comes to PR.

'Other sports associations can learn the importance of working with the young,' said Henninger, noting that the ESA starts teaching the fundamentals to tykes as young as four.

Henninger told PRWeek that his firm has been signed to a one-year contract, but he would not disclose the dollar amount. Dave Robertson, director of WAVE's Sports Wave division will be handling the account.



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