In its second year of operation, the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific needed a summer 1999 promotion to attract visitors during its peak period. To do so, it created ’Sea Otter Summer.’ Why sea otters?
In its second year of operation, the Long Beach Aquarium of the
Pacific needed a summer 1999 promotion to attract visitors during its
peak period. To do so, it created ’Sea Otter Summer.’ Why sea
Because 24% of visitors cite the sea otter exhibit as the one they most
want to see.
Looking for a news hook, the aquarium’s PR department found a sad one:
California sea otters are close to being on the endangered species
That fact became the theme.
The welcome addition of a new sea otter pup to the aquarium in May 1999
added another news peg. Since this otter had been orphaned and abandoned
when she was only a week old, the PR team used her story to
’personalize’ the challenges otters face in the wild.
The publicity effort started with a media kit aimed at journalists in
Southern California and in nearby markets such as Arizona. The aquarium
provided a photogenic venue to stimulate the media’s interest. A media
event on June 17, 1999 involved animal caretakers inside the exhibit,
feeding and training the sea otters, while a curator outside discussed
otter behavior and what can be done to help otters in the wild. One
month before the press event, all media received press kits with pitch
letters listing coverage opportunities. Alerts were sent to all Southern
California media a few days before the actual press event.
The Los Angeles Times got the first look at the new sea otter pup in
mid-May. Other newspapers received photos of the animal, and a B-roll of
the new pup went to the TV stations. The aquarium’s audio-visual
department produced a looped video of the curators caring for the new
baby otter to show visitors.
All local television outlets and Good Day LA (Los Angeles’ Fox affiliate
morning show) covered the event. Several regional and local newspapers,
including The Palm Springs Desert Sun, Long Beach Press Telegram and LA
Weekly, wrote feature articles about it. The Los Angeles Times’ piece
appeared June 17. The story also won ink in out-of-town and national
publications, including the Chicago Tribune, The Detroit News and Air
NBC Nightly News even did a segment highlighting the plight of sea
otters in the wild based on information in the media kit.
’The great coverage we got and the large attendance numbers that
resulted set us up for another good year, with projected attendance of
more than a million,’ says Michele Nachum, the museum’s PR manager.
Client:Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach, CA)
PR Team: In house - Laurie Whalen-Martinez and Michele Nachum
Campaign: Sea Otter Summer
Time Frame: June to August 1999
Budget: dollars 12,000