FL selects CKPR for push to reignite tourism

TALLAHASSEE, FL: Visit Florida, the state's tourism arm, has selected CKPR to dispel myths about how much damage four recent hurricanes did to the region.

TALLAHASSEE, FL: Visit Florida, the state's tourism arm, has selected CKPR to dispel myths about how much damage four recent hurricanes did to the region.

The $175,000 campaign will rely heavily on national media relations to bring both leisure and business travelers back to the state following the destruction wrought by Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne.

Visit Florida is still calculating how significantly the state's $50 billion tourism sector (which includes a 392,000-room hotel industry) was affected after the hurricanes. The state as a whole faces some $25 billion in losses, according to Newark, CA-based Risk Management Solutions.

The PR effort is intended to replace the "top-of-mind visuals" that were prominent in the media's coverage of the storms, said Lou Anne Banks, VP and director of CKPR's Orlando office.

The agency will instead promote the state's beaches, shops, and cultural attractions. Media members and meeting planners are also being invited to Florida as part of the "Come see for themselves" initiative.

"We're concerned with how perceptions were influenced [by the media's coverage of the hurricanes]," said Vanessa Welter, Visit Florida's director of PR. "Basically, [the campaign] is stating the obvious for the consumer and inviting them back."

But the recovery story is only one phase of the campaign, Banks noted.

The agency will also help plan the state's "Downtowns and Small Towns" program, slated to begin next March.

As part of that campaign, Visit Florida will direct tourists visiting the traditional vacation spots through regions they might have previously overlooked - introducing travelers to the Hispanic culture in Ybor City, for example.

"We would let the tourists know about all the venues in Florida and how we package them," Welter said.

Market research will be used to develop a long-term strategy.

Visit Florida has worked with other agencies in the past, but this is the first campaign to address the rare occurrence of four hurricanes in a short period, Welter noted.

Banks noted that CKPR has a "robust" travel/tourism practice, with clients including Hyatt Hotels and AirTran Airways.

CKPR was selected from among four firms. Fleishman-Hillard, Lou Hammond, and Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell also received the RFP.

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