PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Word travels quickly about the Azores

CONCORD, NH: On March 15, Jayme Simoes, president of NH-based PR firm Louis Karno & Company Communications, had a scheduled flight to Portugal's Azores islands to discuss a possible contract with the SATA Group, the airline that connects the archipelago to the US.

CONCORD, NH: On March 15, Jayme Simoes, president of NH-based PR firm Louis Karno & Company Communications, had a scheduled flight to Portugal's Azores islands to discuss a possible contract with the SATA Group, the airline that connects the archipelago to the US.

That trip was postponed, however, but ironically not for the reasons many might assume. For those folks living under a rock, on March 16 the Azores became the meeting point for the key members of President Bush's "coalition of the willing." A summit between Bush and the Prime Ministers of Britain, Spain, and Portugal convened on one of the islands to discuss how to proceed with the forced disarmament and ousting of Saddam Hussein without UN backing. Recognizing a unique media opportunity for the tiny collection of islands off the Iberian peninsula, and by extension SATA, Simoes offered his expertise on the area to journalists. He sent them background and tourist information that he had prepared for his own trip. "I heard that the President was going to Portugal," Simoes said. "I then got permission from SATA to do some media relations on spec." On Monday, March 17, Simoes sent a pitch to a list of 400 travel journalists describing the islands as "a wild and romantic destination that until yesterday remained undiscovered." As of Tuesday afternoon, he had heard back from 65 journalists, proving the value of timing in media relations, and making it a worthy PR Play of the Week. "I'd pitched The Philadelphia Inquirer travel editor several times before, and he never called back," he said. "When I came in this morning, I had a message from him." Other responses came from the Chicago Tribune and Travel+Leisure. "I'm hoping that this information will help nail the account down and move forward," said Simoes. "We don't want to take advantage of bad news, but to take advantage of a spotlight put on the destination."

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