Palm Springs celebrates gay marriage with wedding event

When California's state Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, the City Council of Palm Springs sought to cement the desert community as the premiere wedding destination for both gay and straight marriage ceremonies.

When California's state Supreme Court legalized gay marriage earlier this spring, the City Council of Palm Springs sought to cement the desert community as the premiere wedding destination for both gay and straight marriage ceremonies.

Burke, Rix, Hines & Associates (BR&H) volunteered to generate buzz pro bono, and assist in creating a multiple-wedding event on June 18, the day after gay marriage was legalized.

Strategy
Steve Pougnet, mayor of Palm Springs, said the objective of the campaign was “in a very short period, to coordinate a strategy to encourage not just gay, but [also] straight couples to marry in Palm Springs.”

To drive awareness, BR&H created a Web site, MarriedInPalmSprings.com, which provided information about the city and a diverse listing of local businesses that are helpful when planning a wedding.

Tactics
To celebrate the day that gay marriage was legalized in California, the city hosted the Palm Springs Marriage Celebration, where several weddings were performed and catered gratis. Buzz was generated from the Web site.

Also, BR&H drew attention to the multiple marriage celebration by reaching out to national print, radio, and electronic media, particularly outlets focusing on travel and the LGBT community, according to Brian Rix, senior partner at BR&H.

Results
The Marriage Celebration wedded 52 couples, with more than 2,000 well-wishers in attendance, Rix says. Also, as of mid-September, the Web site has had approximately 800,000 hits, Pougnet says. “Palm Springs has had over 320 weddings to date of both gay and straight couples since the campaign started,” he adds.

Future
Palm Springs is building on this campaign, and the team will continue to update the Web site . “We hope many will come back,” Pougnet says.

PR team: Palm Springs City Council members and Burke, Rix, Hines & Associates (Palm Springs, CA)

Campaign: Married in Palm Springs

Duration: May 15-June 18, 2008

Budget: $500

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