Hard Rock Park tames the crowd

Part of the Hard Rock International brand, Hard Rock Park (HRP) is the world's first rock 'n' roll theme park. Weber Shandwick and fellow IPG agency Rogers & Cowan (R&C) were tapped to help with the grand opening, held June 2 and 3 in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Part of the Hard Rock International brand, Hard Rock Park (HRP) is the world's first rock ‘n' roll theme park. Weber Shandwick and fellow IPG agency Rogers & Cowan (R&C) were tapped to help with the grand opening, held June 2 and 3 in Myrtle Beach, SC.

The firms were tasked to bill the park as a not-to-be-missed destination, and secure one national broadcast hit and one national music/entertainment placement. R&C, which has long represented rock bands, including some featured at the park, handled music/entertainment media.

Strategy
The idea was to generate buzz in top-tier national, music/entertainment, and travel media, both before and during the grand opening.

Sara Joseph, VP in the travel and lifestyle practice at WS, says to keep media informed, reporters were given updates about the park months prior to the opening. The team later invited media to attend the grand opening to experience the park with the general public. Coverage in top-tier national broadcast media showed off the park to a wide audience.

“Every major rock ‘n' roll band... is encompassed at the park, so it's important to tell that story,” adds Lauren Ceradini, account supervisor at R&C.

Tactics

Joseph says press releases and calls touted attractions and kept reporters informed before the opening.

A press trip from May 2 to 5 gave about 15 major media outlets from across sectors a chance to see the park before it opened. Good Morning America Weekend and Premiere Radio Networks were live on site for the grand opening, and MTV News sent host Sway to tour the park with Steven Goodwin, CEO of HRP. Fox National News conducted a satellite interview, and a b-roll package was sent to regional and national media, news feeds, and network affiliates.

Results

More than 7,500 attended the opening (the venue's limit for the event configuration). Nearly 450 stories ran in national and international outlets like USA Today, London Times, Family Circle, and The New York Times. TV coverage included more than 722 segments.

Online coverage included 407 stories (29 million unique views) on sites such as Chicagotribune.com, SmartTraveler.com, and CNN.com.

“We converted people who were skeptical of the idea into raving fans,” Goodwin says.

Future

Both agencies will continue to work on promoting the park. HRP has a 10,000-seat amphitheater and will begin outreach for routing tours, Joseph says.

R&C will work with HRP on promoting the venue and music artists who will perform, she adds.

PRWeek View
Being the first of its kind, there was nothing to compare HRP to before the grand opening. Though not all reporters fully grasped the concept, it was still wise to communicate with them regularly prior to the opening to pique interest.

Certainly, firsthand experience was key to coverage, and securing national shows ensured large numbers of people saw the park. This team really covered all audience bases, and it seems wise to continue broad outreach going forward.

PR team: Hard Rock Park (Myrtle Beach, SC), Weber Shandwick (New York), and Rogers & Cowan (New York)

Campaign: Hard Rock Park Grand Opening

Duration: April-June 2008

Budget: $60,000-$90,000

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