Another aspect of tourism PR: amusement parks

Following up on Jaimy Lee's article on tourism campaigns, I spoke to a couple PR professionals at amusement parks and they had some interesting...

Following up on Jaimy Lee's article on tourism campaigns, I spoke to a couple PR professionals at amusement parks and they had some interesting things to say about getting people out and visiting their parks this summer. Some comments after the jump.

Cedar Point, in Sandusky, Ohio, launched a page on its Web site offering visitors discounts and deals to come to the park. "We know money's tight, so here is what Cedar Point is doing to help offset that," said Bryan Edwards, the PR manager at the amusement park. Another PR goal for the park this year was to get the word out to families that there are a lot of activities for families and small children, other than the roller coasters, Edwards said. The PR team typically reaches out to local markets, in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, but with families more willing to take a drive rather than fly, the PR team is branching out to markets including Chicago, Toronto, and Baltimore.

Likewise, Hershey Park in Hershey, PA, has a lot of markets to reach out to, and it isn't really a "fly destination," said Mindy Bianca, PR director for Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, the parent company of Hershey Park. With more than 60 million people within about three hours distance of the park, including New York and Washington, D.C., "we are geographically blessed," she told PRWeek. "If people are staying close to home, then we're close to a lot of homes."

But that isn't enough to pique people's interest. Hershey uses the launch of new attractions to build buzz every year. "Our formula is to announce new attractions the summer before," Bianca said. "We do a press event in the park and then we let the media walk away that day with the basic information and schematics and artist's rendering. It's our job from that moment to spread the word any way we know how." This year's new attraction is the Fahrenheit, the 11th roller coaster for the park.

But Bianca explained that new attractions aren't the only way to get the media and public talking about a park. She said stories can focus on the rides, entertainment, food, and even the people behind the scenes at the park. "There is always a story to tell, even if it's not opening a new attraction," she said. "It's all about knowing the media."

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