Ocean City's issues-based effort catches DC interest

For years, the Ocean City, MD, Department of Tourism had wanted to increase the level of coverage it received within the Washington, DC, market.

For years, the Ocean City, MD, Department of Tourism had wanted to increase the level of coverage it received within the Washington, DC, market.

So along with MGH, its AOR, the department utilized a proactive media outreach campaign that would focus more on pitching the issues surrounding the popular beach resort's famous boardwalk than on the various attractions and restaurants it has come to be known for.

Strategy

Realizing that promoting the boardwalk, restaurants, and family-friendly entertainment would not get the coverage the department wanted in the DC area, the team decided to focus on the problems that accompany "Senior Week," when thousands of graduating high school seniors come to town. The problems include drunk driving and pedestrian accidents.

Tactics

To promote the town's Senior Week safety messaging, Mayor Rick Meehan embarked on a media tour in Washington, DC, that got coverage on the local CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliates, as well as news radio stations. MGH provided the media with suggested talking points in advance. Chris McMurry, MGH PR account manager, says getting messages out about the town's attractions is still a priority. "The best way to build a strong relationship... is to at first give [the media] what they are looking for, but also get good messaging out for the client at the same time," he says. "That was the ingenuity behind this concept."

Results

"It now has much more of an open door with the media in Washington, DC," says McMurry. "To be able to have the same level of relationship in DC as it does in Baltimore is really important [to it]." Media impressions for the tour approached 4 million.

Future

A media tour is set for DC in the fall to discuss serious topics, such as beach replenishment in preparation for hurricanes, and lighter topics about tourism.

PR team: Ocean City, MD, Department of Tourism (Ocean City, MD) and MGH (Baltimore)

Campaign: Ocean City Senior Week Safety campaign

Duration: May 25 to June 12, 2007

Budget: Less than $1,000

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