Like many industries, out-door recreation, which ranges from apparel to large recreational vehicles (RVs), is being negatively affected by the current economic turmoil. However, that situation isn't impacting media interest in the industry, says Mike Schneider, president and CEO of Affinity Group, publisher of dozens of print and online titles dedicated to RVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, and personal watercraft.
“The outdoor recreation community is, for the most part, driven by discretionary purchases,” he says. “But when people are passionate about a lifestyle, they don't give it up. So readership of our publications has remained solid for many years.”
Affinity's magazines and Web sites, including MotorHome, Trailer Life, and Woodall's Camping Life, as well as RV.net and RVSearch.com, are constantly tweaking editorial content to reflect trends, such as soaring energy costs, Schneider adds.
“Right now, we're doing [many] more stories on how [consumers can] expand the use of their RVs, even with gas prices, with features called ‘One-tank trips' that focus on shorter travel,” he adds.
Other portions of the outdoor recreation market are leveraging the issue of high gas prices for “stay-cation” stories, notes Chris Goddard, president of CGPR.
“We're getting a lot of requests from reporters looking for gear, gadgets, and apparel for families driving only 50 miles from home,” she says. “And while the outdoor enthusiast magazines are important, we're also continuing to appeal to [titles] like Ladies' Home Journal and Redbook, as well as all the gift guides.”
Frank Gilanelli, president of Barton-Gilanelli & Associates, which represents the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), emphasizes that outdoor recreation topics can be pitched to a broad range of titles.
“We've worked with the editors of Parents, Working Woman, and AARP The Magazine,” he adds. “We even reach sportswriters on tailgating stories.”
Thanks to features like big-screen plasma TVs and advanced navigation systems, high-end RVs can contain compelling visuals for potential outdoor-themed stories, says Kevin Broom, RVIA communications director.
“That means we can get on HGTV, as well as Versus and Today,” he says. “We've also been able to use people who've sold their homes and decided to live on the road full-time to pitch trend stories to Time, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.”
Successful pitches also emphasize the freedom of the outdoor lifestyle, adds Schneider.
“The one thing all our publications do is help promote the dream to people that an RV is the ultimate vehicle for whatever they want to do,” he says. “So while product coverage and reviews [will] be at the heart of any special-interest publication, we make sure we have plenty of travel and a lot of lifestyle.”
Pitching...outdoors and recreation
Personalize and localize any outdoor recreation pitch by working with clubs, manufacturers, and trade associations to feature people who can attest to the benefits of a product or lifestyle
The average RV owner is a 49-year-old family man, so tailor media outreach and pitch tone for that demographic
Look beyond the traditional outlets to reach clubs and online communities where enthusiasts talk about their favorite types of outdoor recreation