To celebrate 60 years of flying high, the United States Parachute Association (USPA) teamed up with JWalcher Communications to give tri-state area media a chance to experience skydiving, a sport enjoyed by 300,000 Americans each year.
The USPA designated 2006 as the year of the skydiver in hopes of making skydiving a more mainstream sport.
"The goal was to try to build the sport of skydiving," says Jean Walcher, president of JWalcher Communications. "The numbers for the sport are declining, and the athletes are aging." JWalcher worked to help the USPA make the sport look more attractive to younger thrillseekers, emphasizing its safety and affordability. "It's safer to skydive than it is to drive your car to work," Walcher adds.
JWalcher invited local New York and New Jersey media to host USPA-member drop zone Skydive Sussex in Sussex, NJ, to attend a day of skydiving presentations, culminating in a tandem jump for all. "We find that the best stories come from personal accounts of journalists going up in the plane," notes Walcher. The media reporters learned about the new innovations in skydiving equipment and got to hear from experts about the safety and thrill of the sport.
USPA and Skydive Sussex saw an increase in phone activity and tandem skydive bookings. The week segments ran on the local Fox affiliate, increased phone calls to the drop zone required the owner to hire another person to answer calls and to add two phone lines. Usually Skydive Sussex does about 2,400 tandems a year - it's now at more than 3,000 this year.
JWalcher is contracted to work with the USPA on national placements through the end of the year and hopes to renew the contract for 2007.
PR team: United States Parachute Association (Fredericksburg, VA) and JWalcher Communications (San Diego)
Campaign: 60th Anniversary of the USPA
Duration: July 10
Budget: Approximately $15,000