NEW ORLEANS: Louisiana's tourism organization recently launched a campaign called “Reel Louisiana,” a user-generated effort that it hopes will counter the negative impact on tourism inflicted by the BP oil spill.
To correct misperceptions about the status of the state's attractions, such as seafood, outdoor activities, and eco-tourism, the team, including its PR agency Deveney Communications, is working with local businesses to encourage visitors and residents to post live videos and images of their personal experiences on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking platforms.
Jim Hutchinson, assistant secretary of tourism at the state's Office of Tourism, explained that despite the fact that Louisiana is not a beach-oriented destination, and 98% of what a person would come to Louisiana for wasn't affected by the oil spill, 26-29% of people planning to visit the state postponed or canceled their trips.
“We don't have the ability to bomb the world with paid advertising to counter those misperceptions, so we felt that the social networking capabilities would be a great way to get the word out that Louisiana is doing fine.”
He noted that of the $15 million that BP gave the state to try to mitigate the effects of the spill, the organization is currently using about $2 million on tourism advertising and PR, including this campaign. The state allocated $5 million to the organization, $5 million to New Orleans, and $5 million to a coastal coalition of the parishes that have been most affected.
For this campaign, the team was inspired by research showing that consumers who have questions related to life-threatening health issues lend as much credibility to anonymous online sources as they do to certified authorities, explained John Deveney, president of the agency.
“If research tells us that user-generated content carries great credibility and can save the day, we need to make sure it's a significant portion of the campaign,” he said.
Tactics include radio, social media promotion, and partnerships with other organizations such as convention and visitor bureaus, hotels, and restaurants.