Who is your client? What are its media goals?
Lisa Ross: Costa Maya, located on [the south of] Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, was among the first ports designed exclusively for the cruise industry. The port was hit hard by Hurricane Dean in late 2007. Our strategy shifted to specifically target the cruise industry and general travel press, keeping them engaged during the recovery and then letting them know when the port was completely back to being a first-class destination.
What made USA Today ideal for Costa Maya? How did you pitch reporter Jayne Clark?
Ross: USA Today has a huge circulation and often skews toward travelers, making it a great target. We have a good relationship with USA Today's travel writers. And we knew that [Clark] was interested in how Hurricane Dean had damaged Costa Maya. So during the recovery, we opted to... keeping her continually abreast on what was going on and informing her of the new amenities added during the rebuilding.
Did you media train Costa Maya tourism officials for this piece? What other steps did you take to clinch this placement?
Ross: We did go over messaging on how port officials had worked with the Mexican government on the recovery. USA Today doesn't allow programmed media visits, but we encouraged [Clark] to visit Costa Maya on her own, and when she did, we shared ideas on hotels, restaurants, and other sites to visit during her stay.
What was the impact of the hit?
Ross: The front-page Life section feature included five photos of... recovered Costa Maya. That piece, combined with other placements, has played a key role in the port [recovering] 99% of its cruise line partners.
Name: Lisa Ross, president of rbb Public Relations (Miami)
Placement: USA Today, March 27
Pitch timeline: 18 months