Leveraging P.R. Events to Get Media Attention

(Originally posted September 24, 2009)

The next time you plan a media event to promote your product or client, you may want to take a look at what the Hawaii Visitor and Convention Bureau (HVCB) and their public relations agency McNeil Wilson cooked up in Los Angeles earlier this month. Not only did they create an event for the media to experience a taste of Hawaii on the Mainland, they also leveraged this event to generate television news exposure on three Honolulu TV stations. How did they do it?

First, the HVCB & McNeil Wilson created an exceptional event that had great visual elements. It’s no secret that L.A. is a vital market for Hawaii tourism and the HVCB created a VIP Reception to launch there “A Thousand Reasons to Smile” campaign in Los Angeles so that the media could experience the Spirit of Aloha first hand from the moment they entered the second floor of the W Hotel. Journalists received an authentic lei greeting and as the evening got underway, they were given a traditional Hawaiian blessing performed by cultural specialist Celine Pi‘ilani Nelsen on the W’s version of a lanai – their second floor terrace.

Elizabeth Harryman, Travel Editor of Westways Magazine commented that, “It’s very helpful when the islands come to us so to speak so they can tell us what’s going on in the islands and we can tell our readers.”

Media attendees got to dig deeper into the destination through “talk story” sessions led by local culinary expert and author, Joan Namkoong, and Grammy winning slack key guitarist, George Kahumoku, that gave background on the Islands unique food and music and set the tone for the 7-course Hawaiian inspired menu created by Chef John Matsubara of The Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The evening came to a Hawaiian style crescendo as the four mayors of Hawaii came together for an unprecedented media moment and serenaded the journalists with a traditional Hawaiian song and had everyone join in.

Second, the HVCB & McNeil Wilson created a plan to insure that the priceless moments of the four mayors of Hawaii were captured on video and delivered directly to the news stations they wanted to target. The HVCB could have just hosted the event, entertained journalists, and left it at that, but they decided to hire a broadcast public relations company, CMP Media Café, to capture the night on video, edit a b-roll package of highlights including soundbites with the Mayors, journalists and the HVCB, and coordinate the delivery of the b-roll to Honolulu via an early morning flight. This assured the video would arrive in time to make the 6 o’clock news less than 24 hours after the event wrapped at the W Hotel. They knew they had something special and it paid off to put the footage directly in the hands of the local network affiliates. Three of the four Honolulu stations that received the footage did not just air the story once, but multiple times. These airings on KGMB-CBS, KHON-FOX, and KITV-ABC collected 405,353 consumer impressions and created a lot of goodwill for the HVCB with Hawaii residents to know the efforts being made to drive tourism to their local economy.

Finally, the “money shot” of the evening for Hawaii residents and local Honolulu TV stations alike was not just having the four mayors of Hawaii in one event and coming together to promote Hawaii as a vacation destination, but actually serenading the journalists with a traditional Hawaiian song. This shot was the lead shot in most of the news stories.

Peace and coconuts,

Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Copyright (c) 2009. CMP Media Cafe. All Rights Reserved.

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