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Star Your Customers in a Media Tour

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Shining a spotlight on happy customers is a terrific media relations tool.

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Shining a spotlight on happy customers is a terrific media relations tool. For Winnebago, partnering with the fascinating Holcombe family on a media tour is not only promoting the Winnebago View motorhome, it’s updating the public image of Winnebago owners.

Peter and Kathy Holcombe sold their Colorado home in June 2014 and hit the road full-time with 12-year-old daughter Abby to hike, bike, and kayak across all 59 National Parks. They personify the fastest-growing group of RV owners, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association: Outdoor enthusiasts 35-55 who value family time and often have a flexible profession, like Peter’s photography business.

Recognizing an opportunity to disrupt stereotypes, Winnebago asked DKY to pitch the Holcombe’s story along their travel route. Midway through a three-month tour, we’re sharing the earned placements that appear throughout this post, and providing a few tips for your next remotely-guided media tour.

 

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Target your pitches.

The Holcombes stop in a different locale each week, so we couldn’t function without a searchable database of feature reporters and outdoor editors. Thanks to quick, targeted lists—and a local destination angle in each market—we’ve been able to turn coverage during three-day whistle stops. If your story is geo-targeted or urgent, be sure to work with a firm that’s invested in a PR tool like Cision or Meltwater.

Make coverage easy.

Gone are snail-mailed media packets. Once editors respond to a brief, deadline-based pitch (Subject: “Mon.-Wed.: Fascinating Family in Bend, OR”), we connect them directly with the Holcombes to schedule interviews and shoots. At that point, we email the reporter fact sheets and a DropBox link to the family’s best high-resolution photos and video footage. Downloading and incorporating these assets, even small-market media have produced stunning features.

 

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Keep it authentic.

Knowing media get spooked by commercial intent, we’re not putting the Holcombes in Winnebago apparel or micro-managing their soundbites. Instead, we’re letting their story pull visitors to Famagogo.com, the Holcombes’ blog (which stars their Winnebago); or to WinnebagoLife.com, an inspiring community of Winnebago owners spanning every demographic. Let your fans evangelize by getting out of the way.

 

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Be measurement realists.

Impressions alone can’t measure the value of news coverage. Value is also qualitative: Are we increasing awareness and amplifying the brand? Or they’re behavior-based: Are we boosting engagement? By both measures, the Holcombe campaign is working. In the first month:

  • Six major stories in four markets have positively mentioned or pictured the Winnebago logo, model, or name 15 times.
  • Social posts on media websites have engaged thousands of people—7,800 Facebook views and 80 shares in Bend, Ore. and 1,200 views in Little Rock, Ark.
  • Driving web traffic? We’re adding a new component to this end. Our plan is to offer a practical e-book to introduce new RVers to the RV lifestyle.

A compelling or disruptive customer story—especially a traveling road show—can be a dream media relations opportunity. Get rolling: Geo-target your media, make story development easy, keep it real, and evaluate sentiment and engagement, not just reach.

 

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