When promoting a tourism or economic development account from a public relations perspective, you must begin with a thorough analysis of the tourism assets you have at your disposal. The ultimate goal of this undertaking is to create a unique story of intrigue and atmosphere that leaves your potential visitor anxious to see the asset for themselves. But where do you begin?
The thorough analysis begins with, quite frankly, a crash-course in the education of your assigned area and what civic leaders have chosen to promote as their best assets in the past. The educational portion of this learning curve will involve intensive research on topics such as historical heritage sites, recreational options and promoting a continuous calendar of events and offerings for the general public.
As an example, when tasked with promoting tourism development for Richmond County, North Carolina, a definite challenge awaited. Known for decades as a twice-a-year stop on the powerhouse NASCAR circuit, the county had a built-in system that guaranteed tourism and visitation–until they no longer had that particular option. In 2005, big-time auto racing left Rockingham Speedway in the rear view mirror in favor of expanding its national reach beyond traditional southeastern roots. This created an enormous gap, leaving local officials scrambling to redefine themselves in the face on an uncertain future. To solve the problem, Richmond County looked inwardâ€”and found treasures every bit as worthy as the flashy race cars and dynamic personalities that once dominated their tourism landscape.
Take for instance the Hamlet Historic Depot and Museum, located in the southwest corner of Richmond County. It was built in 1900 by the former Seaboard Airline Railroad (now CSX Transportation). Rail fan studies showed that the building ranked as the most photographed train station in the eastern United States. While railroad history is prevalent throughout the United States, the city of Hamlet has an envious heritage by any standard.Â Dubbed the â€śHub of the Seaboardâ€ť, this town was once a vital crossroads for east coast travelers with a history as long as the tracks that surround it.Â With the proper public relations outreach programs, it didnâ€™t take long for Hamlet and its railroading past to catch the eye of publications like TRAINS Magazine, The Railway & Locomotive Historical Society and even a segment on the popular, â€śNorth Carolina Weekendâ€ť show.
The formula for this type of success can be replicated through careful research, a unique angle and sound public relations techniques. The story of Richmond County is a worthy example of measuring a challenge and overcoming adversity. And it could not have been achieved were it not for the critical analysis of what it had to offer potential visitors. Yes, it has a famous race track that may once again host NASCAR-sanctioned events. But itâ€™s also an Outdoorsmanâ€™s Paradise, a rail fanâ€™s dream vacation and a pretty good place to take a day trip or spend a weekend. But donâ€™t necessarily take our word for it. This is how it was described by Carolina Country Magazine. Have you taken a complete inventory of your public relations assets?
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