The South Walton Tourist Development Council, or Visit South Walton, is tasked with promoting tourism to South Walton, an upscale destination of 16 beach neighborhoods along Northwest Florida’s Coast. Curley & Pynn worked with Visit South Walton to communicate the destination’s unique events, amenities and experiences via traditional and online media to encourage travel to the area.
Although several traditional news releases are planned throughout the year to promote seasonal events and other niche topics, there was not a formal tool in place by which to communicate with media on a more frequent basis. Regular communication with bed-tax collectors and other tourism partners showed that there was a wealth of information that could serve as story ideas, but which were not strong enough on their own to serve as the subject of individual news releases. Discussions with leading travel reporters also showed that many were interested in regular “story idea” updates.
The Strategic Firm® Approach
Curley & Pynn created and launched the “What’s New” eNewsletter to share regular, monthly updates and story ideas with journalists on behalf of Visit South Walton. The firm designs, develops content for and distributes the eNewsletter on a monthly basis to a list of more than 800 targeted travel and lifestyle journalists across the destination’s top 30 markets and nationally.
The highly visual eNewsletter has been designed to cut through the clutter and engage journalists, while communicating key messages from South Walton. The eNewsletter contains short summaries of immediate story ideas with links to additional information on the Visit South Walton and partner websites, a listing of upcoming events taking place in South Walton and one or two future story ideas for journalists working on a longer lead time.
As intended, the eNewsletter sustained a regular touch point with key reporters and resulted in a number of media responses and story inquiries, from outlets including Garden & Gun, Parenting magazine, Modern Luxury, Birmingham News, West Coast Woman, Dallas Voice, VISIT FLORIDA bloggers and a number of freelance journalists. It also helped drive traffic to the Visit South Walton website and partner bed-tax collector websites through direct clicks.
As well, the eNewsletter opened conversations that led to future one-on-one deskside appointments with journalists, press trip inquiries and future proactive story outreach from the journalists on the distribution list. Several journalists, including the vice president of editorial for Modern Luxury and freelance journalist Apryl Chapman Thomas, replied to the monthly eNewsletter to state that they found the content helpful and to thank Curley & Pynn for sharing the regular updates from South Walton.