A team of RV industry marketing professionals reported how the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) public relations efforts are helping boost awareness of RV travel and camping among consumers at “Outlook 2015: Good Things Ahead,” the kickoff event to the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
In a presentation titled “Ready to Roll,” RVIA Public Relations Committee Chairman Chad Reece, Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) President Phil Ingrassia and RVIA Vice President of Communications and Marketing James Ashurst discussed how public relations efforts are employing a number of strategies to promote RVing to the media and key consumer audiences at the national, regional and local level.
“What we do in the public relations arena is a core mission for RVIA, and it’s vital to our industry’s future,” said Ashurst. “The steady stream of RVs in the media makes our product familiar to consumers and delivers the message that RVing is an affordable, flexible and family-friendly way to travel.”
He added that these efforts have resulted in an avalanche of positive media coverage this year on national TV programming, in major newspapers and in highly-trafficked websites and blogs before rolling a video compilation that showcased edited clips of recent national broadcast coverage, including hits on Fox News, Home & Garden TV, CNBC and Bloomberg TV.
Reece reported that public relations initiatives have played a key role in the industry’s resurgence from the Great Recession. “We have invested in telling the media and the public about our industry’s products and the lifestyle they make possible,” he said. “We’ve corrected erroneous perceptions about RVing and positioned the industry as growing, vibrant and innovative. RVs are viewed positively by most Americans, and that’s something that doesn’t just happen by good fortune.”
He said that in addition to the work with the national media, RVIA’s long-standing RV spokesperson tours have effectively put a friendly face on RV travel and positionied RVing as easier and less expensive than people may think.
Reece reported that this year’s spokesperson outreach included veteran RVIA spokespeople Brad and Amy Herzog, who have written several books about RV travel and have conducted 14 RV-themed media tours; Dwier Brown, a long-time RV owner and actor who went on a book tour in a motorhome to promote the book he wrote about his role as Kevin Costner’s father in “Field of Dreams” to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the film; and former NFL All-Pro and RV enthusiast Matt Light, who was featured in an RVIA-produced satellite media tour from the Hershey RV Show promoting RV travel and tailgating.
All total, the spokesperson media tours this year produced 47 interviews that were broadcast more than 350 times in 200 media markets and reached a total audience of more than 50 million.
Ingrassia wrapped up the presentation by focusing on the success RVIA and RVDA have had in working together to generate coverage in local media markets.
“Through the combined effort of our two associations, we have promoted RV shows around the country, provided media loans that have resulted in scores of positive stories, and created a media outreach that promotes RVing and the local dealer that sells the products,” said Ingrassia.
He explained further that the idea is to create ‘events’ centered around the RV show season, summer camping or RV tailgating for local TV news shows around the country. A dealer provides an RV or two, fires up a grill and stages a campground or tailgate scene for the cameras.
“The dealer is interviewed and delivers key message points about RVing. Just as importantly, viewers are told to visit the dealership for more information. It’s an innovative, low-cost effort that has a significant payoff,” said Ingrassia before introducing a video that showed examples of the type of coverage generated by the effort.