Crider’s Corner – Feb 2018

So here we are in February and I’m wondering what you have planned in terms of press releases and photos to promote your park this year?
Remember, there’s a big difference between a Facebook post about your park versus a story in print or broadcast media.

With a Facebook post, most of the audience is people who have already been to your park and liked your Facebook page. So they naturally want to support you and keep up with what’s happening.

But how many new people are finding out about your park this way?

This is where traditional news media can be much more powerful. Park operators often tell me they are happy if they have a couple of thousand followers on Facebook. But a single story in Trailer Life magazine has a circulation of 425,000.  And those print stories are eventually posted online. Editor Valerie Law tells me that TrailerLife.com had 4,971,030 page views and 2,098,824 unique visitors in 2017.  That’s just Trailer Life.com.

Now imagine Motor Home magazine, FMCA Magazine, the Good Sam news blog, Snowbirds & RV Travelers, etc., not to mention your local and regional newspapers and TV stations, all of which also share their stories online.

My point is that if you want to grow your customer base, you need to have a diversified media strategy that includes not just advertising and Facebook or Instagram posts, but news releases and photos that you send out to generate coverage from local, regional and national news media, including publications that target camping and RV enthusiasts.

So if you haven’t written a press release yet and don’t have any ideas, consider these questions and how you could address them with a press release:

— Have you made major improvements to your WiFi system? TengoInternet tells me they are seeing a lot more parks investing in upgrades to their WiFi system. Have you upgraded your WiFi system? Do you have fiber optic lines for the first time? Do you have top of the line Ruckus equipment? Do you have another system you have installed that is meeting your guest expectations for the first time? If you’ve made major improvements to your WiFi system, why not write a press release about it?

— Do you have any new health oriented events? I just learned that Santee Lakes Recreation Reserve had its first ever 5K run late last year. Are you offering any new health oriented activities at your park this year for the first time? Why not write a press release about it. People want to improve their quality of life and live longer, particularly RVers. So why not tout your latest healthy activities?

Some parks tell me they have had great success by offering mini-farmers markets on certain days. Do you offer anything like this? There’s another news release.
At this time in Southern California, several RV parks have fruit trees and they allow their guests to pick fresh fruit during their stay. Why not write a press release about that and include photos of guests enjoying their fresh picked citrus at your park? You might score coverage with a great photo and a nice photo caption alone. Newspapers and magazines are always looking for great photos. Why not make 2018 the year you will provide the news media with great photos of your park?

— Are you adding a dog park or expanding an existing one? There’s another news release to produce with photos. Remember that CalARVC partners with DogTrekker.com, which will want to see this press release and photos, too. They have a listing of dog friendly parks. Is yours on their list?

— Are you expanding or reconfiguring your campsites? Record RV sales are causing a shortage of campsites during the busiest times of the year, particularly for pull through sites with full hookups. If you are redesigning some of your campsites to accommodate big rigs, why not write a press release about it and announce when those sites will be ready?

— Are you adding more park model RVs or cabin rentals? What about furnished safari tents or RV rentals? There’s another press release with photo opportunities. Let people know what kinds of improvements you are making and when you expect to have them completed. If you are installing new cabins, be sure to take lots of high quality interior and exterior photos. What’s even better is if you can take photos of people enjoying your cabins. Be sure, too, to take photos with a real camera, since photos taken with smart phones have a lower resolution and usually are not suitable for print publishing, even though they look great online.

Keep in mind, too, that when you write press release and take photos, you can also use much of this material on Facebook and Instagram and on your park’s website. So none of the time you spending writing press releases or taking photos will go to waste.

Just give it a little thought and start doing it. And if you have questions, shoot me an email at campinginfosource@gmail.com. Let me know what’s new at your park and we can brainstorm some ideas.

Who knows? You may have more newsworthy stories unfolding at your park than your realize.

Jeff Crider is CalARVC’s publicist