Extra Credit Blog
Can you use a natural disaster for your public relations campaign?
Visit Florida, the organization responsible for driving tourism business to Florida, tried to bring some sunshine in after a blizzard hit the Northeast.
Last week DC and the surrounding areas was hit with one of the worst winter storms in 300 years. As residents were digging out from under several feet of snow, the Florida Department of Transportation offered a lending hand. They sent up dump trucks to help clear snow in the Capitol.
Supporting those in need, whether you are a government entity, nonprofit, or corporation, can be a great public relations opportunity. Not only is it good to lend a helping hand, but it can have a positive impact on your key publics, who in turn spread positive messages about you.
But, sending dump trucks alone would most likely not generate that much buzz. So, the Florida Department of Transportation and Visit Florida partnered to make the most out of this activity by creating special signs on the dump trucks heading north.
The signs on the trucks featured a fun message with a snowman hitching a ride to Florida and the headline “Sharing the Sunshine.” This is a great example of how an organization can take advantage of a news event to get noticed by key publics and generate some earned media.
If the trucks did not feature the special graphics, then most likely very few people would have heard about the help provided. Instead, it generated local and national media coverage as stories spread about the cleanup efforts. Over 50 news articles appear when you do a Google News search for “visit Florida dump trucks.” Images of the trucks taken by individuals are posted on social media.
Watching trends and news is an important part of public relations. While you should have plans and strategies always in place, you also need to plan for news events and happenings. The “Sharing the Sunshine” campaign is just that. I assume they had graphics and images ready to go before the storm hit. It’s winter time, a snowstorm was going to happen. So, when the timing was right, they could quickly implement their plan.
How do you feel about using natural disaster assistance to promote tourism? Is it fun and appropriate or does it cross the line into bad taste?