Originally published by the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, by Vicki Hillhouse, January 17,
How best to leverage digital media wasn’t just a timely topic for attendees at Visit Walla Walla’s annual meeting Thursday
It’s also been an ongoing endeavor for the destination marketing organization that had one of its best years for media exposure in 2018.
Creating content that takes followers behind the scenes of business is key to engaging customers in a social media landscape that is far beyond collecting “likes,” said Will Gryna, senior digital strategist for marketing firm DVA Advertising & Public Relations.
Gryna told the standing room only crowd gathered at Reid Campus Center at Whitman College to think of what they would like to see from business when planning their own digital content.
How-to’s, offers and unique stories were among the suggestions for content development at a time when engagement is more important than ever in translating to investment.
The presentation comes just a little over a month after Visit Walla Walla rolled out a new website that includes a direct-booking feature for lodging.
Visitors who land on the site no longer have to book their lodging through a separate search, Visit Walla Walla CEO Ron Williams explained.
The feature helps streamline the marketing service that ties in things to see and do, and now where to stay when you’re catching it all.
Visit Walla Walla, he said, does not get a cut for the service, but does potentially get the benefit of keeping visitors to the site on its platform a bit longer.
More attention for the town is the overall mission of the marketing organization. Its annual report included a breakdown of marketing recaps from public relations, print and digital exposure, plus traction and resulting impressions and clicks from the agency’s array of Facebook campaigns.
Outgoing board President Chris Garratt said the organization had about $1.6 million in what is known in the industry as “earned media.” That means attention from editorial coverage that wasn’t purchased.
In what he characterized as a “fantastic year for media,” stories in a regional, national and international platform brought attention to the community from all over the globe.
That includes April coverage in fashion magazine Vogue, which captured about 6.6 million eyeballs, Garratt said. After that, Sunset named Walla Walla the best wine region.
A wine bloggers conference last fall brought 222 writers to town and has so far resulted in at least 209 posts.
How to translate that into more weekday group and conference visits will be the focus of 2019, tourism officials said.
In an effort to remind Central Oregonians that one of the best and most relaxing winter travel destinations is in fact only a 20-minute drive away, Brasada Ranch has hired DVA to concept and produce a campaign encouraging locals to look no further than their own backyard for their next “staycation.” As part of the effort, DVA will also implement a public relations campaign targeting local media outlets and residents.
“Too often, locals feel the need to travel to the Oregon Coast, Portland, or other regional destinations to escape their day-to-day routine for a few days or a weekend,” said Justin Yax, partner and public relations director at DVA. “We’re using this campaign as a way to remind them that you don’t have to travel 3-5 hours by car to find that escape. It’s right here, only 20 minutes away, at Brasada Ranch.”
After receiving a record number of proposal submissions from potential presenters, DMA West has chosen DVA to serve as a featured presenter at their 2019 Tech Summit, held March 20-22 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“Results, Accountability, and the Demise of Vanity Metrics” will be the topic of senior digital strategist Will Gryna’s presentation. As DMOs search for new and better ways to monetize results and metrics, and demonstrate real ROI to members and stakeholders, traditional “vanity” metrics such as site traffic continue to decline in importance.
Gryna will touch on a number of topics relevant to metrics and reporting, including:
- Unique tracking challenges DMOs face
- The cost of incomplete tracking
- What complete tracking looks like
- Business outcomes of complete tracking
- Capturing best audiences
- Reporting on the most meaningful KPIs
DMA West is a regional membership organization comprised of more than 145 DMOs, and their annual Tech Summit, which focuses on digital and technology strategies for destination marketers, is one of their most widely attended events of the year.
Heading into its 60th anniversary season, Mt. Bachelor – North America’s fifth largest ski resort and the largest ski resort in Oregon – has partnered with DVA to help the resort strengthen its connection with the local market, position it among the country’s top ski destinations, and to attract skiers and snowboarders from major markets across the West and beyond.
DVA was hired largely due to its expertise in marketing resorts and destinations, its experience marketing Mt. Bachelor over the years including the resort’s 50th anniversary season, and its relationships and experience working with travel and ski industry media.
In addition to concepting and producing creative campaigns for everything from brand awareness to season pass sales, DVA is also managing the digital strategy and implementing national public relations effort focusing on media visits from high profile travel and ski writers.
“It’s no secret that the winter months are historically the slowest of the year in terms of visitor numbers for Central Oregon, but at the same time the winter product – mainly alpine and Nordic skiing – is one of the best,” said DVA brand strategist Troy Kerr. “With summer occupancy running at or near capacity, there’s an opportunity to generate awareness and interest, and to shift some of that demand to the winter and spring months when Mt. Bachelor can be enjoyed from Thanksgiving through Memorial Day.”
Explore Whitefish Selects DVA Following Lengthy Search; New ‘Wander’ Campaign Set To Launch in Key Markets Throughout the U.S. and Canada
(BEND, Ore.)—DVA Advertising & Public Relations, a Bend-based advertising and public relations agency that specializes in marketing leisure travel destinations throughout the West, has been chosen by Explore Whitefish to develop a new destination marketing campaign for the popular Montana resort town. DVA was awarded the contract following a lengthy review and selection process that included DVA as the only out-of-state agency among five finalists.
“Whitefish is an authentic and iconic mountain town of the West, the gateway to Glacier National Park, and a charming community with an abundance of marketable assets,” said Mary Angelo, partner and director of client services at DVA. “It’s a great complement to the other destinations we represent throughout Washington, Oregon, California, and now Montana, and we’re looking forward to helping Whitefish further solidify its reputation as a year-round playground for everyone from thrill-seekers to sightseers.”
In developing Whitefish’s 2018-2019 advertising campaign, which needed to position the destination “at the heart of adventure” while inspiring potential visitors to experience “the wonder of it all,” the DVA team developed numerous conceptual directions before eventually arriving at a ‘less is more’ approach.
The resulting headline driven campaign, titled simply “Wander,” was intended to quickly and effectively accomplish both tasks with its striking headline and evocative imagery. The campaign was concepted by DVA partner and creative director Gary Fulkerson, as well as senior art director Ryan Crotty. Fulkerson was the lead copywriter on the project, while Crotty was responsible for design and layout, and Mary Angelo provided account management.
“How do you communicate such an abundance of qualities and attributes, and convey them to an audience in a way that stands out from the competition, captivates them, and inspires them to learn more?” asked Fulkerson. “Sometimes you just have to strip a destination down to its most basic truth, and call to something inside people that speaks to their soul.”
The campaign will be rolled out in print, digital, and outdoor advertising throughout the U.S. and Canada ahead of the 2018-19 winter season. Additional executions will be developed to promote the spring and fall seasons, and the campaign look and feel will be adapted to other marketing tools including but not limited to the official Whitefish visitor guide, website, social media, maps, brochures, and other materials.
“Whitefish will only benefit from the outside perspective of a firm with a reputation for successfully marketing and promoting destinations that share similar opportunities and challenges to ours,” said Dylan Boyle, executive director of Explore Whitefish. “At the end of the day, growth in visitation during key times of year will be our biggest indicator of success, and we believe DVA is the right strategic partner to help us get there.”
About DVA Advertising & Public Relations
Founded in 1990, DVA is a full-service, 13-person marketing agency based in Bend, Ore., that services clients throughout the West. Some of DVA’s current clients include Ballard Alliance, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Chambers Bay Golf Course, Doubleback Winery & Bledsoe Family Winery, Explore Whitefish, Riverhouse on the Deschutes, Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau, Visit Bend, Visit Leavenworth, Visit the Santa Ynez Valley, and Visit Walla Walla. For more information visit www.dvaadv.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 541-389-2411.
DVA senior digital strategist Will Gryna delivered the keynote address at the 2018 Visit Walla Walla Annual Conference, held January 16 on the Whitman College campus in Walla Walla. Gryna’s message focused on simple digital tactics for individual tourism industry stakeholders, whether hotels, restaurants, wineries, or other attractions.
Titled “Leveraging Digital for Business Results,” Gryna identified and discussed creative best practices, how small businesses can use their existing data to create the best audiences, and how to track and optimize data for business outcomes.
This is the second consecutive year DVA has delivered the keynote address at the Visit Walla Walla Annual Meeting. In 2018, agency partner and public relations director Justin Yax presented “The Power of PR – Take Their Word For It.” Yax’s presentation focused on successful tactics DVA has implemented on behalf of Visit Walla Walla, results and outcomes achieved, and how businesses could become involved in the public relations effort. A copy of that presentation can be viewed HERE.
Tour of Walla Walla, the bicycle stage race tradition of two decades, is back on track after cancellation last year.
More than 300 competitors are registered for this weekend’s races, which take place over three days, starting Friday.
Race coordinators Michael and Kathryn Austin got a boost with some assistance in marketing from Visit Walla Walla after last year’s race was sidelined from the devastatingly long winter and its effects on travel.
“Visit Walla Walla got involved with this as soon as it was canceled last year because we were so disappointed that an event that brings in so many people went to the wayside,” Visit Executive Director Ron Williams said.
With registrations in the past as high as 40, the 307 who had registered by late Wednesday morning was an encouraging sign of success, Williams said. About 300 registrations have been needed in previous years for a break-even event, which includes prize money for respective winners in their categories.
About 450 people are expected in town for the races, which include Saturday’s downtown Criterium and road closures through central portions of the neighborhood.
Williams said Visit Walla Walla marketing agency DVA Advertising & Public Relations helped with email marketing and paid social media advertising targeted toward cycling enthusiasts.
Visit also created a “landing” page to link participants with schedules, critical information and other activities of interest for those coming to support racers.
See the original story by Vicki Hillhouse in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin here.
The Outdoor Industry Association recently published a study we found very interesting.
“Investments in outdoor recreation on public lands and waters earn compounding returns in the form of healthier communities, healthier economies and healthier people.
More than 100 years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt foresaw the crossroads at which we now stand. He said, “The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets that it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.”
From our national parks to local green spaces, from alpine lakes to transcontinental rivers, America’s outdoor recreation assets are its citizens’ common trust. Our public lands and waterways belong to every American, and they are the backbone of our outdoor recreation economy. They hold the promise of prosperity and well-being. It is as much our responsibility to invest in them as it is our right to enjoy them.
From the smallest rural towns to the most densely packed cities, outdoor recreation powers a vast economic engine that creates billions in spending and millions of good-paying American jobs. Likewise, it is an underappreciated and underfunded weapon against crime, poor academic performance and rising health care costs.
We are fortunate to live in a nation of iconic natural beauty, inspiring landscapes and bountiful waters. Going outdoors to hike, bike, camp, fish, hunt or just walk around the neighborhood orients us to the natural world. In the outdoors, we come together with friends and family, make lasting memories and find solitude and contemplation. And a growing body of research shows that being outdoors delivers health benefits that are, in many cases, on par with pharmaceutical treatments.
By enjoying these places, we invest in our own well-being and affirm our shared history. In challenging times, when disagreements appear sharper and differences seem harder to bridge, it is the outdoors that reconnects us.”
Read the whole study here. *images and content from Outdoor Industry Association.