Hey everyone– Cory here. While the author of this blog is our very own media event planning extraordinaire, Katie Richter, I felt compelled to add a prologue. Simply put– Katie and the Old Town staff aren’t ones to brag, letting their work speak for itself. What Katie has tastefully omitted in her blog is just how much time and work she put into this experience. So, I’m going to play hype-man for Katie and the Old Town crew: their energy, organization, and decisiveness in planning and orchestrating this event was incredibly impressive.
There’s one quote from the event that sums up their attention to detail so perfectly: upon returning from the campsite outhouse an attendee exclaimed, “Have you seen the toilet? It’s like Better Home and Gardens in there.” Rest assured, no detail goes unplanned when Darby Comm is orchestrating a media event. Anyways– without further ado, let’s dive into Katie’s words.
Maine is having a well-deserved moment. As its nickname suggests, ‘Vacationland’ offers an incredible array of outdoor activities and natural beauty. One such gem is the Penobscot River. New England’s second-largest river system has been home to Old Town since 1898. Over the past century, both Old Town and its proverbial home, have changed and evolved–often in tandem. This shared history allowed us to pitch, plan, and orchestrate a media event that provided context and on-water experience on this landscape and highlight its importance to the brand.
Every media event is different depending on scope, goals, and timing. However, certain takeaways ring true no matter the experience!
On day one, five media arrived in Bangor ready to embark on a two-day 25-mile paddling trip with drybags, fly rods, cameras, and story angles in tow. Loaded up and ready to paddle, our crew pushed off from the Passadumkeag put-in, paddling iconic green and red Old Town Discovery canoes. We took our time and followed our guide and Penobscot Nation’s Historian, James Francis, downstream along the Penobscot River Paddling Trail.
Over the next few days, we visited Sugar Island, home to a cultural exhibition of a traditional Wabanaki village, observed the crafting of a birch-bark canoe, fished for smallmouth bass, joined in a traditional Maine lobster bake, camped at Riverbilly’s Retreat, swam in the sunkissed water, and toured the state-of-the-art Old Town manufacturing facility.
Takeaway #1: Communicate expectations and set journalists up for success at your media event
It’s easy to get excited when pitching a media trip to prospective attendees. Nothing feels better than an eager “YES, I’M IN” right away after explaining a trip you’ve spent months developing. However, if you haven’t dipped your toes into the “expectations” discussion you’re likely diving headfirst into murky water.
First, clearly communicate brand expectations as you discuss trip details. This is not the same as demanding coverage….it’s called earned media for a reason. But, a frank discussion on which angles interest them most and what they’ll need from this trip on the editorial side of things should help determine if it’s a great fit for both parties.
Second, it’s important to curate the media attendee list to ensure there’s no substantial overlap in outlets, audience, and story angles. Attendees should complement each other, not compete. Nothing ruins an experience more than an underlying air of competition, and ultimately it provides a disservice to attendees.
Takaway #2: Media events can be exciting, adventurous, and EPIC…but don’t forget to bring a little comfort into the experience.
Media trips are memorable. And, in the outdoor industry, “memorable” can often lead to some pretty incredible experiences and destinations. The Darby Comm crew has hiked on glaciers in Iceland, paddled bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico, and fished for tarpon in Florida, but after a long day(s) of travel and adventure a little comfort goes a long way. Small well-thought-out details add up to a smoother, more enjoyable experience.
It was superbly planned and the group was well-curated. Float trips require a lot of logistical forethought, and it seemed pretty seamless from my end. You could tell everyone was happy since they all opted to come to hang out at the bar after the trip was technically over.Happy Media Attendee from the Old Town Penobscot River Media Event
The Penobscot River Paddling Trail offers a network of camping sites along a beautiful 100-mile stretch of river. These sites are provided and maintained by private landowners and come in various shapes, sizes, and conditions. We connected with charismatic lifelong Mainer, Peter Crockett, who hosted us at Riverbilly’s Campsite. A great place to camp, we arrived early to add a few extra comforts before the media arrived to provide a sense of home for the night and ensure they could relax with ease after a long day on the river. Additionally, Peter’s generous hospitality and outstanding lobster bake made for a Maine evening to remember.
Takeaway #3: Always stay connected to the core of the brand story
Curating a media event that offers various story angles is a key component to encouraging prompt positive coverage. However, each angle needs to connect back to the common brand story that’s winding throughout the experience, ultimately adding to the brand narrative.
We packed in a lot within two days on the river, offering experiences that lent themselves to great destination stories, conservation success pieces, historical chronicles on the cultural and biological importance of the Penobscot River, and stand-alone gear reviews. However, all of these experiences connected back to Old Town’s brand narrative.
It’s impossible to separate the Penobscot River and Maine from Old Town. The sense of place has shaped the brand throughout the last century and will continue to do so for generations. Inspired by the Penobscot watercrafts, Old Town crafted its first wood and canvas canoe some 123-years ago and today its Sportsman Line reflects the continued push towards innovation while honoring the boat-building legacy that shaped its journey. In fact, no new boat design is brought to market without first touching the waters of the Penobscot River.
Do you have a product launch coming up that needs the extra special touch of an intimate media event to really expand upon the story and the product? Perhaps you’re just interested in how media events can help to support your marketing plan. Either way, our team is skilled at helping brands develop a media event strategy to support their marketing goals and guaranteeing success through well-thought-out and impactful events. You can learn more about our media event services HERE or contact us for more info on how we can support your brand’s marketing initiatives.