SIS Panel On Using Public Relations

How To Use PR To Maximize Exposure

On the second morning of the TransWorld Snow Industry Summit, a diverse panel of various PR professionals outlined the different roles of public relations from messaging to working with company spokespeople to media relations and crisis management, to a packed room of more than 60 attendees.

Cici Gordon, vice president of the nationally recognized consumer marketing communications agency Cone, Inc., started off the panel discussion by saying that PR is not simply media relations, but it’s how to relate to the public through various means including sponsored athletes, product placement, events, sponsorships, partnerships, and much more. It’s important for the PR department to relay clean, concise, consistent messages, she said.

She was followed by Samara Mormar, who’s the director of communications for Time4 Media and its seventeen consumer titles. Mormar pointed out that consumers believe what they read in the press, and it’s the PR manager’s job to help get a company’s message to the press. After a company has figured out what message it wants to get to the media, it has to pick a spokesperson for the company. The spokesperson can either be an internal staff member, such as a CEO, or an external spokesperson such as a sponsored athlete who can bring third-party credibility.

“When talking to the media, don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t’ know’, if you don’t have an answer for them,” says Kim Peterson, group communications director of Billabong, Element, and Von Zipper. It’s more important to maintain the trust and credibility of the press contacts instead of citing something that’s wrong she explained.

She also talked about using familiarization tours to help build relationships with media and inform them about your company. Billabong hosted a day at the Hamptons in New York and brought in a number of New York City media to expose them to the beach lifestyle.

In addition to that, she discussed the situation where Billabong-sponsored rider Tara Dakides had an accident on the David Letterman show, but turned it into more exposure for Dakides and the company. For effective media relations, she says it’s important to identify your company’s key messages, target audience, and come up with a distinct media list to spread the news.

Brad Farmer, public and industry relations director of Big Bear Mountain Resorts, discussed several different topics including moving beyond traditional media channels to broaden a company’s exposure. He cited Bear Mountain’s partnership with Microsoft and its Amped 2 snowboarding video game as offering incredible opportunity to expose consumers to the resort in non-traditional ways.

After several fires threatened the Big Bear area, Farmer also discussed managing a crisis situation and getting the media to run positive stories in the aftermath of the crisis. “You have to keep on message and keep communicating it to the media,” he says.

After the seminar, audience members said they appreciated the focus and content covered. “This reinforced some ideas I had, and gave me some great new ones,” says Eric Richter from Giro helmets.

“I took a lot of notes and will definitely use what I learned,” says Smith’s Liz Randall.

The TransWorld SNOW Industry Summit had gathered more than 300 executives from snowboard and ski manufacturers, retailers, and resorts to discuss issues facing the group. Produced by TransWorld SNOWboarding, with partners Mountain Sports Media and SIA, the SNOW Industry Summit was held April 1 to April 4, 2004.