For many theme parks Spring is a dormant time of year when the worst of the weather passes. But all should not be quiet in your marketing and PR departments. Spring is a great time to jumpstart many activities that will pay off in the busy season.
Here are 12 activities you can start now to prepare your park for peak season.
1. Map Out Your “Big Announcements” and stories for the Year
Do you have a fantastic summer music lineup you’ll need to promote? How about a new ride opening or attraction? Whatever it is, map it out and put it on your editorial calendar now so you have time to plan for and promote it.
2. Put Park Events On Public Community Calendars Now
Community calendars are everywhere. AARP.com has a great one, and so does your local radio station and newspaper. Community calendars are usually are free and they can help your park get regular exposure in local markets.
3. Reevaluate Your Sponsor Program and Start Outreach
Dust off and look at your sponsor program. Are you charging enough? Is the client getting enough value? Can you get case studies or references from your favorite current sponsors? Now is the time to bring your sponsor pages and supporting materials up-to-date. Once this is done, start reaching out to new potential sponsors while it’s early in the season.
4. Review Your Printed Marketing Material
From business cards and name-badges to flyers and signage, this is a good time of year to review your printed marketing material. If it’s faded or out of date, replace it with something better.
5. Plan Seasonal In-Park Guest Engagement Activities
Whether it’s a simple scavenger hunt or immersive in-park quests, this is a good time of year to plan seasonal engagement activities to keep your guests engaged and coming back.
6. Start Implementing This Year’s Theme in Your Flagship Entertainment
If you haven’t already, this is a good time to pick a “theme” for the year and update your entertainment to reflect this. You don’t have to go as far as Disney and make multiple new themed parades and shows throughout the year. Even small aesthetic reflections of a communicated theme can go a long way to making guests feel like they have a unique experience year after year. Your theme might be something as simple as, “Celebrating Nature,” or as complicated as "Building Better Friendships Together.” Whatever it is, make it catchy and give a solid nod to it throughout all park entertainment.
7. Reevaluate Your Merchandise
This is a great time of year to take inventory of what worked last year, what didn’t work, and plan accordingly. Be sure to go outside the theme park space and check out new trends in toys, clothing, accessories, and general merchandise. Be sure to have a variety of merchandise for guests with different interests and budgets. Budget-conscious families with children might be the most obvious choice for your park but also consider additional audience segments like collectors or grandparents who might want to spend more money on longer-lasting, high quality souvenirs.
8. Make a List of Your Reporter Friendlies
Reporter Friendlies are the reporters who know you, and recognize your pitches. They’ve written about you at least once, if not multiple times. Put these reporters and their contact info into a spreadsheet and be sure to pitch them at least a week early on relevant future stories. They’ll appreciate the early head’s up and you’ll be sure to your story goes to a receptive audience.
9. Find a PR Firm or Person
If you don’t already have one, this is a good time to start looking for a good PR firm, PR consultant, or in-house PR person. If you don’t have a large budget, consider hiring a consultant part-time, or a boutique PR firm who specializes in entertainment. Make sure to find one that understands the marketplace your park represents and who has good traction with similar brands.
10. Make a List of The Social Media Influencers You Want to Target. Start Outreach Now.
Have your social media person reach out to social media influencers early (popular influencers line up promotions months in advance). Offer the influencer and a select number of guests complimentary tickets to the park. Be sure to send them your media kit so they’re prepared with information about the park. Coordinate when they’ll arrive and follow up with them after their trip to ensure the best coverage possible. Be sure to amplify and re-share their stories on your social channels.
11. Tie Your PR Stories Into To This Year’s Trends
Look for 4 to 5 hot trends in national and local media and do your best to tie your park’s PR stories into them. If people are concerned about high gas prices, highlight a story about how you’re giving discounts to people who carpool. If health-food is a hot topic, write a story highlighting your park’s delicious healthy food options. Look for stories that set your park apart and while tying into national trends.
12. Update Your Park’s Media Kit
This is a great time to take a few days and update your park’s media kit. A “not too big” PDF that can be read on a phone screen is a great choice because it forces formatting and is relatively easy to make. Be sure to include the basics like a link to browse and download high-rez park pictures, park history, what’s happening in the park nowadays, the park's social media accounts, and any additional facts or frequently asked questions reporters have.
These are just some of the activities you can do to jumpstart your park's peak-season-success. Even implementing a handful of these activities will go a long way to helping your park not just survive, but thrive in the months to come.
By Jennifer L. Jacobson, Founder of Jacobson Communication
Jennifer L. Jacobson is a PR professional and communications strategist specializing in life-changing PR engagement for startups, nonprofits, creative companies, and theme parks. For clients who require strategy, creative services, and advisement, Jennifer draws on her two decades experience as an entrepreneur, creator, author, and musician. Jennifer's clients have been on The View, The Today Show, in TIME magazine's "Best Sites of the Year," FastCompany's "Best Nonprofits," on the front page of USA Today, Popular Science, The New York Times, the Today show, PBS Frontline, and thousands more.
For more articles by Jennifer, visit: https://jacobsoncommunication.com/blog.html
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About the Author
Jennifer is a storyteller who connects big ideas with audiences. She specializes in public relations, brand development, and creative services for startups, theme parks, musicians, authors, nonprofits, and more. From audience awareness to brand development, and positive social change, Jennifer works with clients she believes in and that she believes she can help.