DISCOVER BOATING, SUNSAIL PARTNER IN PRESS JUNKET
NMMA’s PR department and Sunsail jointly sponsored a press flotilla in the British Virgin Islands, co-hosting journalists from the Chicago Sun-Times, New York Daily News, the Canadian Globe and Mail and National Post, Continental in-flight magazine, HuffingtonPost.com and FoxNews.com.
Four Sunsail sailboats including three monohulls and one catamaran were booked for seven days to accommodate the five participating journalists and their guests. The trip focused on immersing the media in the entire sailing lifestyle. The writers were all on assignment.
Said NMMA PR Director Ellen Hopkins, “Our Discover Boating press group filled four boats of a 12-boat Sunsail flotilla – the remainder of the boats were filled with Sunsail customers. The media found that having the opportunity to interact with actual Sunsail customers on their own boating excursion provided great story ideas/feedback from the average consumer and boating enthusiast. Three of the four Discover Boating boats were staffed by a Discover Boating PR person, and one boat had two reporters and their guests.”
None of the media were active boaters, though one reporter had sailed with her father growing up. After a few days of adjustment, Hopkins said the media began to enjoy, appreciate and thrive in the sailing lifestyle.
“Once they voluntarily showered in the head (where the shower faucet doubled as a sink faucet) instead of lugging their toiletries to dry land, we knew they were rounding the curve to becoming bona fide boaters,” said Hopkins. “Not only did they love the stress relief, but they all commented how all the boating activities boosted their confidence, as they became immersed in the boating lifestyle. You definitely get to know people (who came in as strangers) after living with them on a boat for a week. The personalities of each reporter and their guest were vastly different, yet everyone got along famously, exchanging emails and phone numbers at the end of the trip and noting they’d made friends for life.”
Hopkins also was pleased to share that each participant noted it was the “best press trip they’d ever been on,” a surprise considering some of the week’s adventures.
The flotilla included stops in Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Norman Island, Peter Island, Jost Van Dyke and The Dogs, along with a glimpse of Mosquito and Necker Islands at sunset from the Bitter End Yacht Club. Besides enjoying sailboats, media also were introduced to both power boats and inflatables, plus had the opportunity to go deep sea fishing and snorkeling, and participate in some impromptu recreational racing.
“This was a truly invaluable experience in terms of building strong relationships with the media and giving them the opportunity to personally understand why millions of boaters are so passionate about being on the water,” said Hopkins. “Providing them with a hands-on boating experience offered a unique perspective on boating that would have otherwise been lost in a basic pitch or press release. Several media mentioned that they would have never written a story on boating had they not been on the trip. We left not only creating professional relationships but some really incredible friendships.”