Talking Tourism Monthly Column in the Cook County News Herald.
Originally published: July 2017
Talking Tourism: Increased media coverage of Cook County events and its hidden gems is not accidental | By Lynn Ingrid Nelson, LINPR
Since you don’t live in the Twin Cities, you may not realize that the buzz about Grand Marais down here has grown by 10-fold during the past few years. I do, however, hope you’ve noticed a corresponding increase in tourist traffic.
In early 2014, my PR firm was hired by Visit Cook County (VCC) to expand the county’s media relations outreach. We work regularly with VCC’s staff and their marketing agency in Duluth to alert news media in the Twin Cities, Duluth and Thunder Bay (and throughout Cook County) about tourism opportunities in Grand Marais and the surrounding communities.
So far, we’ve had the great pleasure of working on stories that range from music written about the Gunflint Mail Run, to the renovation of the Beaver House, to the wonders of waterfall season, to new gondolas at Lutsen Mountains (Yes, we work with Jim Vick, too.).
In addition to pitching news stories about tourist attractions in Cook County, each month we work with VCC to promote the fun events it sponsors in the area, including the Lutsen 99er, the North Shore Water Festival, Unplugged, and Radio Waves, to name a few of the 20 or more Cook County events that we share with the media throughout the state and Thunder Bay each year.
What makes a good media story?
You may wonder how we decide what stories to share. While PR is as much of an art as it is a science, here are some of our considerations:
- A good media story must pass a busy editor’s “so what?” test. The editor’s primary customer is the reader, so she has a good eye for what readers care about, and she looks at every story from that perspective.
- It may include a historical perspective like the work we did on the Ham Lake fire anniversary, which was covered extensively by MPR and the Star Tribune.
- A good story is not trying to sell If sharing info has an overt sales objective, it’s a better idea to “buy an ad”.
- A good story tends to be about something new, prominent (everyone knows about the subject – like the Lutsen Resort sale story) or unusual (like the time the baby moose was rescued from Hungry Jack Lake). Thanks to VCC’s fast response and a little help from us, more than 200 media outlets picked up that story, sharing it with over 300 million people.
Why engage in media contests like ‘Coolest Small Town in America’?
I’m sure you’ve been asked to vote for Grand Marais, so that it can win a top spot in a magazine or newspaper contest. While being solicited for these votes does get tiring, millions of people have now heard about Grand Marais and its surrounding area because you and thousands of others have voted for Grand Marais in USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town, Outside Magazine’s The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2016, and Budget Travel’s 2015 Coolest Small Town in America contests.
News stories add up to big awareness
So far this year, with the help of the VCC staff and Giant Voices, we’ve placed approximately 250 news stories and 200 media calendar notices about events and happenings in Cook County. Some stories about Cook County just seem to happen on their own, but we’re confident that sending news releases several times every month keeps Cook County top of mind with reporters and editors.
If you have a great story idea, and/or a compelling photo or video, don’t hesitate to share it with the VCC team. We love spreading the word about things to do and the hidden gems throughout Cook County.
Lynn Ingrid Nelson is the president of LIN Public Relations Inc. See www.linpr.com for more information. Lynn welcomes your comments and possible story ideas. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.Cook County News Herald by Lynn Ingrid Nelson, LINPR Lynn Ingrid Nelson is the president of LIN Public Relations Inc. See www.linpr.com for more information. Lynn welcomes your comments and possible story ideas. You can contact her at email@example.com.