C l i e n t : Personal Watercraft Industry Association (PWIA)
T a c t i c s : Media Relations, Grassroots Marketing, Legislative Support, Social Media
S t r a t e g y : Establish strategic alliances with PWC groups and clubs in order to communicate the message of safety on the water and push signatures for the pledge.
O u t c o m e s : Media Coverage, Social Engagement and Growth, Increase in Signatures of Online Pledge Form
PWIA is a national association that was created to promote the safe, responsible and enjoyable operation of personal watercraft (PWC). The group also serves as advocates for PWC manufacturers such as: Yamaha, Kawasaki, and BRP. The organization provides a unified voice for the industry and represents the interests of personal watercraft manufacturers in legislative and regulatory concerns, as well as the general on-the-water public.
PRIMARY RESEARCH was gathered by Commonwealth PR through meetings with the Personal Watercraft Industry Association’s (PWIA) leadership, marketing department, members, and public affairs staff to get an idea of what worked and didn’t work the previous year. We also asked for details of the strategies and tactics implemented as part of the Safe Rider program. Additionally, key local, regional and national reporters were identified as targets based on previous coverage of the Safe Rider launch.
SECONDARY RESEARCH revealed what would be considered a “game changer” for possible registrations and advocacy of the program. Online research identified that in many states across the country, there are groups or clubs (potential advocates) specifically for personal watercraft (PWC) riders. This research provided detailed lists of PWC clubs with their contact information, allowing us to build a targeted national list of people who would likely sign and advocate for Safe Rider. Internet research also uncovered contact information for livery (marine rental) companies that rented Jet Skis, as well as marine police and other on-the-water enforcement agencies. Lastly, this research indicated that social media could be an additional platform for increasing signatures of the Safe Rider pledge, and helped us develop a list of advocates using social media.
Planning for Tactical Success
With the GOAL of driving a record-breaking number of sign-ups for Safe Rider, we utilized the strategy of establishing strategic alliances with the PWC groups and clubs (advocates) uncovered during our research phase, that would help communicate the message of safety on the water and push for signatures of the pledge. Our planning changed from being solely focused on media relations to including a broader array of tactics such as personalized letters, direct mail, phone calls, social media relationship building, and others.
Planning also involved developing the following objectives:
- Increase signatures of the Safe Rider pledge form by 10 percent (34) by the end of the second quarter and set a benchmark for the number of signatures achieved by the end of the summer.
- Establish at least three strategic alliances that help to communicate the message of safety on the water, drive Safe Rider signatures, and maximize brand awareness of PWIA, through traditional marketing tactics.
- Increase news mentions of PWIA and its programs, efforts, or member activities, to at least three (3) placements per quarter and set a benchmark for news coverage moving into the summer months and the launch of the Second Annual Safe Rider Program.
We also created a “Safe Rider” planning section and added it to our overall annual public relations plan. The program ran from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
During the planning phase, we also came up with the idea to develop a Safe Rider decal, which would be mailed with a personalized letter from the executive director of PWIA, to anyone who signed the pledge. The strategy was to utilize the decal to create a brand for Safe Rider that was recognizable and promoted the initiative.
Executing the Safe Rider Plan
On April 14, a little over a month before Memorial Day weekend, our team began a first phase by pitching national media that covered the PWC industry. We continued pitching media outlets throughout the summer targeting areas where PWC accidents had occurred.
After Memorial Day weekend, we began a second phase of our plan to utilize our research and discovery of PWC clubs and marine law enforcement groups, to have them advocate for the program. To communicate with these groups and create advocates of the program, we leveraged the following tactics:
- Emailed more than 50 PWC club leaders
- Mailed personalized letters to state marine law enforcement
- Applied for national recognized from the National Safe Boating Association
- Posted details of Safe Rider on social media channels at least twice a week.
- Conducted more than 50 phone calls to PWC club leaders
- Created customized social media content to share with other social media influencers, as well as PWIA members, that would promote Safe Rider.
Throughout the program we monitored who had signed the pledge and mailed their personalized letter and Safe Rider decal.
Double the Results, Double the Fun.
By Labor Day weekend 2014, the organization had received a 256% increase in signed pledge forms when compared to the previous year.
Additionally, relationships were established with multiple law enforcement groups were, six Jet Ski clubs. We submitted PWIA’s program to two groups to be recognized nationally. Media relations generated more than 100 news stories, with more than 10.5 million impressions. PWIA’s Facebook page grew from 521 Likes to 878, and Twitter followers from 220 to 350.
We also evaluated our efforts via emails and face-to-face meetings with staff of PWIA, where we heard about the results of our success, received comments from members of their association, and were acknowledged for our efforts that were increasing awareness of safe and responsible use of PWCs across the country.