You might not think that a natural attraction would want or need any kind of advertising. Surely everyone knows where the Grand Canyon is, right?
Well, wrong. In fact, most people in a recent poll didn’t even realize that the Grand Canyon is in Arizona - many thought it was in Colorado! Only 38% of respondents knew where this massive landmark was located.
You might be thinking - so what? Gone are the days when travelers are wholly dependent on maps and atlases. Anyone who punches “Grand Canyon” into their phone’s GPS will be directed accordingly. So does it matter?
You might also be thinking … what need does the Grand Canyon have for marketing? It’s not a business - right?
Wrong. Natural attractions are a huge part of the multi-billion-dollar tourism industry, attracting millions of visitors every year and contributing significantly to the tourism industry's revenue.
National parks, nature reserves, hiking and biking trails, snowmobile/ATV trails … the list of in-demand natural attractions goes on and on. For many tourists, nothing can compete with natural beauty.
These are some of the most popular destinations for both domestic and international tourists. Many businesses in the tourism industry rely on natural attractions to attract visitors to their region. Hotels, restaurants, and tour companies all benefit from the presence of natural attractions, as they provide a unique and memorable experience that can't be found elsewhere.
Governments at the local, state, and national level invest significant resources in promoting and maintaining these sites. This includes infrastructure improvements, marketing and advertising campaigns, and environmental conservation efforts. These investments not only benefit the natural attraction itself but also contribute to the overall economic health of the region.
National parks exist to protect and preserve natural and cultural resources for future generations. However, they also have operating costs such as salaries for staff, maintenance of facilities, and conservation efforts. In order to fund these expenses, national parks typically charge entrance fees and may also generate revenue through tourism-related activities, such as guided tours, concessions, and camping fees.
While the primary goal of national parks is not to generate profits, the funds generated from these sources are essential to ensure that the parks are well-maintained and that visitors have a positive experience. Additionally, the revenue generated by national parks can have a positive impact on the surrounding communities by supporting local businesses and creating jobs.
It is important to note that national parks are not run like businesses with the sole aim of making a profit. Rather, their primary purpose is to protect natural and cultural resources while providing opportunities for visitors to enjoy and appreciate these areas.
Even the most stunning natural attraction needs to be effectively marketed and promoted in order to attract visitors and generate revenue. Public relations (PR) can be an effective tool for boosting natural attractions and increasing their visibility among potential visitors.
There is often fierce competition among natural attractions, as there are many stunning locations around the world that attract tourists. Effective marketing and promotion can help to differentiate one natural attraction from another and make it stand out to potential visitors.
Also, the tourism industry is constantly evolving, with changing consumer preferences and new trends emerging. Natural attractions need to keep up with these changes and adapt their marketing strategies to appeal to different segments of the market.
National parks and attractions have used PR in a variety of ways to increase visibility and attract visitors. Here are some real-world examples of how they have done so:
The Grand Canyon National Park has used PR to promote its unique features and encourage visitation. In 2019, the park launched a “Find Your Park” campaign in partnership with the National Park Foundation. The campaign included a social media contest that encouraged visitors to share photos and stories about their experiences at the park, as well as a video series that highlighted the park’s natural beauty and recreational opportunities.
The campaign was a success, generating thousands of social media posts and driving traffic to the park’s website. It also helped to position the Grand Canyon National Park as a thought leader in the outdoor recreation space, and to increase awareness and interest in the park among potential visitors.
Yosemite National Park has used PR to promote its sustainability initiatives and position itself as a leader in environmental stewardship. In 2019, the park announced that it had achieved zero-waste status for the first time, thanks to a comprehensive waste reduction program that included composting, recycling, and education initiatives.
The park used PR to publicize its zero-waste achievement, generating media coverage in outlets like the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. The coverage helped to position Yosemite as a thought leader in sustainable tourism, and to showcase the park’s commitment to preserving its natural resources for future generations.
No, not the popular series starring Kevin Costner … although he did host a stunning documentary exploring the real Yellowstone.
Yellowstone National Park has used PR to promote its unique geothermal features and attract visitors from around the world. In 2019, the park launched a campaign in China that included a social media contest and a series of promotional events in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
The campaign was a success, generating millions of social media impressions and driving traffic to the park’s website. It also helped to position Yellowstone as a top destination for Chinese tourists, and to increase awareness and interest in the park among this key demographic.
In 2023, Yellowstone released a “2023 State of the Park report”, highlighting the progress made by park teams and partners over the past two years, along with goals for the future. It included details on how Yellowstone overcame the 2022 flood and describes the park’s 150th anniversary commemoration.
The National Park Foundation, the official charitable partner of the National Park Service, has used PR to raise awareness and support for national parks and attractions across the country. In 2020, the foundation launched a campaign called “Parks from Home” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The campaign included a series of virtual tours and educational resources that allowed people to explore national parks and attractions from the safety of their own homes. The foundation used PR to publicize the campaign, generating media coverage in outlets like USA Today and National Geographic. The coverage helped to position the foundation as a leader in the national parks space, and to promote its mission of protecting and preserving these important natural and cultural resources.
One of the most powerful tools in a PR professional’s arsenal is the ability to generate media coverage. By pitching stories about the natural attraction to relevant media outlets, PR professionals can increase the attraction’s visibility among potential visitors.
For example, a PR professional might pitch a story about a new hiking trail that has been added to a local nature reserve to a travel magazine or outdoor enthusiast publication. This can help generate interest in the attraction among people who are passionate about nature and outdoor recreation.
Influencer marketing has become increasingly popular in recent years, and it can be a particularly effective tool for promoting natural attractions. By building relationships with influencers in the travel and outdoor recreation spaces, PR professionals can tap into their audiences and increase visibility for the attraction.
For example, a PR professional might reach out to a popular travel blogger or Instagram influencer and offer them a free tour or experience at the natural attraction. In exchange, the influencer would share their experience with their followers, generating buzz and interest in the attraction.
Another way that PR strategies can boost a natural attraction is by creating engaging content that showcases the attraction’s unique features and benefits. This might include videos, photos, or written content that highlights the natural beauty of the attraction and the experiences that visitors can have there.
For example, a PR professional might create a video that takes viewers on a virtual tour of a national park or nature reserve, showcasing the stunning scenery and wildlife that visitors can expect to see.
In addition to promoting the natural attraction itself, PR professionals can also work to build relationships with local businesses that can help support and promote the attraction. This might include restaurants, hotels, and outdoor recreation companies that cater to visitors.
For example, a PR professional might work with a local hotel to offer a package deal that includes a stay at the hotel and a tour of the natural attraction. This can help drive business to both the hotel and the attraction, while also providing a more convenient and enjoyable experience for visitors.
Finally, PR strategies can help boost a natural attraction by positioning its caretakers, explorers, and other staff members as thought leaders in the industry. By sharing insights and expertise on topics related to nature and outdoor recreation, the attraction can establish its network as a go-to resource for information and inspiration.
For example, a PR professional might work with scientists studying a natural attraction to create blog posts or articles that provide tips and advice for visitors. This can help position the attraction as an expert in the field, and can also drive traffic to the attraction’s website.
PR strategies can be a powerful tool for boosting natural attractions and increasing their visibility among potential visitors. By generating media coverage, building relationships with influencers and local businesses, creating engaging content, and positioning the attraction as a thought leader, PR professionals can help drive traffic to natural attractions and increase revenue for the organizations that manage them.
Imperium Group is an American public relations and marketing consultancy firm. Founded in 2016, it specializes in guaranteed placements, creating utmost transparency for its clients. Imperium Group generates over 15M impressions a month for its clients. Its team is based out of New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles.
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