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ATTA Members Only PR Forum Launched

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Eight adventure travel industry professionals participated in a phone conference April 5th to kick start the ATTA Members Only PR Forum. Detailed below is a record of who participated, a preliminary report of what these initial participants hope to address in the PR Forum, and below that, an overview of the purpose and intent of this group.  ATTA Member representatives interested in participating in future ATTA PR Forum columns, please RSVP to [email protected].


Chris Doyle
Adventure Travel Trade Association
Director, and Editor, AdventureTravelNews

Annie Ellicott
LeapUp – Marketing Solutions

Casey Marker
Director, Marketing
Zegrahm & Eco Expeditions

Mark O’Toole
Vice President, North America

Mollie Petersen
Senior Account Executive
Publicis – Seattle

Sara Widness
Widness & Wiggins PR

Dave Wiggins
Widness & Wiggins PR

Anna Stancioff
Hawkins International Public Relations

Initial Agenda Review for the April 5th Gathering:
ATTA suggests the following agenda item for this first meeting – subsequent agendas will be generally crafted prior to the closure of each meeting:

  • Review the Purpose, Spirit and Framework of this nascent PR Forum
  • Consider parameters of the group, discuss optimal size of the PR Forum
  • Consider focused “recruitment” strategy to draw additional participants as needed
  • Brainstorm on the most pressing topics of the day (e.g., crises, climate change, voluntourism, best practices, sustainable solutions, standards, consumer resources, etc.), so that we might chew on those with the most common priority for participants prior to the next meet
  • Briefly reflect on the day’s meeting, feedback, etc.
  • Consider possible online networking/community-building solutions to compliment/support the PR Forum
  • Discuss Next Steps, Next Meeting/s

Participant Hopes for the Budding PR Forum

The following summary encapsulates the key thinking of this “charter” group:

PR Forum wishes to address the following – in no particular order, more of a green-light sheet:

  • Definitions of adventure travel – clarity, for media, consumers, and industry consistency
  • Carbon-Offsets and related environmental, cultural and sustainability issues
  • International Polar Year – capitalizing on major world events/occurrences upon which the adventure travel community might leverage
  • Bolstering the educational elements linked to adventure travel – educating stakeholders, interested parties, etc., plus literally the educational aspect of adventure travel
  • Addressing the difficulty ratings conundrum – e.g., a consistent Matrix upon which the industry may secure consistency, implying greater ease for travelers
  • Industry positioning points, White Papers, etc., address core topics
  • Increase delivery of and leverage RESEARCH to drive adventure travel industry coverage
  • Adventure travel is a fun, media genic topic – collectively present to the industry insights, strategies, tactics that can help adventure travel industry professionals secure increased, positive media coverage
  • Develop a chest of PR development tools that helps the industry deliver stand-out strategies for the purpose of securing a greater share of travel coverage usually given to general travel & leisure pursuits – from Gold and Mai Tai’s to Adventure Travel!
  • Leverage research, surveys and trends to get notice for the Adventure Travel Industry
  • Develop an industry-wide Facts & Figures solution for media – ATTA serving as a key source, and providing such a tool to the industry
  • Paint our industry as a green industry – after all, we’ve probably been one of the most sensitive industries for decades – culturally, environmentally, etc.
  • Take a bigger chunk of the Travel & Leisure market – shift journalist thinking toward the more awakening consumer, progressive traveler, etc.
  • Position the ATTA as the hub for the media
  • Leverage adventure travel community experts – e.g., ATTA Experts Database, which launches May 2007
  • Leverage ATTA’s new consumer resource – build out media center at www.adventure.traveland the ATTA’s other properties
  • Launch the ATTA Research Committee – different from the PR and Small Tour Operator forums as the Committee will be “charged” with specific strategies, projects and tasks
  • Communicate to the industry at large the specific needs of the media – break into specific industry sectors (e.g., tourism boards, tour operators, guides, agencies, etc.) to better serve the media
  • Share media databases
  • Distribute leads to the industry – already in progress, but more needed – develop the leads distribution resource to be complimentary to existing media services such as TravMedia, ATMS, etc.
  • Consider leverage existing events and developing new ATTA events to stimulate media interest and participation, and share these strategies with industry professionals to help them engage the media in more face-to-face opportunities

What Next?
The next ATTA Members Only PR Forum call will be held Thursday, April 19th at 10AM PDT.  If you’re interested an meet the qualifications outlined below, please email [email protected].  The agenda will center on prioritizing the host of topics outlined above, with initial discussion of the priority topics and eye toward solutions.

PR Forum Concept:
An ATTA-facilitated assembly for the discussion of and exchange of adventure travel industry public relations matters and current questions concerning the development, growth, challenges, crises, issues, etc., facing adventure travel professionals worldwide.

More specifically, the PR Forum would be loosely “charged” to:

  • Advance the industry and the professionals who represent it;
  • Present a more consistent, thoughtful and unified messaging platform
  • Respond immediately, clearly, thoughtfully and influentially to industry wide crises and issues
  • Create strong messaging platforms, timelines, campaigns, etc., upon which adventure travel PR representatives and their teams may draw upon to help to generate awareness, understanding and positive reception to the industry at large, and more specifically for primary sectors of the adventure travel industry (e.g., destinations, tour operators, agencies/agents, guides, etc.)
  • Seek areas of opportunity to collaborate, share resources and minds for mutual gain on the PR front resulting in positive publicity for all “ships in the harbor.”
  • Contribute to a body of knowledge on the PR front to be shared with ATTA Members in their pursuit of the aforementioned elements.
  • Address concerning credibility and ethics issues, strengthening the highest standards of professionalism, ethics and excellence worldwide

Spirit of the STO Forum:

Alright then, the bullet points above are the official goal as the ATTA sees it from the outset.  These are malleable, but provide a framework from which we can get started.

Our (shared) PR Forum is intended as a think-tank of sorts.  It’s an open meeting place for industry representives who wish to share and deliberate strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats facing the adventure travel industry and the impact of the same on the PR (and Marketing) front.

It’s a place where PR experts may reveal the real challenges of day-to-day PR issues, discuss growth pains, explore issues, and zero in on solutions and opportunities that can help to improve businesses, reduce negative coverage, solve issues, etc.

Competitors will contribute to the forum.  With this in mind, it is understood that the PR Forum is designed as a place to openly share, expose weaknesses and assorted challenges.  Challenges/issues will be respected, honored and held in confidence with other forum members unless specific permissions are made to the contrary.

Key issues are expected to emerge from this forum.  Recognizing this, PR Forum participants recognize that, for the good of the industry at large, specific challenges may be interpreted and later communicated in general terms to contribute to a broader body of knowledge that can deliver positive contributions to others.

Ideas and topics emanating from the PR Forum are likely to serve as fodder for AdventureTravelNews™ topics, contribute to Adventure Travel World Summit planning and sessions, the launch of new, ATTA Member benefit initiatives, help to drive ATTA Member benefits, ATTA PR and Marketing campaigns on behalf of the industry, training, Web casts, etc.  PR Forum participants are encouraged to contribute to AdventureTravelNews – editorial contributions will be seriously considered, including Op-Ed pieces intended to be shared with more than 9,000 adventure travel industry professionals.

Solutions focused, the PR Forum is meant to allow for provocative and thoughtful dialogue that leads to progressive and productive outcomes vs. the notion of simply a new forum to air out complaints.  Same goes for any online community venue created as a result of this group.

Though initially launched and facilitated by the ATTA, which primarily provides the mechanism by which to hold each forum, no single leadership structure is expected to emerge.  The “charter” group will begin small, involving a handful or two of PR experts representing a solid cross-section of the industry.  It is this early-adopter group, this budding community that will address the initial scope, and then move to recommend next steps, size of group, frequency, etc.

PR Forum participants will hope for regular participation, but will not hold individuals to a hardened schedule.  In fact, the content, style and outcome, we hope, will be so compelling that will not be an issue.  If the meetings event hint at becoming tiring, irrelevant or cumbersome, it’s incumbent upon the participants to openly share the concerns – we all agree to keep the topics fresh, relevant and moving.

PR Forum participants will be interested in keeping meetings fresh and creative.  We are open to bringing in experts, contributors, and changing the overall style of each meeting – if we so desire.   A debate one meeting may be in order, while a greenlight brainstorming may rule the next.  The group will deliberate in short order, and hopefully, move to action in setting the next meeting’s agenda.  It’s quite possible that special “task forces” – for lack of a better term – may emerge to take on ownership of an issue so that the group may continue to evolve and address other pressing topics.

Bureaucracy…hmmm…we don’t want that.  The concept is a fast-moving, community of thinkers.  While process will be important to fuel focus and solution, it should not drive this Forum.  Let’s all see to it that this Forum doesn’t devolve into process, policies, rules, etc.

Initial Guidelines for Participation to Make the Most of This Forum:

  • Public Relations/Marketing Professionals – VP, Director, Manager and/or Consulting Firm principle
  • Commitment to active involvement while attending any given meeting

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