The ChallengesThe city of Santa Rosa, in California’s famed Sonoma County, had long relied on tourism as a major industry and revenue driver, but in the fall of 2017, the Tubbs fire swept through the region. In addition to the devastating loss of life, the city also experienced a loss of roughly half of its hotel room inventory as a result of the fire, which drastically cut their ability to promote the region with their limited Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT).
The SolutionsWhen Santa Rosa was ready to begin the challenging process of moving forward with promoting tourism, Parker Sanpei was brought on to lead the city’s public relations efforts. The agency conducted research into other disaster recovery efforts that had been successful, specifically looking to Australia, where bushfires have caused dramatic impacts in recent years. Research indicated that a “business as usual” approach would not resonate with potential visitors, so instead the agency focused on bringing media to the region to let them discover firsthand how the area was recovering. Messaging centered around the pillars of Santa Rosa – it’s wineries, craft breweries, farm-to-table restaurants, and outdoor activities including hiking, biking and kayaking. The agency’s efforts included a family-friendly media tour as well as individualized visits.
Working with a shoestring, post-disaster budget, the Parker Sanpei team chose to match Visit Santa Rosa’s investment in themselves by donating personal time to their efforts. During the first year of work together, Parker Sanpei curated personalized itineraries for journalists to the region and increased media impressions from1.3M in the prior 12 months to more than 62M. Coverage was secured in prestigious outlets such as Forbes, Via, San Francisco Chronicle, Red Tricycle, UpRoxx, Brides, Men’s Journal, Modern Luxury, GoNomad and Lonely Planet.