|What’s Cooking at The Ridge Tahoe|
The Ridge is one of the country’s original full-service owner/membership resorts, is considered an iconic family favorite at South Shore. The resort’s appeal has resonated for over a generation for both its accessibility to the downtown attractions and location just steps away to the appeal of active, outdoor recreation. Situated on 11 acres at 7,600 feet, the resort combines a comprehensive package of modern amenities with year-round outdoor recreational attractions that make Lake Tahoe one of the country’s most popular destinations.
WPR has leveraged Ridge Tahoe’s story, charm and personal staff (average length of service: 15 years) to secure local, regional and national media coverage. Recently, USA Today visited the property and participated in a weekly cooking class based on a pitch that the Ridge Tahoe’s executive chef previously served as the personal chef for Tommy Hilfiger.Click Here >
Independent and Proud:
When the owners of Embassy Suites Resort Hotel in South Lake Tahoe, the largest lodging property on the California side of the state line, decided to go independent after 20 years, Weidinger PR was asked to help position the new name and brand while reinforcing the messaging advantages of its new status. Click on the logos to see some samples of the resulting media coverage.
Crises Plan Extinguishes Summer Emergency
When a major forest fire started at South Lake Tahoe, Calif., on Sunday, June 24, 2007, a crisis was upon the area with instant action required. The Angora Fire raged through a residential neighborhood six miles from the downtown tourism center and in two days destroyed 254 homes, burned 3,100 acres and caused an estimated $68 million in damage. The most important and immediate issue was public safety. Evacuations from the affected areas were thorough, orderly and effective, but it still bordered on miraculous that no one was killed or injured.
With Lake Tahoe recognized as a national natural treasure, the resulting news coverage reflected that status. Scores of national and international media descended upon the destination, producing non-stop coverage. The fire was the lead story on every national TV network and major media outlet for days.
Hotel, restaurant, attraction and entertainment cancellations poured in immediately, as many people were under the incorrect impression that the entire Lake Tahoe basin was in flames. The upcoming American Century Celebrity Golf Championship (the area’s largest annual special event) as well as the entire summer tourism season was at risk for the destination.
As the public relations agency of record for the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority (LTVA) – the bi-state agency that promotes tourism to the south shore of Lake Tahoe, we immediately began implementing its Crisis Communications Plan.
The area has had various natural disasters and emergencies over the years including a mudslide that closed the main thoroughfare – Highway 50 – for three months in 1997; a seven-year drought in the late 1980s; and a July 4th fire in 2002 that caused evacuations, including the Weidinger PR office.
Our strategy was clear: Manage communications efforts among various agencies and entities to provide timely and accurate information to media outlets and consumers.
On behalf of LTVA, Weidinger PR participated in meetings with business and community leaders to discuss immediate and long-range community. We led the communications effort to ensure responsible and accurate information dissemination to the media, business leaders, business owners and operators and the public. Weidinger monitored all coverage to ensure accuracy and updated accordingly. Tactics included a daily “fire update” that included information from fire and emergency agencies on various issues, including road conditions and accessibility; a YouTube channel; website messaging and updates; community meetings; and database outreach. We worked in partnership with area businesses and community leaders to ensure consistent messaging. To keep information accurate in our feeder markets, we also sent the daily updates to our counterparts in the tourism industry on the state level as well as major cities nearby to distribute to their audiences.
Once the fire was contained and it was safe for tourist to return, discussions turned to immediate and long-range post-fire recovery efforts for the destination and economy. Our strategy focused on using the upcoming golf tournament and 4th of July holiday as visual demonstrations that Lake Tahoe was resilient, on its feet and open for business.
WPR developed messaging that it was safe to come to Tahoe. When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger visited the area, we utilized photos and quotes in press releases with him saying “Tahoe Is Open”. We worked with the Incident Commander (head fire official who held the daily press conferences) to include public safety updates for the upcoming holiday in his statements. He reiterated “it was safe, encouraged tourists to visit, and support the area’s businesses” and his quotes were used liberally in the coverage. At our request, he rebuked inaccurate reports and then again provided the correct information.
As the local public relations agency of record for the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship – as well as LTVA, we worked with NBC Sports, American Century and the LTVA to coordinate and publicize tournament efforts toward the fire recovery. We helped secure sponsor donations in the amount of $25,000 to match Raley’s Super Store fund (which raised a total of $200,000). We also worked with NBC to air a four-minute piece on the fire with Charles Barkley visiting the site and talking with victims; the piece ran a toll-free number asking for donations.
Post-crisis evaluations showed consistent and accurate messaging that helped minimize any negative impact on tourism during this time.