For nearly 20 years, the southern portion of the Outer Banks of North Carolina has been branded as the “The Crystal Coast,” a name inspired by the sunlit coast along the banks of the destination. Summer months are filled with families in vacation rentals, visitors in hotels and restaurants satisfying guests from traditional drive markets. And, while summer occupancy is at an all-time high, there remains a need to gain more visitors during the critical shoulder and off-seasons. While unaided brand awareness has risen in primary and secondary markets in the decade, The Crystal Coast remains a fledgling brand with individual cities receiving a higher level of awareness than the destination.
During the first few years of the relationship, the task was to improve targeting and firmly establish the area as a family destination. Now, we are shifting to establish the destination as a spring and fall escape, while increasing visitation during winter. Primary research indicates high-interest in non-traditional beach activities including, history, fishing, museums and kayaking. As a “small destination in a world of larger destinations,” The Crystal Coast has to fight for share of voice. The ability of the public relations team to consistently secure exceptional exposure in regional drive markets complemented by national and niche media is crucial to the success of the destination.
Key Initiatives

To establish the destination as a true year-round North Carolina vacation destination, the PR team recalibrated the target demographic to focus on young professionals /millennials and empty nesters not tied to the school calendar without alienating the core family audience. Efforts focused on top drive markets while amplifying national ground cover.

Strategy & Execution

To stimulate demand during key need periods, the agency strategically bundled tactics into seasonal creative campaigns — e.g. History’s Mysteries, Imagination Vacation, Adventurous Souls, Winter Nights & Holiday Lights — highlighting what the destination has to offer beyond the beach, spotlighting active seasonal event schedules, activities and accommodation offerings.

Overall demand during the crucial September through March period increased dramatically with an emphasis on non-traditional, non-beach activities and events. The efforted garnered more than 360 million earned media impressions between September and March, with an advertising equivalency in excess of $45 million. For the entire year, total impressions swelled to more than 545 million total earned impressions. The destination exceeded growth in occupancy and total tourism related taxes for three consecutive years.
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