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We need more positive PR

There’s little doubt the media has played an unprecedented role in fanning the flames of the burning economy. So speculated Ben Steverman of Business Week. He aptly pointed out that “Wall Street has faced crises before, but not during a 24/7 news cycle.”

The crises in 1907, 1929, the 1970s and 1987 all tested investors as much as the current financial crisis. “But this time, something is different” Steverman pointed out. “Three cable business channels and countless Web sites offer 24-hour coverage of financial markets seven days a week. The financial panic has unfolded minute by minute in front of our eyes. It's a media environment that seems like a recipe for panic,” speculated Steverman. It seems to me he’s right on!

On the other hand, the media can also present a positive message, albeit too infrequently these days. I refer to a great article in the Oct. 17 issue of the New York Times by Ron Lieber titled “Some Purchases May Still Be Worth the Price.” In it, he explains that there are times it's not just about money. When it comes to buying a new boat, the value is intrinsically tied to life, family, happiness and much more.

Referring to the constant negative news we hear these days, Lieber observed: “But it’s easy to forget a couple of important things. First of all, the vast majority of people in the United States are not going to lose their jobs. Second, most of us work not merely for subsistence but so we can spend money on things and experiences that bring us some form of contentment,” he added.

Lieber went on to describe a Michigan family that bought a 38-foot sailboat and the positive impact it has had on their lives. Their boat was an investment in something much more valuable than money – an investment in relationships! Click here for the full article.

It’s time our industry takes a cue from Steverman and Lieber. Perhaps even more so now that the Discover Boating ad campaign is on hold until next summer. We need to go on the offense with a steady stream of press releases and stories that positively show boating provides things more valuable than money.

In fact, as you read this blog today, the Marine Marketers of America (MMA) are meeting at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show. NMMA president Thom Dammrich is the featured speaker. You may never have heard of MMA but there is a wealth of communications talent there, the top ad and PR people in boating today.

It seems to me there’s an opportunity for MMA to make a great contribution to the industry by developing a PR program that will emphasize the value of boating no matter what the economy. For example, materials such as model releases/stories that could be distributed locally by marine trades associations and/or boat shows; outlines for online viral promotions; TV interview concepts, just to suggest a few ideas.

With the talent in MMA and the communications networks of NMMA, it’s a great time for these communicators to take the lead in projecting the positives of boating at a time when we need to get such a message out wherever we can.

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