Paul Holmes 20 May 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
NEW YORK, May 18—Just weeks after the British Tourist Authority selected GCI Group to handle a major public relations campaign in 10 countries, two more U.K. tourism bodies are stepping up their efforts to communicate in the U.S., apparently concerned that misconceptions about foot-and-mouth disease and mad cow disease could be preventing American visitors from crossing the Atlantic.
The Scottish Tourist Board announced this week that it has received increased funds from the Scottish Parliament to step up its advertising and PR efforts in the U.S., and will work with New Paradigm Advertising, an upstate New York agency, and its sister company, GMG PR. Meanwhile, the Irish minister for tourism, sport and recreation James McDaid has been on a one-week media tour of the U.S., assisted by New York travel PR specialist Lou Hammond & Associates.
LH&A was given just a week to prepare for the four-city tour by McDaid, the centerpiece of a two-month crisis communications program by the Irish Tourist Board to combat American concerns about foot-and-mouth disease. A 20 percent drop in bookings to Ireland has been attributed to the disease, despite the fact that Ireland is free from foot-and-mouth and open for business.
LH&A’s strategy was to reach out to short-lead publications and radio in each of four cities: Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and New York. The result was six radio interviews and coverage on CNN Live and in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. The agency also helped arrange visits to the destination by reporters from trade media and consumer publications including The Washington Times and New York magazine.
As for the Scottish program, GMG’s Risa Hoag said the focus would be on “the food scene, the culture, the festivals that are going on” rather than on foot-and-mouth, emphasizing that “there have been no new cases. It’s a non-issue. This is an effort to say there’s so much going on over there. It’s not focused on foot-and-mouth.”