With two million acres of mountains, forests and some of the most iconic national parks in America, the Black Hills of western South Dakota are a truly remarkable leisure destination. But tourism officials realized they had some pretty remarkable challenges, too. For starters, brand awareness and perception were incredibly low. Many potential vacationers had never heard of the Black Hills, and if they had, they were making incorrect and negative assumptions about the place. And no wonder. The dozen major cities and towns in the region were all trying to market their own corner of the Black Hills – in some cases, even outright competing against one another.
Beginning in 2002, some forward-thinking tourism officials partnered with TDG's public relations team to make progressive changes. The formation of the Black Hills Air Service Task Force brought together all the major regional tourism players in an effort to market the region as a whole. The goal: to increase positive media coverage of the area in order to increase tourism across the Black Hills.
Since 2005, the campaign has directly generated more than $424 million in measurable media coverage around the world, ranging from featured travel stories in the Chicago Tribune and the New Zealand Herald to a major broadcast concert event on Country Music Television. That's nearly half a billion dollars' worth of unpaid media.
Black Hills Travel Blog
Our digital media team also launched the Black Hills Travel Blog and a coordinated online public relations campaign to generate buzz for the Black Hills on Internet travel resources. In addition to driving featured content on sites like IgoUgo, Travelocity's popular blog, and BootsnAll, an adventure travel site, the creation of the blog itself garnered national media attention, popping up in USA Today and picking up top honors from the International Communicator Awards. Today the Black Hills Facebook page, managed by TDG, is one of the most visited travel pages on Facebook with nearly 45,000 likes and thousands of active daily users.