the miles blog

Our pursuit of fresh ideas, backed by leading-edge research, keeps our destination and hospitality clients ahead of the competition.

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Marketing Mother Nature

By Steven Keith
on Thursday, September 18th, 2014

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As the official agency of record for Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites, Miles has developed and is executing a long-term strategic plan to strengthen the Georgia park system’s marketing efforts to drive increased visitation and revenue through the coming years.

Basically that means we get to find creative ways to showcase the beauty of Georgia parks to potential visitors—and with more than 60 unique state parks, outdoor recreation areas and historic sites boasting ancient Indian mounds, a “Little Grand Canyon,” spectacular mountain vistas, waterfalls, caves, swimming holes, swamps and more, Mother Nature makes it easy.

In the first year of our partnership alone, we have:

• Developed New Branding
Miles collected extensive travel research and information on vacation trends, which we applied to Georgia’s internal marketing goals to develop a new branding initiative to guide all marketing and public relations efforts. This included everything from branding elements like colors and icons to new messaging and photography. Several elements are highlighted below.

Georgia State Parks Brand Tool Kit

• Designed New Advertising and eNewsletters
To help effectively convey our brand and messaging, Miles designed new print ads, digital ads and enewsletter templates so advertising efforts across all platforms would start communicating the same look and feel. These designs will now being carried through other marketing materials for consistency, including brochures, the website, mobile site and app.

GA ad

GA ad_2

GA web ad

GA enewsletter

• Coordinated Ongoing Media Placement
After developing new marketing goals and identifying top geographic and niche markets, Miles developed an integrated digital and traditional media plan to reach these targets as efficiently as possible. We coordinate all media buying and placement tasks, plus constantly monitor, optimize and report on media performance.

• Audited Website, Mobile Site, App and Social Media
Although building a new website, mobile site or app was not immediately in the client’s budget, Miles still conducted audits of all three products to flag significant problems and recommend short-term solutions to optimize performance. Along those same lines, we completed a month-long audit of the client’s social media efforts to recommend improvements and missed opportunities on those channels.

• Conducted an Extensive Photo Shoot
After conducting an extensive audit of Georgia’s existing photo library, Miles created a list of new images needed to effectively communicate our new brand messaging. We then hired Georgia travel photographer Ralph Daniel and directed a statewide photo shoot at 10 different state parks that delivered thousands of new images now being used in our marketing and public relations efforts. (Read more about our photo shoot here.)

Kolomoki Mounds State Park; photo by Ralph Daniel

Kolomoki Mounds State Park; photo by Ralph Daniel

Kolomoki Mounds State Park; photo by Ralph Daniel

Kolomoki Mounds State Park; photo by Ralph Daniel

Seminole State Park; photo by Ralph Daniel

Seminole State Park; photo by Ralph Daniel

Chattahoochee Bend State Park; photo by Ralph Daniel

Chattahoochee Bend State Park; photo by Ralph Daniel

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Using Present-Day Technologies to Experience the Past

By Meredith Lamb
on Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

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D7K_0024This past July my husband and I visited Antietam Battlefield in Maryland. After registering at the National Park Visitor’s Center, we were provided with a map and a brochure to guide us around the battlefield. There are walking paths through and around the area, but in order to see the entire battlefield, a driving tour of 8.5 miles is required. This is a self-guided tour of 11 stops that can take approximately 2 hours. Stops are marked on the park maps and you can get out at the stops to view the area on foot. All along the tour are monuments to militias who made up the North and South armies and were lost during the battles. Read entire post >

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Traveling for a Team

By Roselle Cronan
on Thursday, September 4th, 2014

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If you’ve ever been at Tampa International Airport on a Friday, you’ll likely see people wearing college apparel waiting for their flight to wherever a person’s school of choice happens to be playing. My destination of choice for football weekend is Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

College football has influenced my fall travel plans for years. Being an Alabama Crimson Tide alumna and a longtime season ticket holder, I travel to Tuscaloosa for three home games on average each season. I’ve also gone to a few games on “neutral ground” (Atlanta and Jacksonville) and two post-season games (the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and the Capital One Bowl in Orlando).

Sports and sporting events can be big draws for a destination. The National Association of Sports Commissions reported 23.9 million sports visitors in 2011 and $7.68 billion in spending from those visitors. Some visitors may be “day trippers,” while others may stay longer and explore other attractions. Read entire post >

Part 2 of The Decline (and Death?) of Facebook as an Organic Publishing Platform

By Chris Adams
on Thursday, August 28th, 2014

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Part 2 of 2. Read the first installment of this Blog here.

Facebook Cementery

Now that Facebook has morphed into a primarily paid publishing platform for businesses, it’s time for every tourism marketer to pause and rethink your approach to Facebook and your wider communication and online strategy. Here are six critical takeaways to consider in this review:

1. Update Your Social Media and Content Strategy.
In this new environment, it is time to review and refine your social media and content strategy. What is clear is  i. quality content counts now more than ever, ii. Facebook needs to be run primarily as a paid media platform and iii. Facebook’s management needs tight integration with your other online (and offline) advertising channels. Review and update your objectives for the platform. What does success look like and how will you measure ROI?

2. Quality Content Over Quantity.
For organizations with a significant online community – and a reasonable level of engagement, then impactful posts can still generate some level of unpaid, organic reach. The quality, not the quantity of posts, by your organizations counts more than ever in this new environment. Review your content and communication strategy for Facebook with an emphasis on top-performing content types such as highly engaging imagery, online video and fewer words. Review your past posts and those of your competitors and peers to see what content has engaged most effectively. Leverage Facebook’s Insight Analytics.  Be prepared to “boost” your message when you generate some positive organic reach. The terminal decline of organic reach on Facebook is another reason to ensure your organization is investing seriously in creating engaging content about your destination or tourism business – for all your channels, including web, email, print and social. Read entire post >

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The Decline (and Death?) of Facebook as an Organic Publishing Platform

By Chris Adams
on Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

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Part 1 of a 2 Part Blog

Something has changed at Facebook – and it is turning social media marketing upside down. Over the last 12-24 months Facebook has been slowly changing the social media platform into primarily a “paid publishing” platform for businesses – including destination and hotel marketers. This is because to reach any significant number of your own fans/followers you now need to advertise on the platform. Facebook Cementery

An online community which grew explosively based on free, open conversation by its members -  has suddenly become a “pay-to-play” platform for business.

Typical organic posts from commercial entities – which are not sponsored or “boosted” in any way – are now reaching only a small faction (1%-2%) of their own fans/followers on Facebook. This change has been driven by slow but steady changes in Facebook’s “EdgeRank,” the complex algorithm that controls what content you see in your News Feed. Only the most engaged fans/followers that have been actively interacting with your content – commenting on or sharing it with their friends – are now likely to see any of your posts. Facebook claims this is due to “Content Shock” and the need to tightly filter the huge volume of content that most fans/followers are potentially exposed to and only deliver that which is most relevant and engaging.

However, many experts have also seen aggressive steps by Facebook to monetize the platform and drive value from the huge online community. Wall Street has big expectations. Read entire post >

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