Same Old Story?

Yes, the outdoor space is booming—so how do you keep a narrative fresh when it has been the darling topic fro the media for over a year?

By Chris Goddard

EVERYONE KNOWS THAT OUTDOOR PARTICIPATION IS TRENDING UP. OUR INDUSTRY HAD IT pretty sweet duding the last 18 months with news cycle that was hungry for our world, our statistics, our products, our expertise, our financials, and quotes from our CEOs. Outdoor participation is still on a wild ride with no signs of abating anytime soon, but many of our stories have been told—been there done that.

But now what? As marketing and public relations professionals, our challenge is, how do we keep this story fresh? How do we keep broadcasting segment producers and get editors engaged? Mainstream media engrossed? Readers and viewers attracted to our world?

What media outlets want today are forward-looking trends. The are looking for assets that can be repurposed for their different platforms—print, online, or newsletters, etc. With reporters and editors stretched thin, if they can produce content that has nine lives, they provide value to their bosses and their outlet. It is survival of the fittest in today’s media world, especially with layoffs, mergers, acquisitions, and, in some cases, publications completely shutting down.

Here are the best practices for pitching old, but still relevant, stories with a fresh spin:

Provide new statistic about the future (create your own news): We know that cycling, walking, and running participation when through the roof in the early stages of COVID-19, but what will happen to these activities in the future? Will consumers continue to stay engaged? If so, why? And why is that different fro them from before? Will they run or walk or cycle less frequently? Take a survey and create your own news. A survey (e.g. with Harris Insights) enables a brand to develop a proprietary byline.

Showcase technology evolution: Consider a technology story. What did your brand learn from COVID-19? But more importantly, how will your brand change its technology to reflect its learnings? Did it use the time to engineer something completely different from its previous offerings? (And, no, we are not talking about about pivoting to make face masks.) Will it fo into a completely different category? Is there an interesting story as to how they new technology was created?

Tell stories about adapting back to normal: We know about the hardships we all endured, but what steps are consumers taking now to emerge as we get back to normal? Are products being used differently? For different purposes? Tell anecdotal and visually pleasing stories to which readers and viewers can relate. The world is not close to being back to normal, with countries dealing with all different levels of vaccinations; this human-interest story will continue to evolve for a long time. How are outdoor products playing a role in this evolution?

Ask if brand collaborations that resulted from COVID-19 will stick: There were some unusual collaborations over the past 18 months, but the question is, will they continue into the future? Will the evolve? Will they become a product line?

Our profession will continue to be challenged to give the media what they want, and the media landscape has dramatically evolved and will continue to do so. The purpose for reporting and gathering news will never be the same as pre-pandemic times, and, in many cases, news outlets will embrace the procedures they adopted during COVID-19, especially  when it comes to realizing efficiencies. The basic principles of news organizations learned to do more with less. We all have.

Maybe this is true, the more things change the more they stay the same—except not this time. Now now. O.R.


—Chris Goddard is president of CGPR