Auto Show communications staff uses blizzard to its advantage, preserved media momentum
The Blizzard of 2016 that shut down the DC region for days and delayed the opening of The Washington Auto Show was daunting for everyone, but as the snow was flying, day after day, the Auto Showês communications team was hard at work strategizing its next move. And that next move boiled down to this: when the snow stops and the sun shines on the mess left behind, the team needs to hit the bricks running on rolling out the show, making up for lost time. So as soon as the streets were clear enough to run on those bricks — which turned out to be Tuesday, Jan. 26 — thatês what happened.
Opening day couldnêt come soon enough, because every day we remained closed, put us further behind the eight ball, said Barbara Pomerance, director of Auto Show communications. Then it came on Tuesday and the show finally opened to the public. But there was considerable lead up to that, with scores of phone calls and emails to all the Auto Showês media partners in town to redirect the displaced energy lost in the four day shut down to what proved to be the remaining six show days.
We were blessed with fair weather preceding the blizzard enabling us to build substantial media hype on the Auto Showês two Public Policy Days, which gained us some of the most robust industry/media days weêve ever had, Pomerance said. Our first Public Policy Day on Capitol Hill, with the MobilityTalks panel and the Connected Car Convoy from the Hill to the DC Convention Center and the show, captivated journalists with insider access to the industry thought leaders it yielded, she said.
In spite of the snowed out public days, therefore, Auto Show communicators capitalized on the media energy created before the blizzard hosting network TV news crews every morning the show was open — sometimes as early as 5:30 a.m. — along with pre-arranged radio interviews, all of which refocused Washingtonês attention on the showês presence and value. The Auto Show also teamed up effectively with management in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to fashion joint media statements to the public with news updates on adjusted show hours and daily events that struck the right balance of concern and optimism.
The communications team, in short, kept the Auto Showês media momentum moving forward and ultimately tapping into the vast reservoir of wired consumer demand seeking high energy outlets like an auto show experience after being homebound for days by the blizzard. Teamwork was the watch word, Pomerance said, praising communications effort colleagues to include Bonnie Mor_t, who handled the Media Room and celebrity appearances; Angelica Boiteux and Exit10 on social media; Mike Mosko with Voice Media, who leveraged the media buy for extra spots during the blizzard and into the show; the entire August Lang & Husak creative staff; and the photography crew headed up by Joe McCary.Download Bulletin PDF