RAWLINS – Every year, the Wyoming Office of Tourism promotes Wyoming in several ways: There is the traditional effort to draw tourists to the state, but there is also a campaign for “earned media,” or the chance to be featured in well-read magazines and media content across the nation.
This attention can bring visitors — and necessary tourism dollars — to Wyoming. It is for this reason that the Carbon County Visitors Council excitedly welcomed crews from Sports Illustrated Swimsuit to the region in October of 2019, and last week, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue featuring Southeastern Wyoming locations hit newsstands.
“Just like paid ads, earned media coverage, such as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Destination segments, provide reputable and organic anecdotes (and) experiences for potential travelers to explore,” Piper Singer, public relations and media manager for the Wyoming Office of Tourism said.
Magazine features can lead to further research into Wyoming, she said, and even visitors.
“Paid ads and earned media work together to generate an incremental boost in visit intent, with the combination of paid ad and earned exposure lifting likelihood of visiting Wyoming,” Singer said.
In October of 2019, the SI Swimsuit crew and models started at the Brush Creek Ranch Collection but took photos and video at other Carbon County locations. Each Sports Illustrated Swimsuit online feature earns 9,824,934 unique impressions and $435,834.07 in editorial value, while social content is shared to more than 2.1 million followers on Instagram, Singer said.
Along with the SI Swimsuit photos, articles, and videos, the publication also produced SI Swimsuit destination content for its travel series. Saratoga was featured with in-depth FAQ and gallery of images, highlighting it as a popular destination for outdoor recreation activities including hot springs, birdwatching and hiking. The feature highlights Medicine Bow National Forest, downtown Saratoga’s quintessential charm and Western heritage and various lodging recommendations.
The Sports Illustrated production crew contacted Brush Creek Ranch to host their 2020 shoot, and was interested in going off-property to highlight local destinations, Singer explained. Brush Creek Ranch contacted the Wyoming Office of Tourism to support activity recommendations for the crew.
SI Swimsuit also released a video from Firewater Public House featuring a cocktail recipe for a “Wyoming Rattlesnake” drink.
“We pitched Saratoga and Laramie as the perfect destinations to experience western charm. SI absolutely loved both locations and from there, we worked with the Carbon County Visitors' Council and Visit Laramie to provide story ideas and activities,” she said.
Wyoming’s 2019 paid campaign alone generated $1.6 billion in visitor spending to the state and an additional 1.29 million visitors. Also in 2019, visitor spending directly affected Wyoming’s economy by generating $203 million in local and state tax revenue. Each Wyoming household would pay approximately $871 more in taxes without the tax revenue generated by the travel and tourism industry.
“Tourists are incredibly important to our Carbon County economy each year,” Leslie Jefferson, CEO of the Carbon County Visitors’ Council said.
In 2019, Carbon County welcomed 870,000 overnight visitors. Domestic and international travelers spent $205.9 million in Carbon County which generated $10.6 million in travel generated taxes. Travel generated taxes support all of Carbon County’s communities through public services and local infrastructure projects.
“The earned media that we will receive from Sports Illustrated Swimsuit selected Brush Creek Ranch as their 2020 location is tremendously valuable, and will definitely pique interest in traveling to our great state and southeast Wyoming,” Jefferson said.
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit “Destination: Saratoga, Wyoming” is a great piece that will produce trust and confirmation in Carbon County, Jefferson said.
“Carbon County is not just a pass through on the way to somewhere, but an authentic Wyoming vacation destination,” she said.