Public Relations: KENNEDY SPACE VISITOR CENTER COMPLEX PR SUCCESS

Public Relations: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex PR Success

CHALLENGE

With the winding down of NASA’s space program and the mass layoffs at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC) struggled with the message to alert the public that it was still open, and indeed, welcoming guests. Research conducted by the Visitor Complex had indicated that the general public was not aware of the difference between the NASA federal government-run portion of the facility and the privately run public and educational visitor complex.

Declining numbers and poor media awareness regarding new exhibits, activities, tours and initiatives contributed to the public’s confusion.

Bitner Group was brought on-board by Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts at KSC Inc., a division of Delaware North Companies, one of the world’s leading hospitality and food service providers, to serve as an extension of its public relations department. We were challenged to change public perception and raise awareness for the Visitor Complex’s 50th anniversary activities that included two new tours, promote limited opportunities to see retired space shuttles in previously off-limit areas, assist with private sector launch activity/publicity and build momentum for the new Atlantis Shuttle exhibit to open in July 2013.

OBJECTIVES

  • Reinforce the “open for business” message through press releases and targeted informational pitches to key national and international media, bloggers and the public
  • Maintain top-of-mind awareness by positioning KSCVC as a “must-see” thrilling attraction in the Central Florida area with new rare tours and exhibits to bring visitors closer-than-ever to where space history was made.
  • Build momentum for activities leading up to the space shuttle Atlantis’ final journey and eventual unveiling of the Atlantis – Celebrate the Journey exhibit in July 2013. Key to this objective was making the public aware that this would be the historic last movement of the last flown space shuttle anywhere in the world.
  • Develop an international, local and regional distribution of interested media
  • Generate positive editorial coverage for private-sector launches and KSCV related activities
  • Operate as an extension of the public relations department at KSCV assisting with media tours, fams and on-site presence at other key initiatives

STRATEGY AND ACTION

The Bitner Group team developed a comprehensive international database of media including travel, lifestyle, space/science, business and blogger media in KSCVC’s top tourist markets. Key releases were translated into the countries’ native languages to increase pick-up. Top regional media, space/science writers and mom bloggers were identified and invited to an extremely limited series of preview events to report on the special tours and behind-the-scenes stories of the exhibit in progress.

swspirit RESULTS

In less than four months, the Bitner Group team placed hundreds of traditional print, online and broadcast hits stateside and internationally announcing KSCV’s 50th anniversary year activities and new tours. These included CNN, USA Today, the Miami Herald, United Kingdom bloggers and trade publications. On-site coverage and behind-the-scenes sneak peeks arranged by Bitner Group with local Central Florida TV affiliates ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX went national on several occasions and was rebroadcast on the Top 10 market affiliates in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Atlanta, among others.

Based on our success, the agency has been retained by Delaware North Companies for 2013 for the grand opening of the space shuttle Atlantis exhibit and new scheduled attractions.

And, as a direct result of our industry knowledge and positive track record, Bitner Group was contracted for additional projects for Delaware North Companies including the high profile grand opening of the country’s first Food Network Kitchen at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.