OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Department of Tourism & Business Development announced this week it has been honored with the “Best Media and Public Relations Campaign” award at the Maryland Tourism and Travel Summit for its “Catch a Ride” program.
The program was designed to assist travelers in selecting the ideal vacation destination, coinciding with the launch of the department’s new brand platform, “Somewhere to Smile About.”
The “Catch a Ride” program, featuring a customized 1970’s iconic VW beach van, embarked on a mobile tour from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia and Baltimore, kicking off on National Road Trip Day (May 26) and continuing through Memorial Day weekend. This first-of-its-kind initiative for the tourism office positioned Ocean City as a friendly, carefree destination, encouraging travelers to pack up their cars for the ultimate summer trip to Ocean City.
To generate awareness of each event in advance of a crowded holiday weekend, the team executed a hardworking public relations strategy that included a program launch and media preview in Ocean City, global news release, event and lifestyle media pitches and media alerts to invite local media to visit the tour. These efforts resulted in an impressive 176 million media impressions, seven unique placements and an earned media value of $1.6 million.
“We are honored to receive this prestigious award for our ‘Catch a Ride’ program,” stated Tom Perlozzo, Director of Ocean City Tourism. “This achievement is a testament to the dedication and creativity of our team, along with our partners at BVK, in promoting Ocean City as a must-visit destination. We believe in creating experiences that resonate with travelers, and ‘Catch a Ride’ perfectly embodies the spirit of our new brand platform, ‘Somewhere to Smile About.'”
The public relations strategy complemented a media plan that encompassed social media, mobile billboards, radio and influencer marketing and earned Ocean City over 275 million impressions. All efforts supported traffic to the mobile tour, encouraging nearly 5,000 Mid-Atlantic residents to enter for their chance to “Catch a Ride” to Ocean City and other prizes.
Beyond quantitative metrics, the campaign garnered qualitative success and gratitude from event attendees, residents, and local businesses. The positive response has sparked anticipation for the next phase of “Catch a Ride.”