Best of Chickasaw Country
Chickasaw Country is a regional tourism organization encompassing more than 7,600 square miles and represents 13 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. Chickasaw Country promotes festivals, events and attractions and is led by the Chickasaw Nation to promote tourism efforts in the south-central region of Oklahoma. As a very diverse and cultural destination, Chickasaw Country has new adventures around every corner.
Chickasaw Country hosts an annual fan-based voting poll called Best of Chickasaw Country, which allows fans to nominate and vote for their favorite businesses, attractions and restaurants in Chickasaw Country. The fourth annual Best of Chickasaw Country poll took place in 2016 and included 14 categories, a bump from the previous years’ category count of 10.
Best of Chickasaw Country is broken into two phases. During the 2016 nominations phase in January, fans were encouraged to visit the Chickasaw Country website to nominate their favorite local businesses and attractions. The top five nominations in each category moved on to the finalists round in February. During the second stage, fans were again encouraged to vote for their favorites from each category. The finalist in each category with the most votes was deemed the winner. Winners were announced on March 1 on the Chickasaw Country website.
Chickasaw Country wanted to build awareness as a premier cultural tourism destination in Oklahoma. The challenges identified by Koch Communications included promoting the experiential distinctiveness of visiting Chickasaw Country, highlighting the many businesses, attractions and restaurants in Chickasaw Country and promoting travel to Chickasaw Country during the months outside of the region’s typical tourism season. Additionally, Chickasaw Country hoped to increase engagement on all digital media platforms, grow the brand persona and garner earned media.
Koch Comm sought to exceed Chickasaw Country’s public relations and digital media goals by creating engaging digital media content, newsworthy media communication and effective internal communications regarding the Best of Chickasaw Country promotion and campaign. The public relations and digital media team at Koch Comm used the Best of Chickasaw Country competition to build Chickasaw Country’s email database, highlight featured artists at tourism centers and broaden the exposure of new places to stay, dine, shop and explore in Chickasaw Country.
Typically, tourism season in Chickasaw Country is March through November. Coordinating and promoting Best of Chickasaw Country in January and February, and announcing the winners in March was a strategic way to re-engage the audience, reminding them of the destinations they may not have visited in a few months and make them aware of new tourism destinations in Chickasaw Country.
The Koch Comm team collaborated with local and regional media, as well as engaged the many facilities the Chickasaw Nation owns and operates to announce the opening of the nomination and finalist periods and to announce the winners. Businesses and attractions nominated for Best of Chickasaw Country were featured on social media, on the Chickasaw Country website, in press releases and in the Chickasaw Country monthly newsletters.
Various social media tactics were strategically implemented to increase awareness for voting in the Best of Chickasaw Country polls. Additionally, community partners were asked to participate in a Best of Chickasaw Country Twitter Takeover to ensure diversity in awareness for different tourist attractions, restaurants and businesses. This also increased engagement with the Chickasaw Country audience across channels.
The three-month long Best of Chickasaw Country campaign produced impressive results:
– Total earned media coverage through press releases and pitches: $10,927.75 (20 percent increase over the previous year)
– Total Facebook growth for Chickasaw Country: 10.8 percent
– Total Twitter Growth for Chickasaw Country: 3.3 percent
– Average daily reach on Facebook for Chickasaw Country: 53,696
– When Best of Chickasaw Country was featured in the Chickasaw Country email newsletter, the open rate was almost 6 percent higher than the industry average
– The number of nominee submissions increased by 93.88 percent from the previous year – showing increased awareness of the Best of Chickasaw Country campaign and nominations process.