Vermont Parks Forever: How a Marketing Plan Grew Event Excitement

A strong public relations (PR) strategy is essential to bring attention to an event. Without a plan, you may be missing your target audience. 

"Thoughtful, responsive service is what we get from the team at LONDONmiddlebury! They are patient and flexible with the needs of our small organization and provide the skilled extra set of hands we often need in a pinch. They are deeply committed to the success of their clients- we are grateful!"

- Sarah Alberghini Winters, Vermont Parks Forever Executive Director

Hooking the right audience

Founded in 2013, Vermont Parks Forever is a nonprofit that provides park access and educational opportunities to continue Vermont’s tradition of support for conservation, recreation, public health, and natural beauty.  

Vermont Parks Forever issued a request for proposal (RFP) for a campaign to promote the first nature center restoration project as a part of their Natural Connections program. Their main goal was to increase awareness of the project, drive interest in the grand re-opening event, and encourage the public to visit the restored nature center in the future. 

Creating harmonious, intentional messaging

File (1)The Groton State Forest is home to seven Vermont State Parks. A beloved area to many Vermonters and beyond, the restoration of the Groton Nature Center brought interactive learning opportunities highlighting Groton’s natural and cultural history. Vermont Parks Forever selected this nature center as the first to restore because it’s the only admission-free nature center in the state. Sticking to their initiative to “enhance educational opportunities across the state park system,” it made the most sense to restore a nature center that was accessible for everyone. 

We developed a PR campaign leading up to the opening of the nature center to reach and inform Vermonters and visitors alike. This included media releases, a media kit, newspaper ads, and graphic design for event promotion.

Media Kit

VPF-1-1A major goal for this PR campaign was to attract media coverage of the project and the event. Since the Natural Connections program involves many key partners and important initiatives, a media kit was a valuable component of our media package to provide easy access to all relevant and accurate information. Our aim was to remove all barriers to information to increase the likelihood of media coverage. In addition to serving as a media resource, this kit functioned as an informational and promotional tool to educate the public on the nature center upgrades, get them invested in the project’s success, attract volunteers, and obtain funding.

Media Releases

We advised a calendar with four media releases, including a project announcement, opening date announcement, event announcement, and a post-event success story. Approaching the event, we wrote and distributed several media releases to a curated list of media contacts across the state of Vermont. 

Newspaper AdsIMG_1405

The media releases and media kit targeted news outlets in an effort to earn coverage of our story. With the addition of the newspaper ads, we could speak directly to the general public  to attract event attendees. The most important consideration for the newspaper ads was determining which newspapers would get the ads in front of people who’d be likely to attend. So, we put them in The Bridge Weekly, targeting Groton residents, and Seven Days, one of the most popular news outlets in the state. We designed the ad using the nonprofit’s branding and strategically made the name of the event, the date, and the time the most prominent pieces of the ad. When a reader became engaged with that information, their eye naturally traveled to the details and the QR code for easy access to the Groton Nature Center landing page. VPF (2)-1

Event Invitations

VPF (1)-1What’s a party without invitations? Vermont Parks Forever had a list of contacts they wanted to reach out to directly with invitations, so we got to work designing branded cards. The purpose of these invites was to appeal to specific stakeholders and friends of the organization who had an established connection. Recipients were essentially the “inside circle,” who were likely to attend the event. With an explicit ask to RSVP, the nonprofit also determined a rough estimate of the amount of people who would be in attendance.

Impact: a well-attended and well-covered opening day

C2AF8F8F-F067-480D-95DC-D02572CB27F0 (1)As a result of collaborative PR efforts, the Groton Nature Center opening day event got picked up by several local television stations and local newspapers, including WCAX and the Waterbury Roundabout. These stories helped the event get more attraction. Cars were lining the street and hundreds of people attended the event on opening day— they even ran out of tote bags and stickers to give away because there was a full house! What’s more, locals and park visitors of all ages learned about the story of human relationships with nature in Vermont, encouraging an appreciation for and fostering responsible stewardship of the state’s natural resources.

Through communal celebration of our shared natural treasures, this event cultivated enduring support for establishing life-long connections between park visitors and the natural world.

Want to support Vermont Parks Forever's work on behalf of Vermont State Parks? Check out their website at (another project we are proud to have collaborated with their team on!).

Looking to market your next event? Tell us about it!

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