Indiana University students create promotional materials for county tourism campaign
Orange County tourism agency partners with public relations students to develop materials for a campaign centered around the 2024 solar eclipse
CommunityVisit French Lick West Baden, French Lick, IN
Community Size19,646 (2019 Census Estimation)
ProgramSustaining Hoosier Communities
Case TypeIndividual Project
DisciplinePublic Relations, Writing
RegionEPA Region 5, USA
Orange County is a rural southern Indiana county comprising four incorporated towns and a number of unincorporated communities. Residents are intent on celebrating the county’s industrial roots, natural beauty, and historic architecture while embracing and preparing for the future. Local progress is driven in large part by “grassroots cooperative leadership” (Report, Pg. 4), while legal and medical non-profits provide essential communal services. This community-oriented mentality lends itself to innovative partnerships between various actors working towards common goals in areas like infrastructure, culture, tourism, and healthcare.
An impending solar eclipse presents a unique promotional opportunity
French Lick and West Baden are adjacent resort communities located in Orange County. Local offerings include historic hotels, “an indoor water park, horseback trail rides, carriage rides, nature trails, and scenic boat cruises” (VFLWB). Visit French Lick West Baden, the community’s tourism agency, hosts events and creates promotional campaigns and branded content to attract yearly visitors to the region. When it was announced that the area would be in the 2024 solar eclipse’s path of totality, the agency saw unique promotional potential in the astronomical event.
Students highlight regional offerings with eclipse viewing front and center
With the help of the Sustaining Hoosier Communities (SHC) program at Indiana University, Visit French Lick West Baden began laying the groundwork for the upcoming event. The tourism agency partnered with Elaine Monaghan’s Public Relations Writing course in the IU Media School. Monaghan’s students, collaborating with community partner Kristal Painter, worked to create promotional content which advertised the eclipse while incorporating the viewing into a larger tourism program in the surrounding time period.
A campaign to draw crowds
Student participants produced public relations materials including a feature story about the 2024 eclipse, a short book about the county with relevant local tourism information, and a drone video showing landscapes and resorts. This project challenged public relations students to build a unique campaign, leveraging one regional attraction in order to promote multiple others. With a strong foundation and ample advanced planning, the event promises to be a success for French Lick and West Baden and the Orange County economy.
Tourism organizers and project participants alike saw opportunity in the coming eclipse. Their efforts on this project represent the creativity and spirit of the greater community. The upcoming event is sure to introduce newcomers to Orange County’s natural beauty and unique charm.
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