Exhibiting at a tradeshow like Outdoor Retailer is a serious investment for any-sized outdoor company. So it only makes sense to maximize EVERY marketing and media opportunity that presents itself, right?

Enter the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market PR Toolkit, to help you do just that.

As always, the Toolkit will help you navigate:

•    Obtaining a copy of the Winter Market media list
•    Uploading electronic press kits to the Paperless Press Room
•    Submitting news and event information to the OR Daily
•    Prepping your show staff to work with the media
•    Sponsorship and advertising opportunities, etc.

In case you (or your client) is in need of convincing, check out a couple relevant results from our most recent OR Attending Media Survey.

Seventy-seven percent of survey media said they used exhibitor press kit materials from outdoorretailer.com in their coverage of the show or in news stories during the year.

“Please encourage vendors to make their press kits available on thumb drives. The days of enthusiastic, large format, paper press kits are over.”

“The more press kits the better; these are an excellent way to identify items of interest before the show.”

Media expressed frustration with exhibitors who lacked information on their profile or failed to respond to media meeting requests. One example would be:

“I requested meetings and info from many people who did not respond and I believe it was because they simply did not use the website tools.”

Not sure which exhibitors were missing these invites but I guarantee you don’t want it to be you or one of your clients. Log in and use those Planner Tools!

Lastly, several media mentioned how much they appreciate when exhibitors provided additional samples, food and  beverages in the Press Room. Do you want to get samples of your latest goo or nutrition bar into the hands of media? Consider bringing free (no strings attached) samples to the press room for attending media. Wanna spring for special seating, a meal or happy hour? Contact your OR account executive for pricing.

As always, we’re here to help you get the most for your every trade show dollar!

Chip Smith, csmith@soarcomm.com, 801.656.0472 x1

Maura Lansford, mlansford@soarcomm.com, 801.656.0472 x2

Alex Strickland, astrickland@soarcomm.com, 801.656.0472 x3

Until this year, the last time I’d ridden a bike in anger was during a brief mountain bike racing career during high school in the South, where cycling was about as common as sushi restaurants.

But after a little dabbling (and a friendly shove) in triathlon last year, I signed up for a few local races during the summer to see if I was made of tough enough stuff. After decent results, overconfidence and some dubious well-wishers convinced me to sign up for the Utah XTERRA Off Road Triathlon, by far the hardest race I’d ever attempted.

I’m always amazed at the vast range of people who show up to compete in local races, whether a 5k fun run or a competitive sprint triathlon. XTERRA didn’t disappoint. For every chiseled, rippling hammerhead (Hi, Lance!), there were half a dozen housewives, desk jockeys (your’s truly) and senior citizens.

There’s a special inspiration in seeing the pros, to just stand there slack-jawed at their speed and appreciate truly exceptional talent. But I come away from events like this motivated for the next early morning run or cold swim by the people who find the time to make themselves into athletes in the margins of their “real life,” something that requires a passion for sport that I don’t always possess.

While cursing my lack of commitment to training during a particularly brutal climb along the run course, a steady stream of competitors blew past with their age group stamped prominently on their muscled calves. As cramps turned my legs into knotted lava, a woman motored by and threw some encouraging words in my direction. On her calf was “60″ and on my face, I’m sure, was self-loathing followed immediately by immense respect.

For the next 12 months, each a time a morning bagel sounds better than a morning run, I’ll have turbo granny front and center in my mind to get me out the door. And not because I want to beat her (I do, though), but because I can think of nothing more motivating than enjoying that kind of fitness when I’m 35, much less 60.

Later, I was sucking down orange slices along the finish straight, a guy in his 30s who was at least 70 pounds overweight came across the line. Clearly hurting, the big guy walked over to a waiting group of friends and family and loudly declared “That was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done!”

I couldn’t agree more. See you next year.

Interbike is RIGHT around the corner and the SOAR Communications team is running at full steam. In addition to our work assisting attending media and helping exhibitors maximize exposure during the Interbike show, we added a number of new clients to our roster.

We’ve had a blast jumping in and learning about new products in a market we already know and love.

So, by way of introduction…

Gyrobike believes in the freedom to ride for all. The company’s bicycle products deliver high stability at low speed to help keep the rider upright. The rider learns correct riding technique and enjoys a safer, easier and faster learning experience that is more effective than training wheels. While the company’s current focus is providing children’s products, it plans to release larger models designed for all ages and abilities. All Gyrobike products are designed in the United States. Gyrobike was founded in 2007 and its technology was developed at Dartmouth College.  The company is headquartered in San Francisco, Calif., U.S. www.thegyrobike.com. Interbike Booth #13151.

The 2011 Sea Otter Classic, “A Celebration of Cycling,” will be held April 14-17, 2011 at Laguna Seca Recreation Area, Monterey, Calif. This four-day, action-packed cycling festival features a full schedule of amateur and professional events, as well as other activities for family members of all ages. The Sea Otter Classic also plays host to the largest consumer bike exposition in North America.

Made entirely in Italy, Vittoria’s shoes range from the most technologically advanced road racing shoes to mountain bike shoes for racers and enthusiasts to casual, trendy shoes for leisure riding.  Available in combinations of 27 lengths, four widths and a multi-length option (for riders with different size feet), Vittoria can also custom-build any shoe and ship quickly because all manufacturing occurs at the same Italian facility. Interbike Booth 15088

Sponsored by the Bicycle Product Supplier Association, this three-day event draws together the top executives of the bicycle industry for an intensive program of panels, receptions, and discussions to determine how to improve the industry’s overall business climate. The event includes the annual BRAINy Awards, sponsored by Bicycle Industry and Retailer News, to recognize excellence in the bike business. The event is held in tandem with the Sea Otter Classic, held at the nearby Laguna Seca Raceway.

The Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) was founded in 1970 to promote Taiwan’s foreign trade and competitiveness in world markets. Over the past 40 years, TAITRA has played a key role in the development of Taiwan’s economy. TAITRA is jointly sponsored by the government as well as various commercial and industrial associations, and is viewed by all as the business gateway to Taiwan for the international business community.

All of the awesome companies listed above have a present at Interbike 2011. Come by and say “Hi.” We’d love to see you and give you a sneak peek at the latest and greatest from these manufacturers and events.


Head Over Heels for SOAR

It’s been a few weeks now, but there is no expiration date on embarrassment…

During the hiring process prior to joining SOAR, I did what any good job-hunter does. I Google-stalked the people who were interviewing me.

Along with twitter feeds, press releases and official website bios, I found a gem: Our intrepid leader, Chip, caught in full YouTube glory going over the bars in Fruita, Colo.

Let me say this…Aside from the single endo incident, Chip is insanely fast through Fruita’s technical terrain. He is also, as I found out over the President’s Day holiday, a very good skier.

SOAR staff headed up the hill to Deer Valley Resort as a belated reward following January’s Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. The snow was excellent, the crowds thinned as the day went on and the sun even managed to poke through a few times.

However, Chip and I had chosen the day to test out some GoPro Hero cameras. My pitiful level of midwinter fitness was sure to trip me up, and as the day went on and my legs turned to noodles, the inevitable embarrassing wipeout occurred.

So in an effort to cancel out the bad karma I earned chuckling at Chip’s misfortune, here for the internet’s viewing pleasure is a crash of my own.


Grown Ups Need Spring Break, Too

Spring Break trips shouldn’t be limited to college kids who want to toss out the text books and get some…sun. When the opportunity to take a quick “Spring Break” trip to Moab presented itself, I couldn’t pass it up.

Disclaimer: Without turning this into a family vaca post for grandma, I do have to mention that I was joined by my two favorite sidekicks, husband Cole and son Crew. Luckily, they love being outside as much as I do.

The non agenda, agenda included an amazing breakfast at the Love Muffin Cafe (thanks for the recommendation @adventuretykes), hiking Negro Bill Canyon/Natural Arch, pizza buffet at @ZaxMoab, buying dirt shirts on Main and a morning ride on the Potash-Lower Colorado River scenic byway.

We couldn’t be happier with our hike through Negro Bill Canyon. The trail is pretty popular and came as a recommendation from the guys at Poison Spider bike shop.

The path followed a tiny stream through a deep sandstone canyon for several miles. The weather was perfect and since the path crossed the stream several times, we kept nice and cool.

About 5 miles in, we reached a natural stone arch called Morning Glory Natural Bridge. In Googling it after the fact, I learned that the arch is 243 feet which makes it the sixth largest span for an arch in the country. Feel smarter? I know, me too. Low key for Arches but amazing still.

As beautiful as the arch was, we were equally jazzed about the natural spring trickling out of a giant crack in the canyon wall. With fellow hikers, we climbed up and used our bottle caps to get a taste of the cold water inside.

On our way back, I couldn’t help but love the instant community that exists outdoors. During the hike we stopped to pet at least 25 “puppies,” received no fewer than 10 compliments on our beautiful baby,  engaged in two genuine chats with perfect strangers and were stopped by three moms-of-grownup-babies who were envious of our amazing kid carrier.

We all just love being outside, nothing fancy to it. Even when we are all really different, it makes us the same.

Oh really? You’re dying to see a picture of the cutest child in the world enjoying nature? Ok… If you insist…


Modern Exploration and Media

As a true-blue Lewis and Clark nerd, I could make pocket protector-worthy Twitter “what-if” jokes all day:

CaptWClark: msquitos unbearable, shoot me pls

CaptLewis: jrnl update: rivr forks. Lft or rt? @Anyone

Sacjwe: @CaptLews @CaptWClark Seriously guys?

For modern explorers, Facebook, Twitter, blog posts, online videos and podcasts aren’t an option, they’re a necessity. To secure funding, sponsors and grant organizers want to see a return on their investment and a robust online presence and harnessing social media is the most effective way to do it.

Last night I had the pleasure of listening to my friend and world-class river rat Jeff Hazboun tell a packed House at the Swaner EcoCenter in Park City about The Kamchatka Project’s expedition to Russia’s Far East last summer.

Sponsored by a National Geographic Society Expeditions Council grant, a team of seven kayakers made several source-to-sea first descents, gathered scientific data on watersheds and fisheries, and explored some of the wildest terrain left on the planet.

Just across the Bering Sea from Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, the Kamchatka Peninsula is home to about a quarter of the world’s spawning salmon each year and one of the densest brown bear populations on the planet. Long an exclusive hunting ground for Russian czars and then an off-limits Cold War strategic site, the California-sized peninsula remains remarkably free from development. The volcanoes and lack of roads help too.

To fund the ambitious trip, The Kamchatka Project was sponsored by a who’s who of outdoor and paddlesports companies like Outdoor Research, Pyranha kayaks and Werner Paddles. But first, there was the granddaddy of sponsorships: The National Geographic Society’s support paved the way for other companies to jump on board knowing the expedition would receive plenty of attention.

To secure the Geographic grant, though, the team needed to show the value of the trip before, during and after the rivers were run. An expedition website provided quality education modules that teachers could use to give lessons on the geography, geology, wildlife and, of course, salmon of Kamchatka.

In addition, the team actively updated the site with planning and travel updates, contributed to National Geographic’s BlogWILD and promoted it with social media, Tweeting from satellite phones no matter how far off the grid they wandered. And while every member boasted the kayaking experience required for such an adventure, their “secondary” qualifications were no accident: PR professional, adventure filmmaker, photographer, designer, educator and scientist. Sure they were going to Kamchatka, but they were also equipped to bring a bit of it back for the rest of us with photos, video and status updates.

Not only is The Kamchatka Project’s media savvy a textbook example of how to get an expedition off the ground (literally, each helicopter flight ran the team upwards of $10,000), it’s a prime example of the power of good marketing. Whether you’re selling a product, running a non-profit or planning an expedition to the far reaches of the globe, the message is simple: Tell your story and tell it well. If it’s a good one, the rest will fall into place.

Colorado Representative Andy Kerr briefs Colorado Bicycle Summit attendees prior to sending them out to meet with their representatives in support of House Bill 1092.

Let’s get this out of the way right at the top: I’m not from Colorado. During two days of inspiration and advocacy at the Colorado Bicycle Summit last week Chip and I had to explain more than a few times that we Utahns were just along for the proverbial ride. In Denver to meet with Primal Wear. Lucky coincidence. Just interested, no real skin in the game in the cycling fights of the Centennial State. Or so I thought.

Though I’m a bit of a political junkie (I rubberneck at car accidents too…), I’ve never dabbled in any political advocacy because of my newspaper background. With objectivity always on the mind, I’ve tried to stay above the fray. So listening to the battles being waged in the state next door and what cycling advocacy groups like Bicycle Colorado are doing about it was a huge eye-opener.

Trek President John Burke gave a great talk at the summit, outlining how cycling can solve a lot of our country’s less attractive trends (traffic congestion, crowding, environmental issues and obesity) and how to get organized and make a difference.

The takeaway: Democracy is for the people who show up.

I can’t begin to count the number of public meetings I attended as a reporter where the only people there were the board members and me. When folks did show up, the elected officials were likely to listen, if for no other reason than to hear a voice besides their own.

It’s not easy to show up. Just like it’s not easy to wake up early for a run or hit the trainer when there’s a cold beer waiting in the fridge. But if you’re not there to fight for it, nothing gets said before a vote is cast that changes your life for the worse.

So consider this a belated New Year’s resolution: In 2011, whether it’s an email to my congressman, a community council meeting or, yes, bicycle advocacy, I’m going to do my best to show up. It wouldn’t kill me to hit those morning runs, either.


Local Love at Outdoor Retailer

If you’re looking to launch an outdoor product and you want to attract the most attention for your dollar, you better be budgeting for Outdoor Retailer.

Yes, as their agency of record, I am truly biased. I also know of what I speak. I know, because it is literally my job to help exhibitors get noticed.

At this year’s Winter Market, Outdoor Retailer was attended by well over 450 members of the media. From the 1,500 show-related tweets to the more than 3,000 show-related blog posts, people were clamoring to see (and post about) the latest and greatest gear, apparel and accessories from our exhibitors.

And if you think the online community was anxiously for updates, hold onto your beanie when it comes to the interest from local Utah media. Home to the best snow on earth and several thousand people who love to play in it, our local media partners were eating up the products, the sights and the culture of the outdoor industry.

Our media partners filmed multiple segments each day and couldn’t have been more thrilled with the products from exhibitors like adidas Outdoor, Columbia, Tubs, Easton, MSR, Teva, CWX, Alpacha of Montana, Schoeller, Timex, Zeal, Smith, Helly Hansen, Magellan, Spot Connect, Black Diamond, Back Country Access, Talus, Klymit, Outdoor Research, InForm Sports, Deuter, Camelbak, KOR, Freeline Skates, K2, Jetboil and many others.

A report compiled by local partner Visit Salt Lake, indicated Outdoor Retailer and/or its exhibitors were featured in local television news 90 times! That media coverage alone generated approximately $285,045 in calculated publicity value for our exhibitors.

So, long story short, OR is the place to be. And we only have 174 days til Summer Market!

Enjoy some local media clips from ABC 4’s Barb Smith and our morning segment with FOX 13’s Big Budah.

Outdoor Retailer show is back

Schoeller with Big Budah at OR Winter Market 2011

CamelBak, Deuter and Petzl with Big Budah at OR Winter Market 2011

Wow it’s been a whirlwind year. I haven’t posted anything to our blog in quite awhile. It’s a case of the contractor’s house is never done.

I bought the agency from my business partner a little over a year ago. It’s been a fun challenge managing all aspects of the agency, especially installing and dealing with server and VoIP issues, and setting up a new accounting system, etc. Not the things you want to deal with when your clients need your help.  Luckily, we made it through the year.

We lost our Assistant Account Executive, Elizabeth. Her husband graduated and they moved on to build their life elsewhere. Maura is still here working her butt off, being the agency’s right hand person and doing a great job. The Monday before Outdoor Retailer Winter Market we hired Alex, our newest account executive. We threw him into the fire and he came out unscathed and he still wants to work here (check out his post below).

So we’re looking forward to another year serving our clients and looking forward to serving many new ones in the Sports, Outdoor, Athletics and Recreation industries (Lately I’ve taken to telling people what SOAR stands for. Many of them didn’t know, so now you know too.).

Happy late New Year and welcome Alex,



Diving into the deep end

Local TV personality Big Budah gets a lesson in avalanche safety from Backcountry Access VP Bruce Edgerly in the early morning hours before the Outdoor Retailer Show opens.

The first thing that hits you at your first Outdoor Retailer Show is the uniform: Approach shoes, black fleece or puffy and a few days’ stubble for the guys. Cute skirt or jeans, subtly designed t-shirt and maybe a beanie for the ladies. Less business casual than Boulder coffee hut.

For the uninitiated it can be jarring to see so many similarly dressed — and let’s be honest, very good looking — folks streaming into the Salt Palace for the industry’s bi-annual pilgrimage to see the latest and greatest in the world of outdoor gear. And I’ll be frank, I was jarred. I’d joined SOAR just two days before the show and despite years spent loitering in gear shops and a few close calls with the full-blown dirtbag lifestyle; it was my first encounter with so much outdoor industry royalty in one place.

The industry has always seemed like a tough nut to crack. Everyone knows everyone, so unless you know someone, it’s an intimidating threshold to cross. Heck, I felt like I needed to borrow a Subaru just to get there (seriously, the road to Solitude for the All Mountain Demo was far too treacherous for my two wheel drive, that Subaru saved my bacon).

But here’s the thing, by lunchtime on Thursday I realized I’d mistaken insular for tight-knit. Clannish for inter-connected. Occasionally overzealous for, well, I wasn’t entirely wrong on that one. It takes a unique group of people to get worked up over advances in the latest fabric laminate. Within hours I’d been taken in, having great chats with everyone from the fabulous OR staff (<- maybe just a bit of brown-nosing our client here :-) ) to Montana alpaca ranchers to the founders of some of the oldest, most respected brands in the book. By Saturday night, I found myself across the table from social media wizard Sara Lingafelter (RockClimberGirl!) thoroughly engrossed in a conversation about what disciplines drive the outdoor culture conversation.

Walking back to my car on Sunday I couldn’t help but wonder: How the hell did this happen? An industry I didn’t think let outsiders in had me feeling like I’d been there all along. Yes, people come to OR to buy and sell. It is an industry, after all. But there’s a certain silent acknowledgement that once all the paperwork is pushed and the deals are done, there’s something we all completely agree on. We’d rather be outside.

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