Miami-based agency NewmanPR has received the Gold Award in Bulldog Reporter’s 2021 Bulldog PR Awards competition in the Best Green/Environmental/Sustainability Campaign Category for the “Connect & Protect” communications initiative created for the Florida Keys tourism council. The only PR awards program judged exclusively by professional journalists, the Bulldog Awards recognize excellence in corporate communications and public relations.
NewmanPR launched the “Connect & Protect” initiative to position the Florida Keys island chain as a global leader in responsible, sustainable tourism. The theme emphasizes both the tangible and intangible values of a Florida Keys vacation while motivating visitors to include experiential, transformational, environmental and voluntourism activities in their vacations. “Connect & Protect” ran throughout 2019-20 and continues in 2020-21 and for the foreseeable future.
“The NewmanPR team implemented the holistic ‘Connect & Protect’ campaign into every element of the Florida Keys’ communication program,” said Stacey Mitchell, director of the Monroe County (Florida Keys) Tourist Development Council. “The campaign has been highly effective in raising awareness of the need to protect the Keys’ fragile environment and encouraging visitors to take an active role in preserving our natural resources for future generations.”
“Winning a Gold Bulldog Award testifies to the hard work, dedication and creativity of our communications teams in the United States, Canada and Europe,” said Andy Newman, president of NewmanPR. “Despite the significant challenges to travel and tourism the pandemic presented, our team doggedly implemented the ‘Connect & Protect’ theme into every facet of our communications and it will likely remain a cornerstone of our PR program for many years to come.”
The campaign built upon the Keys’ environmental protection movement, which dates back more than a century, since the Key West National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1908. Other milestones include the creation of the National Key Deer Refuge in 1957, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park —America’s first underwater park — in 1963 and the 2,800-square-nautical-mile Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in 1990.
The “Connect & Protect” campaign’s target audience was the 4 million annual international and domestic visitors to the Florida Keys & Key West. Implementation of the campaign included promotions by a seven-person domestic team and international affiliate PR agencies to spotlight sustainable Keys travel offerings and natural eco-experiences to global media. Included were “Connect & Protect” themed media research trips, videos, a consumer contest, a new website section, a Keys Traveler print magazine and eco-themed electronic newsletters.
The Newman agency also created and legally trademarked the “Connect & Protect” tagline and logo.
A key campaign element was the creation of a one- hour syndicated television program, “Florida Keys: Protecting Paradise,” produced with Crawford Productions, showcasing the Keys’ sustainability movement. “Protecting Paradise” featured Keys residents who illustrate their passion for and commitment to the Keys’ environment and close-to-nature lifestyle. The show debuted Dec. 29, 2019, on Discovery Channel, WGN America, Fox Sun Sports and Discover Florida. A 30-minute version of the show subsequently aired on more than 250 PBS stations, while the original program is currently available on multiple leading streaming apps.
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