Written by PollackPRMktg on July 29, 2011.
Caryn Eaves oversees and provides strategic direction to the Tournament President and Executive Committee, in-house public relations department and its agency-of-record for public relations counsel. She has been instrumental in launching marketing and promotional events designed to heighten the Tournament of Roses worldwide interest including an award-winning website and the lively media announcements that have become a key aspect of the Rose Parade. Eaves also oversees the writing and publication of all media materials and serves as an official media spokesperson for the Tournament of Roses. In addition, she is the staff liaison for many of the Tournament’s volunteer committees that incorporate public relations aspects including Queen and Court and Television & Radio.
Q. What role does PR play in the shaping of the Tournament of Roses Parade brand?
A. Public Relations has everything to do with the Tournament of Roses brand. The festival actually began in 1890 as a public relations tool to lure visitors from the mid-West to visit Pasadena and purchase property. The newly settled Midwestern transplants used the parade as a means to show the world that they had roses blooming in January while their friends were frozen in their homes.
Today, the brand has taken on a life of its own. It is a world-renowned festival known as the largest New Year’s Day parade. Watching it has become an annual tradition for many American families. The main public relations tactics used today are focused on protecting the brand and working to keep it evolving and remain relevant to today’s audiences.
Q. The Rose Parade has developed a sizeable international following over the past few decades, what are some key differences in the role that PR plays when dealing with the influx of international media interested in sharing the the New Year’s Day tradition with an international audience?
A. Aside from language and geographical barriers, working with international media is not much different than working with the domestic media. As most outlets are, international media outlets are interested in their local angle. Members of the media from Asian countries generally like to focus on entries with Asian angles just as Latin-American media focus on the entries with a Latin-American angle. We do our best to accommodate every request, but sometimes the best tactic is to provide our list of entries with press contacts and let the media choose what is most interesting to them.
Q. While the Parade has always been a social experience, the rise of social media has added a new layer to the experience. How has the Tournament of Roses leveraged social media to improve the viewer experience?
A. The Tournament of Roses has many moving arms. The association is made up of 935 volunteer members divided in 31 committees each responsible for a certain piece of the festival. We have a small support staff, which the PR department is a part of. An organization with so many moving arms is difficult to mobilize into one joint effort, but we have managed to create a social presence for both the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game. We’ve found that fans of the Rose Parade and Game use the social media venues as a place to create a community and share memories. Social media helps create dialog between our fans and brings out the brand’s evangelists.
We are definitely looking further into additional social media offerings and looking to our audiences to see what they prefer. If no one is
interested in watching a live webstream with no commentary, we won’t put effort into producing an additional broadcast when the ones provided by KTLA and our other broadcasters make our audiences perfectly happy.
Q. The Rose Parade began as a promotional effort by Pasadena’s distinguished Valley Hunt Club to promote Southern California’s mild climate at a time of the year when a large portion of the country is experiencing winter weather. Nearly 123 years later, what message does the Rose Parade communicate today?
A. The Rose Parade is annually seen as message of hope and new beginnings. Even through difficult times of war and economic crisis, when it was questioned whether the Rose Parade would be seen as a waste of roses and flowers, the parade was never cancelled. Instead of being seen as a frivolity, the public sees the Rose Parade as a symbol of hope and community.
Adam Carolla, recapped it nicely for us… “When you watch the Rose Parade, it really makes you think all is good in the world. There are different cultures, different colors, different religions, different ethnicities, different EVERYTHIHNGS, but everyone is just marching together to celebrate. The jets are flying overhead, the bands are playing, and everyone is decked out and looks good. It’s always a spectacular day. The streets are clean, there’s no graffiti and you think, ‘Yes! The Rose Parade! This is our country. This is what we do.’”
The Rose Parade is a major, world-wide festival organized by volunteers. Each float is decorated by volunteers. Communities get together to raise money for their floats or to send their bands to Pasadena. It is truly a symbol of people working together for a common cause.
From a commercial standpoint, the Rose Parade provides corporate sponsors a united and positive message to align their brand to.
Q. The 2012 Rose Parade is scheduled for January 2nd, due to The Tournament of Roses policy of never holding the Parade on a Sunday. Are there any challenges in terms of keeping interest in the Rose Parade in those years when it does not occur on New Year’s Day?
A. Most businesses also close on the second when January first is on a Sunday. It isn’t as difficult to move the Parade over as one would
think. From a positive standpoint, viewers are not as likely to be up late celebrating the New Year the night before and we may have a larger early morning audience. The extra day also provides more time for decorating floats.