Driving Membership and Raising Awareness for AAA of Southern New England Programs

Driving Membership and Raising Awareness for AAA of Southern New England Programs

Situation Analysis

AAA is a not-for-profit automobile club with 47 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire, providing more than three million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services. While most consumers are aware of AAA’s roadside assistance and local discount benefits enjoyed by members, the association wanted to raise public awareness for AAA’s new identity theft protection member benefit, AAA Bicycle Assistance and AAA Travel Marketplace.

Schneider Associates (SA) was retained to create and implement media relations campaigns to garner memberships for AAA Southern New England, drive brand awareness and increase awareness for the programs and benefits offered by AAA.

Program Planning & Strategy

SA’s strategy was designed to raise public awareness for AAA’s new identity theft protection member benefit, AAA Bicycle Assistance and AAA Travel Marketplace through a regional media relations program. SA pitched story ideas focusing on six categories: travel, travel marketplace, financial services, insurance, public affairs and membership. Additionally, SA offered AAA strategic counsel on advertising opportunities that would augment the earned media strategy.

Strategy & Execution

For the Travel Marketplace in March, SA recommended a mix of earned media relations and paid media relations. SA secured an opportunity with WBZ Newsradio, which resulted in over one million earned media impressions and also arranged for 26 paid placements with other local radio stations, resulting in 8,846,600 consumer impressions.

Additionally, SA secured a placement with WJAR-TV NBC Providence, which has an audience of over 13.9 million listeners. The station also published an article online about the security breach that affected 2.6 million cards used at Michaels Stores Inc. The piece introduced a new AAA member service that provides access to alerts about unusual purchases. It also featured insights from AAA Senior Vice President Mary Wyatt about the importance of privacy protection.

SA developed and placed a story with 119 local Patch news websites that highlighted the AAA Bicycle Assistance program, resulting in over one million impressions. The stories encouraged readers to “ditch the car” for National Bike Month and included tips for bicycle safety. It also featured Mary Wyatt’s recommendations of the best bike trails in Massachusetts and outlined the AAA Southern New England’s Bicycle Roadside Assistance program as a helpful resource for New England bicyclists.

Key Strategies

Media Relations: SA pitched story angles to broadcast and print outlets in AAA’s key territories —Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. SA worked with the AAA team to secure all the background information required to write press materials, key messages and customized pitches. SA aimed to increase visibility across all AAA business lines by building relationships with local and regional print, online and broadcast media. By positioning AAA’s spokespeople as experts and targeting the right media influencers, SA was able to promote AAA’s credibility in the space.

SA worked with Synaptic Digital and AAA to develop talking points and scripts for five Radio News Releases (RNRs) and developed briefing sheets and/or secured interview questions for all earned media opportunities. SA attended the Travel Marketplace to staff media briefings and provide support at the event.

Press Release Distribution: SA developed more than 110 press materials, including but not limited to press releases, pitches, media lists, media advisories, blog posts and Telemundo scripts. SA created original content based on AAA’s initiatives and repurposed and incorporated content from Horizons, the monthly member magazine, into press materials and media outreach to elevate the publication’s visibility among existing and potential members. Distributing press releases via BusinessWire to the Boston and RI circuits also secured hundreds of millions of impressions.

Calendar Listings: SA uploaded AAA event details to the websites of local and regional broadcast and print outlets to put this on the radar of communities. These listings were helpful for summarizing the event’s most important information and increasing awareness.

Measurement & Results

As a result of SA’s media relations efforts, AAA received 960,123,187 total impressions and 386 total placements.

For the Travel Marketplace event, SA drove attendance through outreach to local and regional print, broadcast and online media. These efforts resulted in 140,481,834 impressions from eight placements in publications such as WBZ’s “What’s In Store,” Globe-trotting, and Lowell Sun. SA also secured 72 calendar listings, online coverage through a Business Wire distribution and over 137.3 online wire impressions.

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