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McNeil Wilson Communications

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2012 Honolulu Festival

1003 Bishop Street
Pauahi Tower, 9th Floor
Honolulu, HI 96813
T 808.531.0244
F 808.521.7163

McNeil Wilson Communications, Inc

Hawaii is known for its blend of diverse cultures, especially from countries in the Asia-Pacific region. To celebrate and perpetuate these strong cultural and ethnic ties, the Honolulu Festival is held every March at venues in and around Waikiki to showcase exhibits and performance groups from Pacific Rim countries for free to Honolulu residents and on-island visitors. During the Festival residents played host to the growing dialogue between the cultures of East and West with guests, participants and spectators from Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Tahiti, Canada, and Alaska. 

The Honolulu Festival is operated by the non-profit Honolulu Festival Foundation, which administers Festival activities and perpetuates the culture, customs and traditions of Asian and Pacific Islanders through community outreach and charitable efforts.

In 2010, the Honolulu Festival was recognized as one of only six major festivals and events by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), the state’s tourism agency, and received a three-year special funding based on the following criteria:

  • It portrays the diversity and culture of Hawaii
  • It enhances Hawaii’s visitor experience and enriches residents’ quality of life

McNeil Wilson Communications (MWC) was charged with generating media exposure on the island of Oahu to excite local public interest and attract higher attendance to the Festival venues.

MWC’s objective was to generate publicity on an escalating schedule, utilizing a full range of print, broadcast and online media opportunities over a four-month long timeline of media outreach from November 2011 through March 2012. The timeline was strategically planned to build up momentum and excitement and to pique community interest closer to the Festival weekend.

MWC’s target audiences were Hawaii residents and on-island visitors. The monthly retainer covered all PR efforts. Expenses for the Governor’s Luncheon were paid directly by the client, as was the advertising buy.

MWC’s comprehensive PR plan included the execution of the following major components:

  • Press Conference
  • Governor’s Luncheon
  • Recruiting of a Festival Spokesperson
  • Media Relations
  • Paid Advertising Buy
  • Social Media

Press Conference: MWC coordinated a press conference held outdoors in the heart of Waikiki one week before the Festival, serving as a kick-off event and generating pre-event buzz and excitement. Utilizing the firm’s excellent high level connections with key government and tourism officials, MWC secured the attendance of the Mayor of Honolulu, the head of the state’s Hawaii Tourism Authority and a prominent hotel chain CEO as speakers. A popular local entertainment group and a local chef providing food samplings were also secured by the agency to add a festive atmosphere to the event. MWC drafted speeches for the event emcee and Festival spokesperson.

Governor’s Luncheon:
The firm conceptualized the luncheon at Washington Place, the official residence of the Governor of Hawaii, as a means of adding stature to the Festival by virtue of the venue itself, and by bringing together local business and community leaders as well as VIPs from the countries represented in the Festival. The Governor addressed the luncheon using information provided by MWC to his aides.

Festival Spokesperson:
The Honolulu Festival Foundation looked to MWC to recommend a new Festival spokesperson for 2012. Leveraging the firm’s connections in the community, MWC was able to secure the former president of the Japanese Cultural Center museum, Lenny Andrew, as the spokesperson. Lenny is a prominent and recognizable figure in the local community and is highly respected. MWC provided media training for Lenny’s many on-camera interviews.

Media Relations:
The client also benefitted from MWC’s outstanding rapport with local media. The tremendous amount of print, online and broadcast coverage resulted from personal relationships and strategic positioning of story ideas. MWC developed and distributed 10 press releases and media advisories that highlighted both the overall events as well as niche interests. In addition, MWC staffed all media events prior to and during the Festival weekend and provided talking points for all interviews and morning show appearances.

Paid Advertising Buy:
In addition to its PR efforts, MWC was able to secure a widespread paid advertising buy at a special non-profit rate. The Honolulu Festival Foundation had a budget of $50,000 to spend in print and broadcast advertising. For this rate, the firm was able to coordinate 24 TV spots on four local news stations, 673 spots through Oceanic Cable TV reaching national networks such as A&E, TBS and Discovery Channel, 105 TV spots broadcasted in Waikiki hotel rooms to reach on-island visitors, and three print advertisements in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. MWC recommended that all advertising begin the week prior to the Festival date in order to push attendance at the various venues. 

Social Media:
In 2012, MWC took on the initiative to launch a Honolulu Festival Instagram account to keep up with the growing popularity of this photo-sharing platform that lent itself nicely to the visually stunning Festival performances. The agency also created content for the Festival’s Facebook and Twitter channels.

The media coverage of the Honolulu Festival was exceptional. As a direct result of MWC’s local publicity efforts, there were 12 print clips, 575 online clips and 47 broadcast clips for a total of more than 1.6 million print and online impressions with a broadcast publicity value of more than $72,000.

In the weeks and days leading up to the Festival weekend of March 3-4, MWC secured extensive television, print and online coverage. Below are a few highlights.

Television, print and online coverage for the February 20 press conference

  • Online and social media preview of Friendship Gala on NonStop Honolulu blog
  • Television morning show appearances on Hawaii News Now (CBS/NBC) and KITV (ABC) 
  • Appearance on KSSK Perry & Price, the #1 Hawaii radio show, with a live performance and interview
  • Feature story in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Today” section on February 25 (the only daily statewide paper)
  • Broadcast coverage on K-12 school tours coordinated to give students a one-on-one experience with various cultures
  • Event photo coverage of the Friendship Gala by MidWeek, Honolulu Magazine and NonStop Honolulu on March 3