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Richmond County, NC

Case Study

The Client

The Richmond County Tourism Development Authority was established in 1987 to help promote travel and tourism in Richmond County, North Carolina.

The Challenge

Since 1965, stock car auto racing has been the leading draw of tourism in Richmond County, accumulating nearly $21 million a year in revenue. In 2004, the county lost its most lucrative tourism asset when NASCAR hosted its last sanctioned race at Rockingham Speedway. To counteract the significant decline in revenue, the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority retained Walker Marketing to develop a strategic marketing plan that would promote the county and regain lost visitation to the area.

The Strategy

In addition to auto racing, Richmond County is rich with historical attractions and outdoor recreational resources. To help encourage travel and tourism in the county, Walker Marketing developed and executed a strategic marketing plan that promoted these three key tourism assets through public relations, advertising, digital and social media. Walker Marketing also facilitated an initiative which included the support of city, county and state government officials to help reinstate NASCAR-sanctioned racing to Rockingham Speedway and Richmond County.

Tactics

Website

RichmondCountyOutdoors.com, a tourism-themed website, was developed to highlight events and attractions under each tourism category: heritage, outdoors and racing. Editorial blogs were created to offer website visitors details about seasonal events, attractions, and insights into unique local facts and personalities. Visitors were also provided with travel resources, including maps and directories, to help plan their next visit to Richmond County.

Advertising

To further promote Richmond County’s tourism assets and drive people to its website, Walker Marketing executed a strategic public relations and advertising campaign. Local, regional and state reporters were encouraged to develop stories on various aspects of Richmond County, including its bountiful fishing and gaming resources and unique historical venues. Print and outdoor advertising also depicted the county’s outdoor appeal and directed people to RichmondCountyOutdoors.com to learn more.

Economic Development Study

To help regain Richmond County’s most lucrative tourism asset, Walker Marketing commissioned an economic development study to showcase the impact the return of NASCAR would have on the city, county and state. Walker Marketing also facilitated meetings with Rockingham Speedway, NASCAR, and city, county and state government officials to identify and acquire the needs associated with regaining a NASCAR-sanctioned race.

The Result

Through its ongoing publicity and advertising efforts, Walker Marketing successfully elevated awareness of Richmond County’s three primary tourism assets via local, state and national media. In addition to media coverage in niche publications, including TRAINS and Paddling Life, Walker Marketing secured profile coverage of two key cities in Richmond County. The city of Rockingham was profiled in Our State, while the city of Hamlet was a focal point for a PBS broadcast segment titled, “Train Town.”

Additionally, the persistent efforts by Walker Marketing and government officials resulted in one of the county’s greatest achievements. Nearly seven years after the last NASCAR-sanctioned race appeared at Rockingham Speedway, Governor Bev Perdue announced that the track would be home to a NASCAR Camping World Truck series race. The announcement was celebrated by city, county and state representatives and Rockingham Speedway supporters with the news appearing in local, regional and national media outlets.

As a result of these combined efforts, Richmond County is now positioned to publicize a broader range of tourism resources to a much wider audience while re-captivating its longtime NASCAR supporters and regenerating tourism revenue throughout the county.