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Media tours highlight state's attractionsTell North Platte what you think

A big spread in the Smithsonian magazine about the Sandhill crane migration didn’t just happen.

The Nebraska Tourism Commission began bringing groups of journalists to Nebraska in 2012 to tour the most desirable and unique tourism destinations.

Since that time, the commission has conducted five tours.

The tours have resulted in excellent media coverage of Nebraska, and a recent article illustrates the success of the program.

The March 2014 issue of Smithsonian magazine includes a 14-page spread entitled “Flight Club,” which was written by a journalist on the March 2013 tour of central Nebraska.

“We are so excited because this one article is worth more than $2 million in publicity for the state,” said Nebraska Tourism Commission Director Kathy McKillip.

Some 123 journalists have visited Nebraska on the five media tours, resulting in 212 articles or broadcast segments that have appeared in outlets including: Midwest Living, Smithsonian, Better Homes & Gardens, Parade, Saveur, Cowboys & Indians, American Cowboy, Group Tour, Group Travel Leader, Canadian Geographic, Byways, Smart Meetings, Short Escapes, Huffington Post, Texas Golfer, AAA Journeys, National Public Radio, Kansas City Star, Miami Herald, Nashville Tennessean, Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Oklahoman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Toronto Sun, Albuquerque Journal and the Coloradoan. 

Some 115 million potential visitors have been exposed to the coverage, the tourism commission estimates. If this editorial coverage had been purchased as paid advertising it would have cost $4.4 million. 

National and in-state tourism sponsors have provided more than $198,160 in goods and services including air transportation, lodging, meals and activities to support the Nebraska Tourism Commission’s media tour program.

Central Nebraska and the frontier trails region will be the featured in the next tour, March 23-27, as the state plays host to national and regional journalists.

This will be the sixth tour and will include activities in Grand Island, Kearney, Red Cloud, Elm Creek, Minden, Henderson, Aurora, York and other stops in the central part of the state.

 "Media tours give Nebraska's tourism industry an opportunity to get their message out to key writers and all of their readers,” McKillip said  “Travel writers need to experience the destination in order to write about it, and these tours allow many segments of the tourism industry to expose their offerings to these journalists. The coverage has been extremely positive about Nebraska as a destination,” said Kathy McKillip, Director of the Nebraska Tourism Commission.

"The 14-page article in the March issue of Smithsonian magazine on Nebraska's annual Sandhill crane migration is a great way to introduce Nebraska as a destination to potential visitors across the country," said Debbie Geiger, president of the public relations firm that developed the tours. "A national feature article like this can have significant impact on visitation and has even more credibility than paid advertising."

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 2/26/2014
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