Snow blankets slopes, Aspen Skiing Co. blankets media | AspenTimes.com

Snow blankets slopes, Aspen Skiing Co. blankets media

Jeremy Swanson Aspen Skiing Co.

ASPEN – The snow that blanketed Aspen’s ski slopes Tuesday was matched by a PR blitz that blanketed the country.

Less than six hours after the slopes opened for the first significant powder day of the season, the Aspen Skiing Co. sent a blast e-mail, which featured still photos and video of skiers and snowboarders flying through the powder, to scores of media outlets.

“We’re pretty much all hands on deck for snow,” said Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle, speaking of the public relations and marketing department.

It’s nothing new for the Skico and other resorts in Colorado to crank up the hype when it snows, but the stakes are a little higher this year because of the ailing economy. Tourists have been booking trips later than usual since the recession. They’re shopping for bargains, but also browsing for top conditions.

“Snow is certainly going to be a driving factor” on where people go, Hanle said.

So Skico is working overtime to get the word out. Two video crews were on the Silver Queen Gondola by 8 a.m. to capture shots of skiers and riders cruising virgin powder. One crew using small, hand-held cameras shot video for the Skico’s Facebook page, YouTube, Flickr and other social media tools.

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Another crew shot broadcast-quality video made available to Denver television stations, the Weather Channel and scores of other outlets.

By 2:30 p.m., the e-mail with three still images of happy skiers and riders plowing through powder was sent out. Major markets that are targeted with snow images are Florida, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and Atlanta, according to Skico Public Relations Manager Melissa Rhines. Major web outlets like Powder and Snowboarder also receive the releases.

The Skico sales department sends the release to the company’s lodging partners in Aspen and Snowmass, and many of them forward it to the guests in their database. The release also goes to tour operators around the world that work with Skico.

The key to the marketing blitz is getting TV stations to air the video. The Skico relies on the relationships it has built with contacts in the media over the years. What’s the secret to success?

“Years and years of buying them drinks,” Hanle said.

Skico will diligently trumpet the word about snowfall levels above 4 inches or so now through the end of December in an effort to increase business, according to Hanle.

scondon@aspentimes.com