The Press Trip Is Not Dead

8 Tips for Planning Your Next Boondoggle Media Trip

I am a firm believer that any solid marketing plan, in the B2C space, should involve a cadence of media trips. That’s a sweeping statement, so let me clarify: I believe media trips are an incredible way to establish long-lasting relationships, and deliver ROI with journalists and social influencers for certain industries. Taking journalists to a remote jungle to test new software? Probably not be the best use of marketing dollars. But taking a journalist into a remote jungle to explore a new GPS device, now we’re talking.

Backbone hosts over a dozen media trips and events every year, in all shapes and sizes, so we have compiled the below list of tips and tricks that can be applied to almost any situation.

1 – Purpose – It’s important to take a step back and think, “what is the media going to get out of this?” and “why should this happen in-person, via an experiential trip, as opposed to over email?”

In the outdoor and active lifestyle industry we have an opportunity to really bring our clients’ brand and products to life. But there are many other consumer-facing industries who can capitalize on this same idea: product launches, brand launches, rebrands and big partnership announcements are all situations where media trips might make sense.

The media’s time is valuable and asking them to leave the office is a big ask, so ensuring that the hook is worthy of their time is key.

Media trip in Baja, Mexico

Learning how to surf in Baja, Mexico

2 – Budget – Media trips can be scaled to work with almost any budget, but I think it’s fair to assume that when you add up airfare, lodging, food & beverage, and incidentals it’s not a cheap tactic. Being up front about these costs from the start will help set expectations with your client. I always run on the assumption that if a brand is asking a journalist to attend a trip, they should be covering their expenses, soup-to-nuts.

Some simple ways to cut costs are through staffing, international vs. national trips, pulling-in freelancers or media who are based near the destination, and reaching out to resorts, hotels, and local chambers of commerce. If you are planning on bringing 10 top tier journalists to Belize to test out a new line of rash guards and bathing suits, who knows what a local resort or visitor bureau might offer up – often in the form of a “media rate” – knowing that their property and destination is likely to be mentioned in any post-trip coverage.

3 – Partnerships – Some brands are more sensitive to “sharing the spotlight” than others, however, inviting non-competing brands to take part in a trip can quickly increase the lure for a journalist and greatly offset the overall cost. Don’t get me wrong, if a brand can manage the $50K media trip no problem, there is huge return as you’ll be able to own all messaging. On the flip side, if a sandal company can only put $5K towards a trip, what’s the downside of bringing a water bottle company, a sunglasses brand, and a sunscreen company into the event? All of a sudden, you have $20K to work with and journalists are exposed to a lot of cool new products all centered around the same activity.

When going this route, be sure to establish early on who is driving the event. If everyone is coming in at the same price, there should be equal attention paid to the brands. If there is a scale at which brands are participating, allocate brand exposure accordingly.

Ski apparel launch in Jackson Hole, WY

Ski apparel launch in Jackson Hole, WY

4 – Venue – This is one of the easiest ways to fall flat on a media trip. I’m going to lay it out in real terms: the venue you select 100 percent reflects your brand so chose accordingly. If you’re a backcountry ski manufacturer, asking folks to stay in a rugged AK lodge while they are heli-skiing makes total sense. However, ensure the food, sleeping arrangements, and amenities are up to snuff.

Again, don’t forget to let the venue, lodge, hotel, whatever it may be know that you’re hosting journalists at their property. If there’s a chance they’ll get free press, they just might adjust the pricing for you or throw in some great comp items.

5 – Social Media – This is probably the simplest, but most effective tool to get real-time coverage and ROI for the trip. Aligning on a #hashtag, sharing all appropriate social handles with attendees, and setting up any content guidelines is key for the success. Hiring a professional photographer who can shoot the trip and provide images to the media is another tool to get great real time content sharing.

6 – Invitees – This should be straightforward: invite journalists on a media trip who are a fit for the story, product, brand you are highlighting. Just because someone is in-house at Outside does not mean they are a fit for a fly fishing trip. Take the time to research who at a publication is writing fly fishing reviews/stories and invite them.

Conversely, if you have a sexy media trip to a killer destination you can usually step a bit outside your typical demographic and lure big name titles. Be cautious however, some of the larger media houses do not allow press trips, so you may have to spend some time on LinkedIn or the publication’s website to find the appropriate freelancer.

Launching a new product line in Solvang, California

Launching a new product line in Solvang, California

7 – Structure – The itinerary for a media trip will of course vary, but I have one golden rule I always follow: build downtime into every day. You are taking time out of the office just like the media, so respect that they might have to jump online for a little bit and catch up on work. Plus, we’re all adults, and getting some personal time each day is important – no one wants to feel like they’re attending a sleep away camp with every moment of the day planned scheduled.

8 – Swag – This is probably the easiest piece of a media trip, but often overlooked. Media don’t just write for the publication they’re employed for, they are seen as influencers and experts in their space. If they are using a certain product/wearing a particular brand you better believe people are taking note. So, kit them out and give them stuff they will a) use on the trip and b) can bring home. And I’m not referring to branded tee shirts and koozies, but in-line, or better yet, soon-to-be-released, product and gear.

 

by Alison Nestel-Patt

Climb a Mountain, Take it Off: The MTN Babes Story

In July 2011, Maddie Crowell stood on the summit of Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park with her friend Lindsey Cannon. It was Crowell’s first big ascent since a climbing accident, and standing at 14,259′ she was relieved and excited to feel comfortable in the mountains again. Cannon and Crowell were the only hikers at the top, so they decided to free themselves from the boundaries of their sports bras and shorts and take a naked summit photo. That feeling, Crowell recounts, was one of the most liberating she’s ever felt — addictive, almost.

Image: Maddie Crowell

As Crowell and Cannon headed down the peak, the ideas started bubbling to the surface. The women are both Telluride, CO, natives each with a vibrant passion for  exploration, but outside of their outdoor-enthused hometown, they wanted to encourage more women to get up off of the couch and feel that wonderful moment of power standing on top of a mountain, naked.

This, officially, was the beginning of Mountain Babes (MTN Babes), a social media craze that, in the next five years, would have women from all over the country scrambling up mountains to take off their clothes and snap that iconic picture at the top.

Soon after that initial photo on Longs, Crowell began encouraging her friends to take similar shots, and with a gallery of almost 50 images, she built a simple website where she could share these experiences. The blog launched in November 2011, and would later become mtnbabes.com.

Image: MTN Babes

Today, MTN Babes has over 25,500 followers on Instagram, growing by an average 100 followers a day. The hashtag #mtnbabes has over 9,000 posts and Crowell is buried in photo submissions, with over 170 sitting in her inbox waiting to be sorted. The images have expanded beyond just mountaintops, now showcasing women who bike, rock climb and backcountry ski, each baring it all and celebrating being outside.

Initially, Instagram and Facebook kept shutting MTN Babes down for infringement on community guidelines — the rules specify no nudity. Crowell began to publish images from the waist up, with only back showing, and with this change, she’s been able to keep the account for over a year.

As for the other sex, “We definitely get guy submissions, but we want to focus on women,” says Crowell, “We’ve seen a huge wave of female participation in the outdoors recently. And on social media especially, you see more and more female athletes.”

The success of MTN Babes coincides with a greater interest in female participation in the outdoors headed by influential athletes like Lynsey Dyer and her ski film “Pretty Faces” and a growing number of women centric outdoor clinics like Yeti Cycles’ Vida MTB Series and She Jumps’ “Get the Girls Out” programs.

But this forward momentum is counter-balanced by the underlying reality that women are often misrepresented (and under represented) in the outdoor industry. Outside Magazine published an article in April titled “No More Barbie Gear,” encouraging brands to take women seriously: “Drenching ads in My Little Pony colors isn’t the way to inspire today’s women. Instead, show us succeeding at our sport,”the article stated.

Maybe that’s where MTN Babes’ true appeal is found: There’s an authenticity to the movement and it lies in MTN Babes’ no-frills approach. Grab your girlfriends and head outside, because even if you’re not tackling the gnarliest summit, it’s still something to be celebrated. The Instagram comments are filled with women offering support and encouragement to each other; tagging their friends in hopes of  making it on the MTN Babes page, too.

Image: Maddie Crowell

Even with such a large following, it still surprises Crowell how many business inquiries she has received lately. Social media followers are a form of digital currency, and MTN Babes’  following of young, adventurous women, is  very appealing to brands trying to make an influence on an authentic community.

Crowell, who has a full-time job as a forester on Vancouver Island, hardly has time to develop the business side of things, but is intrigued by recent collaborations. Namely, a brand partnership with Skida: a Burlington, VT, based company that makes headwear and accessories in colorful patterns and appealing styles.

Image: Skida

“Skida has had stores across the country request the MTN Babes patterns,” says Crowell. “They’re the ones who are really pushing me to get the name Trademarked.”

Over the years, Crowell has seen other social media pages try and copy MTN Babes, and for the most part she, considers it flattery. When the name is blatantly copied, though, that broaches on frustrating, hence the desire for the Trademark.

“Making money with MTN Babes was never what I had in mind,” says Crowell. “But I would like to take advantage of these opportunities and start collaborating with businesses and people that align with our ideas.”

Of course, like any new business, this comes at a cost. All of the hours spent posting photos, and building the brand side of MTN Babes, is time Crowell has to spend away from the mountains — an irony that she can’t quite reconcile.

“It’s such a love hate relationship,” says Crowell.  ” We’re so addicted to having a way to connect and we have to use social media to spread the message, and yet it’s really powerful to go outside and be okay with not being connected.”

— Celine Wright

 

 

 

 

 

A Grand Canyon Indeed

By Casey Sheahan
IanShive2Late in the winter sometime around 1980 when I was about 25, two friends and I hiked across the Grand Canyon, from South Rim to North, with light cross-country racing skis strapped on our packs. The air was warm that first night as we pitched our tent under clear skies near Phantom Ranch, by the Colorado River.

Pounding rain swept through a few hours later, and by morning, Bright Angel Creek was swollen and turbid. We shouldered packs and headed up the trail towards the North Rim, moving through nearly two billion years of geologic history. Rain turned to snow as we gained altitude, passing into the Navajo Sandstone formation. A few hours later we were gliding on skis above the North Rim, through a hushed forest of old-growth ponderosa pine.

As we gain the perspective that time provides on intense, immersive experiences, we’re given to pondering the whys and wherefores. In the decades since that trip, I’ve realized that what made those special moments possible, more than anything else, was the fact that the landscape was accessible—intact and protected—to a trio of dreamy young adventurers, and anyone else seeking recreation and renewal.

I’ve been fortunate to make a career out of my love for the outdoors, working with companies like Patagonia and Keen, which share my belief that access to wild places is foundational nourishment for the human spirit—a belief fed and watered largely by experiences like that winter Grand Canyon adventure.

“Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is,” said President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, a few years prior to declaring the Grand Canyon a national monument. “Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.”

Roosevelt sought to protect the Grand Canyon against the threat of extractive mining and commercial development because he saw its value as a source of inspiration for all Americans. But despite being upgraded to national park status in 1919 and doubled in size in 1975, the Grand Canyon and its surroundings are still under siege, more than 100 years later. That’s why I’m asking President Obama to protect the Grand Canyon watershed with national monument status, using his powers under the Antiquities Act of 1906.

 

RightsFree3_That forest we skied into on the North Rim is the largest stand of old-growth Ponderosas left in the country, a vital link to adjacent ecosystems, and home to numerous dependent species of animals like mule deer and the rare Kaibab squirrel. But it’s still being aggressively logged thanks to a lack of sensible protections.

The Grand Canyon watershed contains numerous uranium deposits, hundreds of abandoned mines, and several proposed mining sites. Yet the closest thing it has to permanent protection is the 20-year moratorium on new mines declared by Obama in 2012. Uranium mining is a notoriously toxic and hard-to-contain enterprise. Even if the moratorium survives current court challenges from the mining industry, who knows what might happen after it expires in 2032? What I am certain of is that allowing commercial interests to despoil this landscape for short-term profits will ensure that everyone loses.

As we pitched our tent in the snow and started the stove at our North Rim campsite that winter evening, we marveled at the sheer diversity of climates and ecosystems we had experienced in just 24 hours—from the warmth of the desert Southwest to the cold powder of a sub-alpine forest. We sipped hot tea and gazed across the chasm from North Rim to South, utterly thrilled by the sight.

Join me in supporting the designation of Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument. For more about how you can get involved, visit GrandCanyonWatershed.org.

 

CaseySheahanPortrait

 

 

Casey Sheahan has been a leader in the outdoor industry for more than 30 years. The former CEO of Patagonia, he has also held executive roles at Nike, Merrell, American Recreation, and Powder Magazine. He now serves on the Keen Footwear board of directors and works as a senior advisor at Backbone Media.

 

Photo Credits: Ian Shive  / Tandem Still + Motion (TOP); Penn Newhard (MIDDLE); Casey Sheahan (BOTTOM)

The Best Part of Work 2 of 2

All businesses have certain criteria and filters they put on their work.

At Backbone, our criteria boils down to if we believe in the brand.

Taking this beyond the work environment we can see how ‘believing in the brand’  manifests itself on a recent personal trip to Antarctica to climb Vinson Massif with friends Linden and Slinger.  Expecting cold temps between 0 centigrade and -40C it was pretty reassuring to be able to rely on client’s products for protection from the elements.

So, how do you pack for a few weeks vacation on Antarctic ice? Here’s a selection of some client and non-client products that went down south.

P1000202

Russian Ilyushin 76 cargo plane on the blue ice runway at Union Glacier

Travel

Stio Rivet jeans and Otto Shirt

BD  Post Op Hoody and Mission belt

BD speed pack  – for laptop to ski touring pack

Lululemon Metal Vent Tech LS and Hoody

P1000212

Lindon Mallory on the Twin Otter flying from Union Glacier into Vinson Basecamp

Core & Insulation

SmartWool NTS Lite  Baselayers – I’m a big fan of boot top 3/4 length bottoms as they alleviate bunching up of too many layer and boots

Polartec CoEfficient Hoody and Polartec Powerstretch tight – lightweight and warm

BD Stance Belay Pants

First Ascent MicroTerm jacket – lightweight and fitted to layer under jackets

BD Cold Forge Parka & Stance Belay Parkas – double down on the down

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Slinger and Linden looking out from high camp

Hands, head and feet

Gloves – BD digital liner, Rambla, Guide gloves and Absolute mitt. Both Slinger and Linden used thr First Ascent Guide glove extensively.

Headwear – Kask Headband – assorted Buffs (TGR and Strafe) – old Patagonia Highloft shell hat, BD Balaclava and Cloudveil 4 Shadows Beanie. Regulating your body temp starts with your head

POC Iris goggles and Jeremy Jones Signature glacier glasses. Spare glasses were Revo Guide glasses

Thermacell Heated footbeds – remote control heat at the touch of a button. Great in climbing/ski boots and around camp

La Sportiva Olympus Mons  – these things are MONEY

BD Sabretooth crampons – probably the best all around crampon ever made

BD Quadrant ski boots with Intuition liners

Forty Below neoprene overboots (for ski boots and around camp)

P1050131

Windy, cold conditions on the fixed lines

Outerwear

BD Vapor Point Shell

Stio Hardscrabble soft shell pant

Old School Marmot 8000 meter down pant  – yup, the old yellow and red ones

P1000330

Linden descending from high camp

 

Hardware

BD Carbon Aspect Ski

BD Ascension skins – dependability is king

BD Whippet, Raven Ultra ice axe and Expedition 2 ski pole. The Whippet is more versatile and handy than an ice axe much of the time

Assorted locking biners – (I went with a Magnetron Vaporlock which is super great with gloves/mitts on), wiregates (larger body types like the Hotwire is better), ATC, Express Turbo ice screw, prussiks, Tiblocs and 1 ascender, SMC pickets

BD Saw and Deploy Shovel

P1000238

Lunch stop on the glacier

Nutrition

Penn’s special gorp – mix of shelled pistachios and chocolate covered espresso beans (protein, anti oxidants and caffeine)

Mix of cheeses, salami, proscuitto, crackers

Dinty Moores, Ramen, and Tasty Bites. Real bacon and burgers at basecamp.

Couple of boxes of wine, a flask of Genepi.

Assortment of Honey Stinger waffles and chews, GU and Chomps and Voke Energy Tabs. CLIF bars and Snickers

P1050337

Reflecting on the summit

Sleeping and accessories

Big Agnes Doubletrack insulated pad – the pad is key to warm and comfy sleep

Big Agnes girdle – turns any stuff sack into a compression stuff sack.

Alps foam matt

Old school Feathered Friends overstuffed -40 bag – I have an extra long to stuff in liners, gloves and pee bottle.

MSR XGK stoves

Klean Kanteen insulated thermos waterbottles X2

GoalZero Solar Chargers

Lumix DMC – Gm1 – compact interchangeable lens with a 12-32 and 40 – 200 lenses. Great small camera.

BD Mission 75 backpack

Journal, Team mascot Paco the penguin. Paco summitted with us then hung on our Christmas tree and now lives in my 7 year old’s room.

P1050331

Descending

Stuff I did not bring but my partners did and I was jealous

Gregory Makalu Pro Backpack  – my buddy Linden Mallory has guided all over the world with this pack. It has seen a lot of time and is a classic Gregory pack

Sea to Summit – Padded Soft Cell for electronics and Aeros Pillow Premium. Apparently Slinger now sleeps with his pillow at home

Coal Freya neck gaiter – super warm, wooly gaiter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Part of Work 1 of 2

With 2014 coming to a close, we took some time to compile a “Best of” list for Backbone.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.17.24 AMOnce again this year, our accomplishments are the result of hard work, creativity and  partnerships with strong brands and great people.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.04.15 AMWhether helping to launch a brand via Kickstarter, winning stacks of editorial awards from both endemic and broad based media alike, or working with our partners to create best in class native advertising, here’s a quick look at some of Backbone’s best accomplishments in 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.04.38 AMHired 13 people

Won 13 new accounts

Tracked over 18.5 billion editorial media impressions (that’s with no multiplier applied)

Successfully launched a new digital programmatic platform – FastG8

IMG_3579

Built out content creation solutions for multiple brands

Redesigned (and majorly improved) our logo and corporate ID

Created a new business process, strengthened our values and mission

Completed our best New York media events to date, including a very successful pop up in Midtown

Finalized a new website (look for it soon!)

Opened a new office in Denver in a stunning space and relocated our Jackson office

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.33.52 AM

Updated our wellness stipend to better reflect diverse interests and needs

Added more structure, titles and support to the organization to create growth opportunities

Increased structure and support in Jackson and Denver offices

Created the DCM monster that is now Lindsay Logan. Hired Colin Cares to support digital effort

Worked on some groundbreaking campaigns for our clients like The Human Factor for BD, Best Towns for Toad & Co., content creation for Opedix and Revo, and many more

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.17.56 AM

Finished a remodel in our Carbondale office

Paid for the remodel mentioned above

Bought stand-up desks for  everyone so we live longer

Shifted our file management and phone system to the cloud

Bought a new coffee machine and got it running

Installed a water filtration system

Spent 2000 nights on the road and called 174 ski days legitimate work (*estimated)

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.36.33 AM

Consumed 140 pounds of coffee – but only 8 kegs (weak sauce on the keg work)

Launched the YETI Hopper, ABOM goggles on Kickstarter, AvaTech, expanded business in active lifestyle, hook and bullet and destination markets

Devoted time, energy and effort to non-profits – Protect Our Winters, Big City Mountaineers, First Descents, Thompson Divide Coalition, Spring Gulch Nordic Center, Roaring Fork Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Red Hill trail system (you should support one too!)

Ran media trips stand up paddling on the Hudson, heli hiking in Squamish, multi-day rafing on the Green River, fly fishing in Patagonia, heli skiing in British Columbia, road riding with the US Pro Challenge, backpacking in the Uintas

Raised money and summited Mount Shasta for BCM’s Summit for Someone program

Named one of Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work for third year in a row

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.38.50 AM

 

 

 

 

True Innovation + Macro Relevance = ???

PR folks have a serious weakness for superlatives.

This new widget is the lightest, fastest, bestest (this truthfully is a word. A super superlative the best of the best!). It is quite silly, really. We’ve joked in our office of creating a new product release template structured in a Mad Libs format to fill in the superlative gaps for a press release.

Yet there also lurks true awesomeness (also a rarely used word defined as: an unmeasurable amount of awesomenimity). Smart people are creating solutions to problems and true innovation occurs everyday. What is ideal is when the innovation or launch of a new product or company correlates with trends that have macro or societal relevance.

avatech_final

Which brings us to AvaTech.  Avatech is a start up that came out of MIT. The Founder and CEO, Brint Markle, had a close friend get caught in a slide (he survived). In processing the situation Brint observed that all avy gear is basioally triage based, and reactive technology. Thus, AvaTech was founded to design a solution that would give skiers and riders good data to facilitate better decision making and avoid getting caught in an avalanche before it happens.

avatech-sp1-avalanche-probe-production_in

AvaTech is a proactive solution that quickly and accurately analyzes snowpack and facilitates real-time sharing. Backbone helped launch AvaTech to the media a few weeks ago  – and the group  is quickly catching attention as it  attends the International Snow Science Workshop (ISSW) in Banff this week.

 

Why has the launch been successful? AvaTech is honestly innovative. Don’t take our superlative laden perspective for it, in a feature article released last week in The Avalanche Review (TAR) considered the leading publication for snow pros and patrollers, Jordy Hendrikx professor of snow science at Montana State says,” “Every so often, new technology comes along in an industry that’s not step change, but orders of magnitude. We’re seeing this with AvaTech today in our industry.”

In the first 5 days of launch, AvaTech received over 25,000 youtube views, organic sharing of the content on Facebook was exceptional, (over 400 shares) as was the coverage on OutsideOnline, Wildsnow, Powder, Backcountry, Freeskier, Transworld, Unofficial Networks, TGR, and TAR. Innovation helps, but an overarching macro trend focusing on safety not just in snow sports but in all gravirty sports in general comes into play as well. As the number of off piste skiers rises, so too does the need for safety products. We’ve seen this with helmets, body armor, as well as an emerging trend for safety products and protocol in the backcountry. The Black Diamond JetForce airbag is a great example. So, while AvaTech’s SP1 is not the lightest, fastest perhaps it is the bestest as it hits the sweet spot of a thoughtfully innovative product, which has been carefully developed and is poised for success and relevance with snow pros, and backcountry enthusiasts alike.

Look for out on the hill this winter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charging into Fall 2104

Having just completed the bi-annual Backbone Charge (because we do not retreat) staff outing, here is a quick look at some recent projects we’ve completed—from product launches, to trend stories, to native advertising.

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Bonfire at the annual Charge at the Harry Gates Hut (photo compliments the talented Erik Wardell)

ABOM

At 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, September 7, we dropped the F-bomb. For the past several months we’ve been working with Abominable Labs on the launch of their game-changing goggles, which feature a lens that heats up to immediately eliminate fog, much like your car’s rear window defroster.  It’s a product that is really innovative, but also makes you think, “why didn’t I think of that.” We’ve been working for weeks to coordinate the announcement of the product with the launch of their kickstarter page and it was fun to see the stories roll in from the Oregonian (Abom is based in Lake Oswego) OutsideOnline, GearJunkie and Gizmodo in the first 24 hours. This is a brand that’s poised to shake up the goggle market.

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HOKA ONE ONE

On the heels of the Outdoor Retailer show and recent awards in Runner’s World, Competitor and Trail Runner, to name a few, HOKA is hitting it’s stride. Here’s a quick look at Deckers CEO Angel Martinez on Mad Money talking about HOKA along with other Deckers brands. Key take-aways: connect, create experiences and build relationships with consumers, omnichannel sales and “web-rooming.”

Black Diamond
Following up on BD’s popular Mountain Project mobile app is a native campaign with Outside. “If it ain’t broke, break it” takes consumers into Black Diamond’s QA/QC lab and provides a peak into the product testing that serves brand’s mantra: Use Design Engineer Build Repeat.

See you out there!

 

Post OR – wrap

Here’s a quick look back at the Outdoor Retailer show.

Greg Williams started his OR in Steamboat where he began a 4-day, 400 mile bike ride to Salt Lake City with 75+ other outdoor folks. In its seventh year, the SmartWool ride to OR battles heat, rain and 100+ mile days. This year Greg was joined by Chris Steinkamp, executive director from Protect Our Winters, Brian Vaughan, co-founder of GU Energy and chief endurance officer (how do I get a title like that?) and a Texan named Lance. Props to SmartWool and the entire group on their effort.

Funny how most of images of this guy Mellow Johnny are always from behind...

Funny how most of images of this guy Mellow Johnny are always from behind…

The demo day was highlighted by a Sperry floating pontoon boat piloted by our own Captain Ian Anderson. The Sperry boat passed out lobster rolls and Sam Adams beer to anyone who paddled or out to visit.

Capt. Ian 'Meryl Stubing' Anderson

Capt. Ian ‘Meryl Stubing’ Anderson

Mackenzie hands out lobster rolls

Mackenzie hands out lobster rolls

those Yeti Hopper coolers are everywhere

Those Yeti Hopper coolers are everywhere

Revo relaunched to retailers at the outdoor demo, showcasing its stylish new Spring '15 line.

Revo relaunched to retailers at the outdoor demo, showcasing its stylish new Spring ’15 line.

One of the goals Backbone collectively set out to achieve during this OR Show was to connect with people beyond the tradeshow floor. Whether it was an early morning road ride, fly fishing the day before OR or hiking up Mt. Superior in the afternoon—we worked to build key relationships—basically doing cool stuff with cool people.

Kara casting on the Provo

Kara casting on the Provo

Shannon Davis and Julie Ellison on Superior's south ridge

Shannon Davis and Julie Ellison on Superior’s south ridge

Climbing mag crew and JLD on summit

Climbing Magazine crew and JLD on summit

full moon below climber @ Psico Bloc comp

Full moon below climber @ Psico Bloc comp

Back on the show floor, editorial awards are highly prized by every brand as they’re often a bellwether for future sales. Per usual, our clients had a good showing. The new Big Agnes MtnGLOW collection of lighted tents picked up best in show awards from Outside and GearJunkie, HOKA won Editor’s Choice from Runner’s World and an award from Competitor Magazine for the new Clifton shoe, and Polartec/Bomber Gear got a Best New Gear award from Gear Institute for the Palguin dry top featuring Polartec Neoshell.

photo 1

Nyberg loves NeoShell

 

NEW(s)

With Independence Day in the rear view mirror, Backbone salutes the independent-minded entrepreneurs of our newest brand partners: HOKA, AvaTech, Protect Our Winters and Pat’s Backcountry Beverages. As summer is hitting full stride we are excited to work with these new companies to build their brand stories via paid, earned and owned media.

 

Hoka_Blue_Citrus_Bird_Logo_USE_THIS_ONE

HOKA ONE ONE is the fastest growing premium running shoe brand in the world. HOKA shoes were quickly embraced by the ultrarunning community, and today, more and more road runners, both everyday and serious competitors, are embracing the unique ride the shoes provide. As a brand, HOKA has been on the Backbone radar since they launched. As an agency of runners, HOKA’s technology coupled with first hand endorsement from many of our colleagues and running friends piqued interest. We are stoked to help continue growing the HOKA community and show how these shoes are revolutionizing the running industry.

avatech_final

AvaTech  is a start up out of MIT that was first introduced to Backbone through an athlete who was testing the product. After multiple discussions and meetings on skis and over beers with Brint Markle, one of the founders, AvaTech brought in long time Backbone friend Thomas Laakso, formerly Black Diamond’s ski category director. AvaTech is a proactive solution that quickly and accurately analyzes snowpack and facilitates real-time sharing. AvaTech will debut at Banff’s ISSW in September and be available in Winter 2014/15. AvaTech will set out to solve key needs of military, mining, railroad, highway, hydrology, oil and natural gas markets.

 

POW Long Logo

Protect Our Winters is a global nonprofit fighting climate change on behalf of the winter sports community. POW’s mission is to engage and mobilize the winter sports community to lead the fight against climate change. Their focus is on educational initiatives, advocacy and the support of community-based projects. With POW, Backbone will be working to engage and grow POW’s social media channels and outreach through programs such as the Rider’s Alliance, a community of athletes and Olympians who have banded together to amplify their first hand experiences and views on the impact of climate change. A great example of the Rider’s Alliance action on climate #actonclimate last month generated over 100 million in a few days in collaboration with the White House and EPA climate regulations.

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Pat’s Backcountry Beverages invented the world’s first Beer and All-Natural Soda that allows outdoor enthusiasts to make delicious beverages anywhere. Pat’s patented, portable Carbonator Bottle replaces your standard water bottle with the added feature of being able to carbonate any liquid you put in it. The system significantly reduces the weight of carrying canned 12oz beverages by 87% and space in your backpack by 89%. Pat’s Backcountry Beverages also produces five gourmet, all-natural soda concentrates, made with pure cane juice, key replenishing vitamins and no preservatives

I mean seriously. We love beer and we love doing cool stuff. Pat’s is a perfect solution to every climber, hiker and paddler out there.

 

 

Rebrand

The strength of our business has always been built on delivering results for our clients first. Sure, we invest in Backbone in a big way annually, but to be honest we have never made it priority #1 to promote ourselves or overly focus on our brand. To this point, it is far easier and more genuine to tell another brand’s story rather than focus on talking about oneself. This client centric approach has served us well. New business has always been driven by great word-of-mouth recommendations from our clients, our agency partners and our friends in the industry.

 

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However, 2014 marks a change. Our original logo designed in 1997, by our then shared-office graphic artist friends at Rainy Day Designs, has been a solid one for us. The history of the logo – a stylized yin of the Continental Divide, the backbone of the Rockies running through the heart of the state of Colorado, is being retired in favor of a more modern, bold mark with a hint of western design.

 

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If you have ever run a new logo/design process it can be PAINFUL. It took over a year and we mangled more than one design team relationship. Internally, it was near contentious at times, bordering on combative and hilarity. Funny, because at first blush most people seem to care little about a logo or fonts, but if you dig just a bit deeper – oh, it gets real. As always, we persevered, trusted the process and each other and now are happy.

You may notice the B’s have a peaked center that represent the twin summits of Mount Sopris, the noble peak that sits above Carbondale. The new Backbone logo is  bold, clean and strong. I won’t get into some of the descriptors given about how the line below represents a continuum and progress in a static form. I mean, some of the stuff our graphic artist pals spun makes even the most flowery PR language look pretty tame.

Big call out to Fred Hammerquist and his team for helping shepard us through this process. We like Fred. We collaborate together on a few brands. Rumor has it when the snow is deep he skis on Megawatts. Thanks to Fred and his team.

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Onward!