The face of great PR

great PR
Originally uploaded by drewbo.
Just 'cause Austria won 14 alpine ski medals and Bode scuttled all future endorsement contracts ... Don't be disappointed with the men's US Ski Team's performance in Torino.

Instead, you should be impressed. Their PR performance was truly awesome.

The flak machine (thanks, Nike) nailed down feature placements in the NY Times, 60 Minutes, Outside and just about everybody else.

Unfortunately, when you've got great PR and the "product" fails to meet expectations, the media understandably gets a little chapped.

It's fair to say that the current rage of Bode-Bashing could be blamed on the fact that the media feels they got duped by a PR effort that overstated the truth, and created unrealistic expectations for an ageing, pressure-averse batch of slightly-above-average ski racers.


Hard at work

hard at work
Originally uploaded by drewbo.
Pale Morning Media's very own Scott Kaier on a verrry long lunch break up at the 'Bush.

A user’s guide to understanding the outdoor industry

it's the outdoors, stupid
Originally uploaded by drewbo.
This month, Outdoor Industry Association released their 2006 State of the Industry Report.

It's the best thing I've read rrom OIA to date.

I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone with any vested interest in the outdoor world to read the whole thing ... yes, BB, all of it.

For those who resist the urge to cherry-pick a quote here and a stat there, i'm confident you'll find it a worthwhile read.

If you need a copy of the report, please email me at drew@madriver.com.


Feel guilty?

Originally uploaded by drewbo.
First of all, "growing participation" has nothing to do with involvement in extracurricular green leaf operations. Thanks for asking.

Second of all, one of our three readers sent a note recently asking if the outdoor world's call for "growing participation" was on a collision course with the new sustainability movement.

The answer, of course, depends on your definitions.

Most of the outdoor world wants to believe that GP would behave like a bell curve, and that with a moderate and democratic sprinkling of advocacy efforts the entire outdoor world will sneak up just a smidgen.

Crowded areas would get a little more crowded, wild areas would get a little more popular, and everybody would sell a little more gear.

But what if it's not? What if it's a Power-Law Curve instead? (see Malcolm Gladwell's article in the Feb. 20 New Yorker for a full explanation ... awesome).

Instead of the familiar camel's hump of a bell curve, the Power-Law Curve is shaped like a hockey stick ... flat, flat, flat, flat and then BOOM.

It seems to me that the outdoor world might actually fit into this pattern in a number of ways.

Participation-wise, we've got 25 or so outdoor activities that are relatively unchanging from year to year, and an occasional rock star that sends bodies into the field in literal herds.

Selling gear-wise, we've got a batch of trade shows full of companies that are doing single-digit growth or declining, and a handful of companies that are absolutely, positvely, killing it at retail.

Land-use wise, we've got millions of acres of un-tapped outdoor potential, yet everybody still goes to Moab and Teton Pass.

So, to answer the original question, GP is compatible with sustainability ... as long as we acknowledge the truth.

Sustainability isn't about making people feel guilty about their current and past successes, it's about planning for the future.


Please stop the madness

please ...
Originally uploaded by drewbo.
Everytime someone making a living in the outdoor industry proclaims the "death of the outdoor industry" .... God kills a kitten.


Insightful and well-written ... but how high are you?

Full disclosure: The Piton drew my attention to this post.

South Pole, North Pole News and Guide: "As defined by the industry, outdoor activities comprise 22 categories ranging from hiking, ice climbing and trail running to fly fishing, bird watching and others. The data suggest that total product sales are increasing while overall user participation, especially in back-country activities is decreasing. Taken together, these facts suggest the industry's major growth driver may well be apparel sales to non outdoor enthusiasts (think of a teenager at a high school wearing a North Face jacket because it is considered. "

At every OR show that I've ever been too (dating back to Reno in the early '90s), i swear that i've seen at least one trade article per show that's been focused on the glass half-empty approach to outdoor industry growth.

Sure, it's a natural reaction to utilize some journalistic cynicism for PR-provided anything ... but at a certain point, aren't you also obligated to consider if the numbers might actually be right?

Where's the growth? Have you been outside recently? Tried to park on Teton Pass? Seen the summit scene on Mt. Rainier? Attempted to find solitude at the (insert any kayaking destination)? Tried to cast for brownies on the Penobscot without hooking a Pats fan? Hiked any section of any major trail in the United States?

Maybe I haven't been to Everest base camp, but i hear it's pretty crowded there too.


Acquisition Translation Guide

With the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am pace of recent acquisitions in the "outdoor industry," it can get a little confusing sometimes, even for those of us in the occasionally well-informed blogging community.

Here's a quick translation guide to help out:

WHEN THEY SAY: "What does the acquisition of (Insert Outdoor Industry Company Here) mean to the outdoor industry?"
WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS: "I wonder if they're hiring."

WHEN THEY SAY: "The acquistion of (Insert Outdoor Industry Company Here) is a sellout and will undoubtedly result in poorer quality products, the undercutting of specialty retailers, and the fall of Western Civilization."
WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS: "They're one of our strongest competitors. I hope I have a job in five years."

WHEN THEY SAY: "The acquistion of (Insert Outdoor Industry Company Here) is a natural effect of industry growth and proves the value of the active outdoor lifestyle."
WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS: "Sweeeeet, dude. Those guys are old bros of mine, and i'll definitely get some shwag out of this one."

It's all about progression, take 2

"... and if anyone ever tries to tell you it really IS all about progression, do me a favor: punch them in the face."

- Leslie Anthony
Skier Magazine


What you missed after OR

keith carlsen photo
Originally uploaded by drewbo.
Snowbird local Julian Carr jams an in-competition front flip estimated to serve up 140 feet of air.

Yes, he landed it.

From Biglines.com.



Like a cat with its head in a fan

A few days out from the annual OR hoedown, and the head-scratching begins.

Who were the winners? Who were the losers?

Who was making noise for the sake of making noise? Who was that one person that I'm bummed i didn't hook up with?

Why do i feel like a cat with its head in a fan?

At every level of the OR show, there's one thing that people want to see ... progression. Not just innovation or new fabrics or new styles, but a forward evolution.

It's the litmus test for suppliers, for retailers, for sponsored athletes, for magazines and websites, and even for PR firms.

Without progression, you've become a commodity. And once a commodity, the race to the bottom is hard to stop.

With progression, you're a fresh brand to every business partner and friend you meet. You've got a cool story that continues to parallel or even rise ahead of industry trends.

Best of all, you can take your cat's head away from the fan now.