Spring means mud. Spring means long-delayed ACL surgeries. Spring means finding out how much your biking legs lost over the winter. And if you work in public relations in the outdoor industry, Spring means the announcement of Backpacker magazine's Editor's Choice Awards.
As far as PR goes, award season is easily the best of times and the worst of times. Here's why: if you're lucky enough to find yourself on the winning side, the 'best of times' includes approximately 42 seconds of blissful post-award enjoyment and laurel-resting. But the 'worst of times' involves the same $64 question from every client who ever won a piece of the rock: "how can we maximize the reach of this award?"
There is a long-recognized standard approach to award PR, both inside and outside of the outdoor industry: you issue a press release. It's great for client relations, but that's about it. Alerting other media to the fact that one of their competitors likes a certain product is sort of like calling all your old girlfriends to tell them that you're getting married.
So ... in late winter, when we learned Sierra Deigns was to be a 2009 Editor's Choice winner ... the heat was on.
Fortunately, Backpacker gave us some great material to work with. They spent months in search of a location that would provide the most spectacular backdrop possible for gear testing. They wanted rocks and cliffs and coastlines that would translate into spectacular photography. And they found a perfect partner in Wales.
Not only was the landscape ideal, but the weather gods of Wales whipped up a good old fashioned hurricane-style smackdown the night of Backpacker's tent testing. While other tents imploded and tore and spun off, Sierra Designs Lighting XT tent remained standing ... and dry. Not only was it stable in the foul weather, it was roomy enough to house the entire Backpacker testing team (including the missed-his-calling-in-the-NBA editor Jon Dorn) who comfortably spent the entire night in the tent, riding out the storm (LINK).
When they told me about the coming award, I could tell by the way the editors were smiling that the weather was truly shitty that night. I could also tell that they were completely relieved to have had at least one tent that held up well enough to keep the crew comfy and dry.
Great tent. Great venue. Great story. "You had to be there," they said.
So, we took them at their word, and the idea for a celebratory sweepstakes that literally retraced the steps of the Backpacker Editor's Choice testing team was born.
Created with the invaluable assistance of our new friends in Wales, the Wales Adventure Sweepstakes is the trip of a lifetime for any two backpackers. The fantastic prize package includes all the gear you need: a Sierra Designs Lighting XT 4 Tent; two Sierra Designs Verde 20 sleeping bags, and two sets of Sierra Designs Cyclone Eco Jacket & Pants.
Sweepstakes grand prize winners will also win:
* Airfare for two on Virgin Atlantic Airways.
* Two nights lodging in a luxury yurt at the Graig Wen resort.
* Two 1st Class BritRail FlexiPass for transportation around Wales and to Snowdonia National Park (one of the Seven Wonders of Wales).
* Two nights at Escape, a five-star boutique bed and breakfast, prior to flying home.
Entries will be accepted at www.sierradesigns.com/wales through the end of September. Enter now or forever quit whining about how you never get to go anywhere.
CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE WALES ADVENTURE SWEEPSTAKES.