We Helped This Flagship Vermont Attraction Say "Goodnight Irene" to the Hurricane that Forced a Nine-Month Closure.
Perched dramatically above a waterfall on the banks of the Ottauquechee River in central Vermont, the Simon Pearce Mill at Quechee is among the top three tourist attractions in the state. It welcomes 300,000+ visitors each year to its interactive glassblowing facility, flagship retail store, and Zagat-rated destination restaurant.
On August 28, 2011, Hurricane Irene devastated The Mill, completely destroying the glassblowing facility and lower level kitchens, and flooding the retail/restaurant space with water, debris, and mud. Forced to close on the eve of foliage season, The Mill was projected to take nine months to recover – restoring the historic building and rebuilding the glassblowing facility from scratch. A beloved tourist destination in Vermont with high brand recognition, The Mill's closure quickly became the favorite topic of post-crisis news media coverage. A strong relaunch campaign was needed to overcome the widespread dramatic footage of the river breaking through the Mill's walls.
Select areas of The Mill were reopened gradually during the nine-month period as they were restored. But for maximum PR impact, we chose not to make news out of these small wins, protecting the power of the announcement to be made when the final, most important portion of The Mill reopened in May/June 2012 (the visitor-interactive glassblowing facility). To that end, we lined up a powerful list of exclusive print in Simon Pearce's key markets, as well as multiple TV and radio interviews for the two-week period before the opening on June 2.
The results? In addition to the New York Times exclusive announcement on May 27 and the Boston Globe front-page travel section feature on June 3, the debut of the new Mill was featured on The Weather Channel, Vermont Public Radio and a host of New England broadcast news segments. Syndicated print stories appeared through Associated Press and Reuters, and news about the relaunch was shared on more than 100 websites.