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By Chris Lynch, APR, Fellow PRSA Falls Communications and PRSA Cleveland Programming Chair

As this year’s Program Chair for the Greater Cleveland chapter of PRSA, the goal is to bring our members unique, valuable experiences in programming We recently met up with members from the Akron PRSA chapter for our first ‘field trip’ to the Goodyear Airship Center in Mogador, Ohio.

And what a trip it was. Many of us probably didn’t know—or heaven forbid, have forgotten—that one of the, if not the ultimate, brand marketing icons has been parked right in our own backyard. The Goodyear Blimp has set out from its Wingfoot Lake hangar since 1925. It’s an icon synonymous with its great brand namesake.  We were lucky enough to see it up close and personal. PRSA members in attendance also received an advance SNEAK PEEK of the latest addition to the fleet, a semi-rigid airship now nearing its final construction phase. It will be christened in just a few short weeks.

Joining us to present this grand experience was Emily Cropper, Sr. Manager of Airship Communications for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.

She manages a team of six with oversight of all PR, Community Relations and Communications across the three Goodyear bases. She recently led all aspects of a Blimp Christening event that resulted in 530MM impressions across numerous communications channels.

Through careful planning, Emily works with management to ensure the blimp program is consistent with corporate strategies. She also manages the implementation of this strategy to deliver and grow targeted value across media, PR, customer integration, charities and community partners. And the latter categories is how I guess we at PRSA all fit into the equation when we asked her about ‘Can we come down to visit?’

Emily also manages the blimp’s aerial coverage of live, televised events– so that same evening, as we finished our tour, the existing ship, Wingfoot One, moored just outside the hanger headed off to Cleveland to cover the Game 3 of the NBA Finals. (And as we all know, the most exciting thing about that night might have been watching the blimp take off.) Pilot

During Emily’s presentation prior to our blimp tour, she provided a terrific presentation of the brand’s entire airship program, demonstrating how Goodyear uses the Blimp program to Engage, Spotlight and Reward its various audiences. These elements work to increase consumer awareness of Goodyear’s brand while driving customer engagement and loyalty. “More Driven”, indeed

Some 80+ PRSA attendees had a chance to get up close and personal with the Blimp, and yes, the selfies were flying, too. Of note, Goodyear was kind enough to donate two ‘seats’ to an upcoming flight of the new airship. Congratulations to our lucky winner: Ann Ream of Summit County Children’s Services.

We hope to continue to provide our members with high-value (and equally high-flying) strategic communications-inspired programming in the year to come!