Wednesday, December 19, 2007

AEDC - Ron Paul Blimp launch puts Elizabeth City in national spotlight

Elizabeth Evans
Cahoon & Cross Marketing Consultants
Phone: (757) 625-7068 direct line
Wayne Harris, AEDC
(888) 338-1678 or (252) 338-0169

Ron Paul Blimp launch puts Elizabeth City in national spotlight

Dec 14, 2007 - Santa brought an early gift of national media attention to Elizabeth City last week in the publicity run-up to the launch of the nation's first blimp involved in a presidential campaign.

With camera crews and reporters from a dozen media outlets looking on, the Airship Management Services blimp, larger than the Goodyear blimp, rose into a misty winter sky over Elizabeth City Friday morning to the cheers of a hundred or so supporters of presidential hopeful Ron Paul.

Within hours, the Elizabeth City Area Convention and Visitors Bureau's Jessica Faulkingham had posted this video of the launch to the CVB's YouTube account. And within hours after that CNN had called the CVB for permission to use the video in its news broadcasts and on its Web site. As of Friday afternoon there was an unconfirmed report that Kate Couric planned to use a segment filmed by WTKR NewsChannel 3 in Norfolk on the CBS Evening News. [December 18 update: By Tuesday morning the CVB's YouTube video had been viewed nearly 12,000 times.]

The Albemarle Economic Development Commission used the national media attention to highlight the Elizabeth City area's long history of aviation accomplishments, its unique relationship with the airship industry, and recent successes associated with its $10.4-million aviation park. Coordinating with the Elizabeth City Area CVB, which put up a special Media Accommodations page on its Web site, the AEDC issued Web-site updates daily from the time the story broke on December 9 until the launch this morning. Cahoon and Cross, the public relations firm for both agencies, aggressively pushed the updates out to the national and regional media.

"It's a first, actually, for a presidential candidate to use a blimp in the campaign," Elizabeth City Mayor Steve Atkinson said. "It's a great day for the community. A lot of people who are making this thing work are from Elizabeth City."

Airship Management Services is leasing the Ron Paul Blimp to Paul supporters. Neighboring TCOM, L.P. manufactured the blimp's envelope.

Prior to the launch, Atkinson and Dave Thomas of Elizabeth City's Rose Buddies presented the pilots of the Ron Paul Blimp with good-luck roses and wished them godspeed. For those who have never had the pleasure of docking in Elizabeth City overnight, the Rose Buddies are famous for welcoming boaters to the city's "harbor of hospitality" with roses and hors d'oeuvres.

Among the national stories that specifically mentioned Elizabeth City prior to the launch were:
ABC News: Supporters Pump Ron Paul Full of Hot Air
Reuters: Presidential Candidate Ron Paul Has a Blimp Ron Paul blimp charts unprecedented course
John Henderson's excellent write-up on the launch in the Daily Advance can be found here.

As of Friday afternoon, Cahoon and Cross's latest press release on the launch had been opened by 93 media outlets. We'll update who actually ran stories next week.

For additional information, contact the Albemarle Economic Development Commission ( at 1-888-338-1678 or (252) 338-0169.

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