April '14

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16 • RV PRo • April 2014 rv-pro.com rv-pro.com April 2014 • RV PRo • 17 Flory Group sees itself as an information source to the marine, RV and outdoor industries. It has developed effective public relations programs for its clients and helped hundreds of companies elevate their pres- ence in the market to facilitate sales growth. Founder Jerry Martin (now deceased) worked as the first sales promotion man- ager for Johnson Motors before starting his own agency in Waukegan, Ill. In time, he also opened a retail store and sold boating and camping goods. In 1969, he loaded his wife, their seven children and two neighbor kids into a 27-foot Ford Condor motorhome and went on family excursions around the country. ese trips became his oldest daughter Laura's introduction to the RV lifestyle and to America itself. Now owner of the agency, Laura Martin oversees a staff of eight that represents more than 40 clients in the RV, boating and outdoor recreation field in the U.S. and abroad. She has fond memories of those trips with the Condor, which became, by default, Martin's first RV industry client. All these family vacations were also working trips, such as annual meetings of the Out- door Writers Association of America. Jerry Martin also helped found the Marine Retailers of the Americas and was an early member of the forerunners to the National Marine Manufacturers Associa- tion and National Marine Representatives Association (NMRA). e agency serves as the NMRA's headquarters and execu- tive director. Laura Martin joined her father at the agency in 1982. "We've always been boating-oriented, and like so many of our clients, also sell into the RV industry," Martin notes. "It's been interesting to differentiate this industry from other industries. Dad's sales promotion background has always colored what we do. He geared the company to working with smaller businesses that need to be flexible. "All we do is PR work, and primarily product promotion," she adds. "We don't do any advertising or catalog promotion or special events. It's David vs. Goliath in a way. We don't sign any annual contracts so we have to prove ourselves day in, day out." Through the years, the audience has remained the same. "Our audience is the RV magazines that focus on the activities of RVing, as well as any freelance writers and bloggers," Martin says. "If there is a local news angle for one of our clients, of course, that goes to local media. Primarily, we try to expose their products to as broad an audience as possible; mainstream pubs for consumer are equally as important as fringe outlets for writers who touch on that local area." Martin stresses with her writers the importance of brevity, a trait handed down by her father, whose style was the envy of college writing instructors. Brevity and keeping the written word interesting are "important elements in everything we do," she says. Martin calls the agency's website "not a fancy selling site for us, but a resource library for the media. All of our news releases are posted there. If you have to go to work at 3 in the morning, it's there. We can't survive without our clients, but we also can't survive without good, recep- tive media folks." rough the years, one of the agency's most significant RV clients was Norcold. "We worked with Dick Matz (now deceased) and Van Chamberlain, both of whom were instrumental in getting the RV industry to promote itself " dating back to the late 1970s and early 1980s, she recalls. "ey really talked the talk as far as industry cooperation was concerned." Current Martin Flory Group RV cli- ents include Aqua-Hot Heating Systems (in-floor hydronic heating), Beckson Mfg. (components), Conntek Integrated Solu- tions (power cords), Davis Instruments, Hubbell (power cords), Dr. Shrink (shrink wrap), RV Products (Coleman Mach RV air conditioners), Shurhold Industries (cleaning tools for RVs and boats), Hella (New Zealand LED lighting) and MaxxAir, (an Airxcel company). Martin's agency maintains an extraordi- nary global contact list with some 45,000 names, of which about 2,500 have ties to the domestic RV industry. Just keeping the list up to date is virtually a fulltime job. She and Kelly Flory, the firm's general manager and "chariot driver," attend trade shows to keep their company's name top of mind in the RV industry. "We try to help businesses expose their products to the widest possible audience," Martin explains. "At the end of the fiscal year, what counts is the bottom line, not fancy awards or distinctions. We are very cognizant our clients want us to help them sell more products to the consuming public and at the same time elevate the awareness of the activity in the industry to audiences that normally wouldn't talk about RVing." e advent of social media has affected the way her industry does business, but she concedes that her agency remains very traditional in one sense. "Our clients are asking many, many more questions," she says. "However, we don't manage social media at all in our agency. We let other people do it. We will feed them all the info, but we're down and dirty publicity; we've never been on the leading edge of anything and frankly, that is by design. We have to stay affordable for our smaller clients and we know how to be very efficient in what we do." The traditional way of doing things in these changing times has not hurt the agency, Martin maintains. "Even within the last five years of hor- rible economic news, we as an agency continued to add new clients, and new businesses were put into motion. It is still rewarding. ere are new people coming into the industry with new ideas and things to do. There is always an influx of new blood and ideas. at's what America was built on," she says. Martin admits she is cutting back on her personal involvement in the agency and realizes a younger generation will be dictating the agency's future. Change is rampant in her industry and she's uncertain where it's headed in the long term. "Where will my company be in five NewsMAKERS RVPApr.indd 16 3/19/14 3:14 PM

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