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April '14

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rv-pro.com April 2014 • RV PRo • 15 was Kyle Hannon at the Chamber, the folks from EverGreen RV, Dorinda Heiden-Guss with the EDC, Realtor John Letherman, Mayor Dick Moore and the Common Council." After some discussions with community leaders and some thoughtful planning, the team made the call and spoke with Huck- abee's producers and convinced them to bring his talk show to Elkhart. It was the first in a series of "Save Our Town" specials Fox aired that spring. e show was taped outside the RV/ MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart on the after- noon of March 21 for showing that same evening. Classic Communications worked with the team to line up many of the guests on the show including two of its clients, All American Homes and EverGreen RV. But unlike Obama's message, which dwelled on how bad things were, Huckabee tried to show the positive side of Elkhart and how the city of 52,000 residents was trying to dig itself out of a deep economic hole. Fittingly, the hour-long program was taped under clear, sunny skies and in front of an appreciative crowd of some 700 people. The crowd was attentive, applauding on cue and generally supportive of Huckabee's mantra of limited govern- ment in the economy. Huckabee scored points early on with his audience, remarking, "The program today is in large part because we've heard so many people around the country coming to say they were ready for the funeral service of Elkhart. Can I tell you a little secret? When we got here, we found a strong pulse and we canceled the memorial service." His encouraging words drew some of the loudest applause of the day. "Huckabee coming here and showing all the companies that were still highly functional was kind of a turning point. It brought the right kind of attention to Elkhart," Barger recalls. Pioneer Agency Still Active For every Bret Michaels or Mike Huck- abee media bonanza, there are thousands of routine services, such as press releases, collateral material, social media posts, and email blasts that PR agencies must create. One of the most active, behind-the- scenes providers of written news releases is the Chicago-area-based agency Martin Flory Group. In business since 1962, origi- nally as Jerry Martin Associates, the Martin Huckabee Promotes the RV Industry Another agency serving the RV industry, Classic Communications Inc., based in Niles, Mich., stepped up during one of the industry's darkest hours. Agency owner Ron Barger was on a team of community leaders who played integral roles in bringing Fox TV's polit- ical talk show host Mike Huckabee and his much-needed "pep talk" to Elkhart in the spring of 2009. When President Obama visited the city on Feb. 9, 2009, (his first official visit out- side of Washington, D.C., since his inaugu- ration) and brought lots of media attention to the city's plight. Not all the attention was beneficial, however. Elkhart became known as the "epicenter of the recession" and media reports painted the community as dying. One of Barger's clients at the time, the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County (EDC), wanted to find a way to counter the bad press. Planners seized on the idea of luring Huckabee to the RV capital. "It was a real community team effort. We were one of many who helped bring the show to town," Barger recalls. "ere Laura Martin (seated at right) is pictured with Kelly Flory; the two are the owners of the Martin Flory Group. The PR firm is one of the most active, behind-the-scenes providers of written news releases for the marine, RV and outdoor industries. RVPApr.indd 15 3/19/14 1:35 PM

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