My dream for May as Bike Month is a dream of creativity and collaboration in bike advocacy, taking a page or two from the focus and long term planning of the top fashion and design campaigns.
Imagine if this year Bike Month is written about in newspapers across California and the country! It can happen if we work together, and we start now.
Imagine if next year celebrities such as the hit T.V. show Castle's lovely Stana Katic, and Beyonce are featured on the cover of magazines like Marie Claire and Vogue! It could happen if we start thinking and planning strategically now.
Both Stana and Beyonce love to ride their bikes - and Stana has even started her own Los Angeles based non-profit in collaboration with like minded friends called the "Alternative Travel Project" which has come up with the great idea of asking people to go #CARFREEMARCH for seven days. Think you can't do it in Los Angeles? Think again! Stana's done it! Take a look at the interview she did with On the Red Carpet - or see the video embedded on the front of our website.
On that note I'm very excited collaboration and media synergy coming together for us here at Pedal Love and Women on Bikes California. This includes our L.A. Times piece above which came out on March 1st but was months in the making - I'll share more about a little bit further down in this post.
The most important point I want to make about this L.A. Times piece, and all media placement, is that it's usually not luck that makes it happen. Yes, sometimes a piece or two falls in your lap, but for ongoing media placement an understanding of what sparks the media's curiosity in the first place is needed - and then planning and focused pitching make it happen.
And what's even better is when the media becomes an ally. If you haven't seen the cool new piece in the San Francisco Chronicle on bike style (both in print and online) check it out! Our own Janet Lafleur of "One Woman. Many Bikes" blog here at Pedal Love, and her own "Ladyfleur" blog is featured in a gorgeous red hat!
If you are someone who feels, as I do, that broad media and ongoing media coverage is crucial to the successful growth of bicycling in California (and the country as a whole) I hope you'll join Charlie Gandy, Allan Crawford, Maria Sipin, Kellie Morris and yours truly for our groundbreaking and collaborative "Active Living Plugged In" training in collaboration with the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition, Bikeable Communinties, and Streetsblog L.A. on March 15 & 16 in downtown L.A. at the LACBC's headquarters.
Not local enough to join us? Not to worry - we'll be traveling around the state to host more Active Living Training Camps over the next three years. And I'm pondering putting together a special California media strategy conference call or webinar in either late March or early April. Make sure to sign up for our newsletter to be kept up to date!
But what if you're someone who doesn't understand why the heck the media still counts so much - and yes I'm including the old fashioned print media in this. New audiences my dear readers. Media, especially the emotionally engaging storytelling of the lifestyle media, has millions and millions of readers. Think fashion, design, and health. Let's take a look at a few of the top Conde Nast media outlets: Vogue has a 12.3 million print audience distribution and an average online monthly audience of 2.2 million, Vanity Fair has a 6.4 million print audience distribution, and an average online monthly audience of 4 million. According to the L.A. Times' media kit they reach 8.6 million adult readers weekly, and they have 19 million unique visitors monthly online.
Think about it, there are millions of people out there who read these types of media outlets online, in print, on television and listen on radio, who ride bikes and have no idea what the heck bike advocacy is and that we're warmly inviting them to get involved. They can't respond if they don't know about us. There are even more millions who read, watch, listen to these media outlets who don't ride a bike yet (or haven't in a long time)...but approached in the right way will.
Above is a video from the new Shinola ad campaign photographed by legendary fashion photographer Bruce Weber and including top model Carolyn Murphy. Their new spring ads images and videos became available online in February because March is the launch of spring fashion lines in fashion print publications.
While I would have preferred the campaign had selected a top African American model to focus on for the campaign (and there are more and more these days - hurrah!) or even discovered a young woman locally to be featured, I totally understand why they chose to focus on a big name model like Carolyn Murphy - brand awareness. Shinola has hit the pavement running with their watch, bike, leather products company out of Detroit. In the March issue of Vogue they have an ad that is several pages long (and yes the bike is featured). They have achieved stellar media placements over the past couple of years.
FYI Banana Republic also has an ad in this month's Vogue that is several pages long and also includes a bike.
The big print magazines plan their editorial six months in advance, which means that Bike Month campaigns would have to be ready to preview to those outlets by November, which means that they'd have to be organized a few months before that. Actually September at Interbike and Pro Walk/Pro Bike: Pro Place 2014 would be great places to debut new Bike Month images, videos and collateral.
How the L.A. Times Blog Happened
On March 1st Robert Greene of the L.A. Times posted his very thoughtful and articulate piece in Opinion LA feature both Charlie Gandy and myself: "What Long Beach can teach us about cycling and politics." This is one of the first piece in the Times that has really delved into the Long-Beach-becoming bike-friendly story and we so appreciate how well Robert synthesized all of the information we shared with him over a 3+ hour bike ride and shorts visits with key figures along the way. We are especially grateful that he included Mark Bixby in the story.
This March is three years since we lost Mark, our charismatic visionary for all things bicycling here Long Beach. The loss is still felt greatly, illustrating how much of a positive impact one person can make. Mark was a consummate collaborator. For those of us who had the privilege to know him, even briefly, we felt empowered by his willingness to welcome us in.
My outreach to the L.A. Times ramped up and broadened a few months prior to CalBike's California by Bike summit last November. Robert Greene is the one who responded and came to the summit to find out more on what the heck bicycle advocacy actually is. He has been part of the editorial team that created the Times groundbreaking #roadshare blog column. While some of the blogs felt like they continued what we feel is the unproductive "car vs. bike" angle, many of the pieces were really well researched and again thoughtful, illustrating beautifully what well trained journalists can bring to the table. We are very grateful to Robert and Carla Hall and the other journalists who made it happen. We hope the times will consider bringing #roadshare back for May, and then in the future in a broader livability conversation incorporating walking, transit and design.
In particular I'm very pleased and excited about the February 26th blog post in the L.A. Times "L.A.'s plan to make Figueroa a 'complete street" makes sense" most importantly ended with the Times editorial team coming out in support of the concept of complete streets in general.
This is a huge win for L.A. county in general and the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition, Los Angeles Walks and others who have worked so hard for so many years to make the region safer for those who bike, walk and take transit in specific. I was also very excited to come across the January 11th piece in Henry Grabar's "Dream City" blog on Salon.com: "L.A. ditches traffic jams: A hollywood renaissance for biking and walking"
Stay tuned for Part II and our new Pedal Love show on Bike Talk!