Remember when the TV show Good Morning America escorted more than 4 million viewers from their living rooms for a week-long "Great Alaska Adventure" to handpicked destinations in Southcentral and Southeast? Or what about when Martha Stewart, the domestic empire maven, remotely broadcast her cooking show from various locations, along the way whipping up pancakes with 100-year-old sourdough starter and sharing her salmon filleting secrets? You might remember these shows, but unless you're in the advertising or public relations industry, chances are you have no idea who the mastermind was behind what are still considered two of the biggest contributions to growing the state's visitor industry. And it may be safe to say that no other media exposure in Alaska's history has had a greater impact.
If you ask Robbie Graham, founder and co-owner of the former Bernholz and Graham, one of the top PR firms in the country and responsible for the two broadcast coups, that's how it should be.
"That's how B&G always went about doing business," she says of the firm she left last year, passing the torch to Jennifer Thompson who has since branded it as Thompson & Co. "With all of the self-promotion in the PR world now, it's not about the client as much as it is the about the agency," Graham says. "There is a grace in putting others first and when it comes to clients, it should always be about them. Our thanks is really in the recognition of the work well done and knowing you're as good as anyone else out there."
Although the broadcasts aired in 1994 and 2000, respectively, the exposure from these two public relations successes continue to be--as Martha would say--a good thing, as year after year, many of the viewers continue to be motivated by the memories of the shows and book their vacations here. The projects, which were for the firm's clients the former Alaska Tourism Marketing Council (ATMC)--now the Alaska Travel Industry Association--and Tourism North not only resulted in weeks worth of hits to the website and follow-up stories on the celebrity events, but they also spawned new small businesses started by several of the vendors who worked on making all the technical aspects and logistics of each show come together.
Breaking new ground, thinking big, never missing even the smallest detail --this has been Graham's trademark since she and her late business partner Bonnie Bernholz opened the agency in 1989.