Situation Analysis

The Maine Office of Tourism (MOT) has always recognized the advantage of having Stephen King, one of the most well-recognized names in horror novels and books, reside in Maine. In 2017, with the release of the highly anticipated remake of the movie It based on King’s bestselling novel, the Marshall Communications team on behalf of the Maine Office of Tourism decided to leverage the movie and its popularity in pitching efforts. In January of 2018 at TravMedia’s International Media Marketplace in New York City, we pitched SK Tours in Bangor, a Stephen King-based tour that travels to actual locations included in King’s stories, to freelance writer Lois Alter Mark. The writer was eager to write about the tour, featuring it in USA Today 10 Best. Because little photography of the tour’s site locations were available, Marshall Communications took the photography needed in the proper specifications to complete the article. The motivation behind pitching SK Tours was two-pronged: 1) it allowed MOT to capitalize on the recent release of one of King’s most popular books/movies, making the tours timely and relevant, and 2) showcase an activity in Maine that is considered quirky and not as widely known by travelers.


The campaign’s intent was to showcase an area of Maine that is not as well-traveled by tourists as some of the other regions of the state, and to feature the tours as an off-beat activity that appeals to a different audience—one that is eager to explore beyond lighthouses and lobster. One of the largest components of this project, allowing the pitch to be timely, was to leverage the recent release of the remake of It.


We worked closely with Lois Alter Mark to develop the USA Today 10 Best article by providing an overall direction on the types of locations along the SK Tour, taking the photography needed to support the piece, drafting a write-up about each of the stops on the tour that would be featured within the article and working in collaboration with SK Tours owner and tour guide. In addition to the 10 Best article itself, we retweeted the author’s tweet on Twitter on VisitMaine’s Twitter account to further increase exposure.


  • In addition to the actual USA Today article that ran, three other outlets picked it up resulting in:
    • 884 million potential online readership
    • 781,000 estimated coverage views
    • 1,000 social shares
  • The USA Today 10 Best article linked back to the MOT official website,
  • The writer, Lois Alter Mark, tweeted the article to her 17,500 followers on Twitter resulting in 17 retweets and 31 likes
  • On behalf of MOT, Marshall Communications retweeted Lois Alter Mark’s tweet to 34,400 followers, resulting in 127 retweets and 63 likes