Earlier today bike blogger Mark Ames wrote on Twitter: "Great @carltonreid tweets at #dvpresscamp jolly in Utah. But the industry can’t afford advocacy? Pull the other one!"
He also said: "Seems to me if industry is enjoying the fruits of a bike boom, least they can do is kick in extra cash for advocacy. Clearly plenty about!"
Via industry organizations Bikes Belong in the US and Bike Hub in the UK, the bicycle industry spends millions on advocacy.
Blogger Mark Treasure replied to Ames’ tweet from earlier today saying "It’s certainly an unfortunately-timed jolly, coming as it does so soon after Danny’s article."
This was a reference to an article in BikeBiz by @citycyclists, who complained the bicycle industry ""seems content to maximise sales to consumers and ignore the role it could have to make things better for cycling in the UK." He said the UK cycle industry had a "moral responsibility" to support "initiatives that will really make the UK a place where people cycle as a daily activity."
While for some bike bloggers, overseas trade shows are "jollies", this isn’t how the industry sees them.
Lance Camisasca, organizer of PressCamp being held this week in Utah, said calling press trips "jollies" was "short-sighted":
"Bike brands need journalists to communicate with consumers about new products. If brands don’t excite consumers they’ll sell less and there will be less money to spend on advocacy."
PressCamp is a US trade show and invites 30 editors from around the world to see new product launches – and ride bikes – at the Deer Valley Resort in Utah. Mornings are spent with brands in their condos, learning about new products; afternoons are spent riding the bikes talked about in the morning.
The US has a very active colloboration between advocacy and the bicycle industry. Bikes Belong is sponsored by the US bicycle industry with "the goal of putting more people on bicycles more often." Bikes Belong has nearly 400 members, including exhibitors at PressCamp, and has 38 staff and runs programs such as the Safe Routes to School National Partnership team. It has a $7.5 million annual operating budget, all contributed by the bicycle industry.
For the extensive coverage of PressCamp on BikeBiz, see this round-up.
After the publication of this article, blogger Mark Ames responded, telling the bicycle industry "supporting a local cycling initiative carries far greater return for your investment than more traditional ways of trying to gain exposure."
"The US bike industry and the US advocacy scene have always been more organised, and certainly there are lessons there for the rest of us to learn from.
"More interestingly, with the rise of prominent bike bloggers and the popularity of social media among upwardly mobile cyclists, clever businesses can get better return for their dollars by creating interesting content about their product which can "go viral" and be shared online among consumers for free. When the tag line of one of the world’s biggest companies is "Don’t be evil", there’s clearly a financial return for being seen to be switched on to the issues that effect your consumers. I’d argue that a good story about how your product is supporting a local cycling initiative carries far greater return for your investment than more traditional ways of trying to gain exposure. These days your product has to have a feel good story behind it, and buying in to cycle advocacy is a cheap and effective way of doing this."
In 2011 Ames urged industry executives to get a better grip of their online profiles and the potential power within them, writing "Social Media Sells" for BikeBiz.
Pic credit: Billy Michels