45th Balloon Fiesta Secures Top National Coverage

Challenge: As agency of record for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, The Garrity Group was engaged to handle all traditional and digital media relations for the 45th annual event in 2016. TGG began by conducting an audit of the past year’s social and traditional media coverage. Following an audit of all media methods, our findings revealed that while coverage numbers were impressive, a lot of the coverage came from organizations who had covered the event in the past – that we need to broaden our outreach when it came to target media, to increase quality of organizations and stories generated.


The Garrity Group developed an integrated communication approach that included a series of tactics geared at broadening the media reach for Balloon Fiesta, including:

  • Targeted media outreach - developed a “top 100” media outreach list. The approach focused on reaching out to media who hadn’t engaged with Balloon Fiesta before or who hadn’t covered the event in many years.
  • Year-Round Engagement: Ahead of the event, we put out daily “pilot welcome” announcements which welcomed every pilot individually with an image of their balloon and hometown.
  • Live, consistent and relevant content: Our team developed a thorough content calendar that engaged the audience throughout the event, continuing even when flying events were canceled due weather.
  • Compelling images: We posted photos and videos throughout the year and encouraged sharing and fan posts.
  • Graphics: TGG designed custom graphics with social media networks and the hashtag #BalloonFiesta.


  • Targeted and varied media outreach resulted in a total of 1,049 media organization registrations (a 4 percent increase) and a significant boost in quality of media coverage in 2016, including coverage from: USA Today, Al Jazeera, National Geographic Travel, CBS Sunday Morning, Associated Press International, Reuters, MSN Australia, Japan Times, Euro News, Washington Post and more.
  • Balloon Fiesta’s Facebook following increased by 11 percent Balloon Fiesta’s Twitter account gained new followers by 45 percent. Instagram saw a 60 percent increase.

High Profile Media Coverage: USA Today, Huffington Post, Big News Network, Meri News India, Taipei Times Online, The Canadian Press, Associated Press International, Chicago Daily Herald, North Korea Times, People, Mail Online UK, ABC News, One News Page United Kingdom, Washington Post, National Geographic Travel, Yahoo! UK and Ireland, Yahoo! Singapore, Yahoo! Finance, Reuters UK, Reuters, EuroNews, PressTV.com, BBC, PR Newswire, Mail Online UK, MSN Australia, Noticias Republica Dominicana, International Business Times, POPSUGAR Smart Living, CBS News, CBS Los Angeles, CBS New York, CBS Boston, CBS Philadelphia, Telegraph.co.uk, Daily Telegraph Australia, Japan Times

Topics of Focus: Event-specific details, social media, traffic/weather, America’s Challenge, contests, ride incidents, Music Fiesta, 2017 dates and theme

Top onsite media/live reports: National Geographic Travel, USA Today, Al Jazeera English, Euro News, PBS