How Carmel-by-the-Sea used media relations to tune-up its romantic reputation

A strong set of storylines helped reposition the vacation destination.

Carmel-by-the-Sea's PR campaign helped change the narrative.

Couples have long been enticed by Carmel-by-the-Sea, a charming one-square mile seaside village in California. Although Carmel is consistently ranked as one of the most romantic destinations worldwide, its official travel site, Visit Carmel ( set a goal to capture a wider audience of travelers.

Five storylines positioned Carmel as:

  • A village with fairytale-like architecture
  • Easily accessible to wine, culinary, and art history experiences
  • A destination that features secret passageways, cobblestone streets, boutique shopping and distinctive hotels
  • A place of idyllic sandy beaches, outdoor activities and downtown walkability
  • A pet-friendly village

One of The Abbi Agency’s objectives was to secure ink in “best of” lists at top-notch travel magazines. It created a digital public relations campaign that used storylines and messaging from Visit Carmel’s marketing to reach its target audiences online. In addition to obtaining information, online visitors had the ability to immediately click through to



To achieve its objectives, the agency established an online media room, organized individual itineraries for journalists and used the power of videos and social media to showcase boutique hotels and inns, rare experiences, and unparalleled food and wine offerings.

The campaign generated 69 digital placements and nine print placements. Sixty-eight percent of the digital placements drove audiences to The publications have a combined online readership of 1.82 billion, resulting in 3.42 million estimated coverage views.

Visit Carmel also experienced growth across Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Beyond the 15.7% uptick in total audiences, digital channels garnered more than 31 million net impressions, a 49% increase. There was also a 36.4% uptick in engagements over the prior year.

Accolades include landing on Travel + Leisure’s “11 Best Small Towns in America,” Condé Nast Traveler’s “6 U.S. Cities That Are Full of European Charm” and Fodor’s Travel Guide’s “20 of the best seaside towns in the U.S. for fall getaways.”

For its ability to drive visitation and bookings, the agency was named a winner in the Public Relations Campaign category of PR Daily’s Social Media & Digital Awards.


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