Press Camp was the idea of industry veteran Lance Camisasca, former organiser of the Interbike trade show. He created it to give smaller suppliers the chance to host editors and journalists on the sort of product launch platforms only the biggest bike brands can normally afford. For journalists it would be the chance to cut down the number of launch events they’d otherwise have to attend: mid-summer is a ‘trainwreck’ of competing events, said Camisasca.
In the third week of June, 20 journalists – three from Europe – descended on Sun Valley resort, Idaho. This is a posh ski resort with MTB and road trails to die for. 19 bicycle industry brands funded the three-day event. Scott USA, based in Sun Valley, invited some of the editors for a pre-PressCamp camp which, appropriately enough, involved some actual camping (in Nemo tents –some of them with neat inflatable tubes instead of the usual metal poles).
The brands at Press Camp included BMC Racing, Cannondale, GT, Mongoose, Schwinn, and Sugoi; Delta 7 Sports, DT Swiss, Gore Bike Wear, Gore RideOn Cables, Lazer Helmets, Pedro’s, Saris Cycling Group, Scott USA, and Smith Optics. Journalists attended from bicycle magazines but – critically – also from market-expanding mainstream magazines such as Wiredand Outside.
The editors had one-on-one condo meetings with all the manufacturers, as well as demonstration time on 2010 road bikes and MTBs.
Richard Pestes, editor and publisher of Pezcycling.com, said: "In the global biz of cycling, it’s rare that media and manufacturers meet with enough time to really get to know each other – and the best place to do this is either on the bike or ‘after hours’ over a meal and a cocktail."
Christopher Zigmont, CEO of Pedro’s, is an advisor to PressCamp, having previously worked with Camisasca when the two were at Mavic. "We had the luxury of a big company behind us to fly journalists on private press launches. Not many bike companies can do that anymore, hence PressCamp,” he explains.
“The timing, for both manufacturer and publication, from an economic perspective, came full song in December. Everybody’s resources were stretched really thin. We were all making tough choices, to stay lean.
"If you’re a manufacturer, the first thing you cut is marketing, but that has a ripple effect. With PressCamp, we can supply 19 stories in one location, and it pays dividends for both journals and the manufacturers."
Camisasca said he was very pleased with the way PressCamp worked but the acid test would be column inches: “When we monitor the amount of press coverage we got, we’ll know if PressCamp worked.”
He’s already planning next year’s event, probably for the same time slot and maybe the same location”
"We had 19 brands represented. If we had had 23 to 25 would it have been a failure? No. We need to expand the schedule and bring in a few more brands, but there’s a limit to an event like this. What made it magical, was it was very intimate. I’ve never directed an event where I could address all 70 people involved at once. Interbike has 20,000 people involved.”
Sun Valley got the thumbs up from editors and exhibitors but may not feature as the 2010 location, claims Camisisca: "I would like to come back here. The riding’s epic, the scenery’s beautiful, the resort was very accommodating. What might be right for this event is to move it to different places, to keep it fresh.
"What we do know is that we got the date right. The third week of June works extremely well. July is a train wreck with so many events. In August it’s very difficult to get all the print materials available for the trade shows."
Editors and exhibitors have told Camisisca that the event pushed all of their buttons: “We had very positive feedback from both sides. Lots of editors came up and said they appreciated the opportunity; it helped their ability to work through this tough economy. Lots of magazines are struggling with their budgets. It’s time-effective to see 19 brands all in one place. Manufacturers realise going out to see media outlets one-on-one is tough.
"PressCamp felt like a family. It was about building relationships, not just showing product."
Richard Pestes being shown Camelbak’s latest packs by Seth Beiden Editors were given the opportunity to test 2010 models Smith Optics’ Chopper Pedro’s was just one of the suppliers demo-ing new products at the debut PressCamp
PRESS CAMP ‘09 HIGHLIGHTS
GT launched the Fury DH bike, a full-carbon rig with a Kevlar strip under the downtube to deflect dings. The 8.5-inch-travel bike weighs just under 40 lbs, and according to GT, making the monocoque frame from carbon was for the anti-vibration ride characteristics not just weight-shaving.
Scott USA released its 2010 Genius, now with a metal three-position Traction Control lever which activates both the rear shock and the fork. Other new bikes included the Voltage freeride/slopestyle bike with 180mm rear travel and the Voltage 10 with 140-160mm travel.
Clif Bar introduced Quench, a new bottled 88 per cent organic electrolyte drink; and Clif Shot Bloks in new, handier packaging. Chris Randall, Clif Shot brand manager said the energy food market was doing well in the soft economy:
"Chewables are growing like crazy. Items that cost $1.29 to $1.99 are a different ball game to the bike that costs thousands of dollars or a jacket that costs
Belgian helmet company Lazerbegan making (equestrian) helmets in 1919. The Lazer Rollsys retention system is wire-activated by a one-handed thumb wheel on the top rear of the helmet. Of note, the Rollsys system fits a wide range of headsizes.
The top-end Genesis comes in only two sizes, and the 02 in just one.
Smith Optics – like Scott, also blessed to be based in Sun Valley – launched the new PivLock V90 sunglasses. The arms detach from the lens with 45-degree upward snap.
Pedro’s has updated its master tool kit. It now ships with 65 tools in a tough box. Pedro’s also launched the Tulio, a multi-tool that doubles as a rear QR. Clever.