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Chicago Fireboat Tours

Telling a unique story for a moving piece of history with public relations services

Bettie Bomb has worked with Chicago Fireboat Tours, a historic fireboat named Fred A. Busse built in 1937, for three seasons promoting the tour boat held at DuSable Harbor in downtown Chicago.

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Goals for Hiring a PR Agency

Share the backstory of the historic fireboat named Fred A. Busse.

Showcase how Chicago Fireboat Tours is a 100% veteran-owned business.

Tell the unique story behind Chicago Fireboat Tour.

Encourage more people to want to ride on a piece of floating history.

Company Overview

Built in 1936, the Fred A. Busse was the largest diesel-powered Fireboat in the world at the time, and served the Chicago Fire Department from 1937–1981. Today, it has been converted into a passenger vessel. Owned by Navy Veterans Erich Totsch and Ray Novak, Chicago Fireboat Tours offers historical tours, sunset cruises, and more on Lake Michigan and the Chicago River.

The Need

Chicago Fireboat Tours hired Bettie Bomb because they were kicking off their first full season and needed a Chicago PR agency to help them earn quality media coverage and boost ticket sales. Unfortunately,  the Covid-19 pandemic happened where lockdown policies and social distancing requirements brought unexpected challenges to promoting a cruise company.

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Pandemic Public Relations Strategy For Cruise Companies

First, we pushed the season’s starting point from May to June, as Chicago gradually experimented with outdoor activities with social distancing and face covering mandates.

Aligning with the public health requirements and consumer sentiments, we worked with local and regional media outlets to promote Chicago Fireboat Tours as a safe outdoor activity. We focused on owner Ray & Erich talking about how their capacity was at 50% and that the company was abiding by the city’s COVID guidelines.

In 2022, we also introduced the experience to local and regional lifestyle influencers to exponentially grow Chicago Fireboat Tour’s exposure.

Our Results

Featured Pieces

Featured on almost every network, including a full in-depth feature on WGN complete with historical clippings, audio, and interviews

Media Coverage

Established the brand through digital and traditional coverage. Every year, Chicago Fireboat Tours have earned more media coverage.

Ticket Sales

Boosted ticket sales via traditional public relations services with ticket sales that surpassed the previous year each time.

It’s on fire!

Have a cruise line or tour service ready to take off with media coverage combined with digital marketing campaigns? Shoot us a message and tell us your story!