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Integrated Marketing Communications: C&O Canal Trust


As the Director of Marketing and Communications for the C&O Canal Trust for seven years, I focused on branding the C&O Canal Trust, raising the community's awareness of the Trust's activities and programs and establishing us as THE way to help the C&O Canal through gifts of time and money. A relatively new organization, ​the Trust is the nonprofit partner of the C&O Canal National Historical Park, one of the top ten most visited National Parks in the nation with approximately 5 million visitors each year. My integrated communications and marketing plans for the Trust were multi-pronged, addressing multiple audiences as described below.

Our main constituents were our donors, who were the lifeline of our operation. We fundraised to meet an $800,000 budget, with funds going to support Park priorities, as well as several programs we operates, including the Canal Quarters lockhouse program and our volunteer programs. I worked closely with our Director of Development and President on print and email collateral aimed at educating our donors on our work and inspiring them to continue their support. Our consistent message to this constituent group was that the C&O Canal Trust was the primary way to help the Park. We used the phrase "Love the Park? Help the Trust?" in many of our materials and started a "My Canal" campaign to allow Park lovers to share why the C&O Canal was so special to them. This campaign allowed us to raise $37,000 during our first-ever Canal Giving Days over a week in 2018. 

I also worked closely with our Director of Programs and Partnerships to support volunteer recruitment efforts for our Canal Community Day events, which brought hundreds of volunteers into the Park to help preserve, beautify, and maintain its 184.5 miles. We then folded these volunteers into our ladder of communication in hopes of developing them into donors as well. I also publicized the work being done by the programs department and achieved a variety of press coverage on their work. A sampling of media coverage is included below.

I set a goal to make the C&O Canal Trust's website the one-stop shop for information on visiting the C&O Canal. Because the National Park Service's staff is so small due to cuts in federal appropriations, this is a role we could fill in meeting the needs of Park visitors. To this end, I created a Plan Your Visit website section and companion C&O Canal Explorer mobile app, which contains over 800 points of interest along the C&O Canal's 184.5 miles. They also point visitors to the ten Canal Towns, four counties, and three Heritage Areas our Park passes through, thereby driving tourism off the towpath and into the surrounding communities, which enriches the experience for the Park's visitors and stimulates economic development. During the Park's 50th anniversary in 2021, I worked with the Maryland Office of Tourism and Development and the four local tourism offices (Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, and Allegany) to create a national "C&O Canal Experience" marketing campaign. In collaboration with the Canal Towns Partnership, we launched a C&O Canal Libations Trail and developed trail itineraries. The anniversary yielded a flurry of media attention in both regional and national publications. 


I increased website traffic 492% over seven years through a variety of strategies, but relied heavily on content marketing through our website. We featured a variety of content on the blog: the canal's history, natural and cultural resources, recreational opportunities, trip-planning tips, and more. We used social media and search engine optimization to drive traffic back to our website. I added a Donation Widget to the blog template to monetize our blog traffic more directly. I monitored Google Analytics to determine what content is performing well and used that to guide my content calendar. I also worked closely with the state and county tourism offices to keep them informed of upcoming events and activities that they can publicize for our mutual benefit.

I increased email sign-ups and Facebook likes through a variety of programs aimed at attracting new prospects, including a monthly photo contest that grew our photo catalog and significantly increased our Facebook engagement. For five years, I selected 13 of the contest's photos and published them in an Annual Calendar that sold on our website and in gift shops for $12.95, which added a new revenue stream to our budget. I also developed magnets and stickers that can be seen on bumpers and bikes along the Canal. In 2021, I partnered with Maryland-based Route One Apparel to develop and launch a C&O Canal Apparel Collection, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the C&O Canal Trust.

I handled the planning, budgeting, implementation, and evaluation of all of the Trust's marketing communications efforts, including the writing and graphic design. I managed our web vendor and oversaw all web development, served on the Senior Leadership Team which completed our 2019-2023 Strategic Plan, and led the planning and production of our Park After Dark fundraising gala for three years. I reported to the Trust's President and managed the Communications Committee of the Board of Directors.




Over 7 years



Over 7 years



Over 7 years

Selected Media Features
Trust Awareness
     A National Park That's Ideal for Meditative Walks, The Wall
          Street Journal, April 2021
     C&O Canal Collection Apparel, Montgomery Magazine,
          March 2021
     Canal Quarters and 50th Anniversary, Fox 5 DC, January 2021
     Brody Reppe, Top Kid, WTOP, January 2021
     Towpath Go, WBAL, August 2020
     C&O Canal Trust Podcast, PreserveCast, February 2020
     C&O Canal Trust, Visit Montgomery, October 2019
     C&O Canal/Canal Quarters, AAA Mid-Atlantic, Summer 2019
     Giving Tuesday 2018, Herald-Mail, November 2018
     Park After Dark 2018, Potomac Almanac, September 2018
     C&O Canal Trust, Public Lands Alliance, May 2018
     C&O Canal Giving Days, WDVM, April 2018
     C&O Canal Trust, Herald-Mail, April 2016
     C&O Canal Trust, Montgomery County
          Economic Development Corporation, #moco365
     Park After Dark 2017, Potomac Almanac, September 2017
     C&O Canal Trust, Frederick News-Post, July 2017
     C&O Canal Trust, Cumberland Times-News, June 2017
     Canal For All, LocalDVM, April 2017


50th Anniversary
     C&O Canal Libations Trail, NBC 4, March 2021
     C&O Canal, Outside Magazine, February 2021
     C&O Canal Libations Trail, Fox 5 DC, February 2021
     50th anniversary, Fox 5 DC, January 2021
     C&O Canal, AAA Magazine, December 2020
     C&O Canal, BBC, December 2020
     C&O Canal, Fodor's Travel, October 2020
Canal Quarters
     See list here
Canal Pride
     Great Falls, WTOP, May 2019
     Great Falls, WUSA, May 2019
     Point of Rocks, Frederick News Post, May 2018
     Hancock, The Morgan Messenger, May 2018
C&O Canal Explorer mobile app
     See list here
Swains Lockhouse Rehabilitation
     Swains Grand Opening, WAMU, June 2019
     Swains Grand Opening, WTOP, June 2019
     Swains Groundbreaking, Potomac Almanac, March 2018
     Swains Project, Bethesda Magazine, August 2017

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