Banner Senior Staff Writer
That’s how Meagan Jolley public relations manager for Rock City and Ruby Falls described her job to the Cleveland Media Association.
Although the two Lookout Mountain attractions’ advertising and promotions are handled by the same office, the attractions are separately owned.
Each wants equal time when Jolley is promoting events on television. Each expects her to split her time equally between projects for both attractions.
She said promoting the attractions equally can be difficult because Rock City has more events than Ruby Falls. Both attractions have annual haunted events around Halloween.
She call the way she handles her job “co-opetition” because the competing attractions are also cooperating. The public relations office is located at the foot of Lookout Mountain.
Jolley said it makes financial sense for the owners of each attraction to share a PR office since the two sites were already being promoted together.
“A lot of visitors that come from out of town are automatically going to want to go to both,” Jolley said.
The attractions are three miles apart and many people go to both. Jolley said despite the proximity of the attractions they are actually in separate states. Rock City is just across the state line in Georgia. Ruby Falls is in Tennessee.
Ruby Falls was discovered by Leo Lambert during a 17-hour cave expedition. Jolley said Ruby Falls has some events but not as many as Rock City, simply because Rock City has more space to lend to events.
“There is no other place that’s like them and since they are natural we want to keep that feel,” Jolley said.
Promoting both attractions can also lead to confusion. Jolley recounted how, while trying to promote both haunted attractions with characters from the events, television viewers became confused as to which creature was with which attraction.
However, the PR manager does try to keep things visual when she is promoting the attractions. For her CMA presentation, she had someone from her office decked out in green to promote Rock City’s Shamrock City.
In the spring, Ruby Falls will again have the Ruby Falls Zip Stream.
Promotion for Rock City has unique beginnings. The founder of Rock City hired someone to travel the country painting barns, in exchange for the opportunity to paint three simple words, “See Rock City,” in large letters.
Jolley said more than 900 barns were painted with the message.
“That was pre-billboard era,” Jolley said.
However, as a result of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, many had to be removed because they were close to major highways.
Jolley said there are about 100 barns still in existence. Because of the law, Rock City also cannot paint any more barns. The iconic advertising lives on in birdhouses.
The person who had painted the barns wanted to created mailboxes that looked like barns, but at that time the postal service did not allow it.
Celebrity visits to the attractions have caused a stir recently as Ashton Kutcher and his girlfriend Mila Kunis visited Rock City. The couple also visited Ruby Falls later in the day, Jolley said.
Jolley said people often want to know about the celebrities who have visited the attractions. According to Jolley, Walt Disney visited Rock City before his creation of Disneyland and drew inspiration from it for the park.