Water Sports Foundation appoints Wanda Kenton Smith to communications director

The Water Sports Foundation (WSF) has appointed veteran journalist, marine marketer and publicist Wanda Kenton Smith of Kenton Smith Marketing to head communications and PR for its latest U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Outreach Grant focused on expanding national media coverage and enhancing media relations.

Kenton Smith is a 35-plus year, award-winning marine industry professional whose career includes editor of multiple marine consumer and trade publications, plus serves as national marketing columnist for Soundings Trade Only, a post she has held since 1998. Wanda previously owned an internationally acclaimed advertising and PR firm and managed more than 35 iconic marine brands in both power and sail sectors. She is also former VP of marketing for a global marine manufacturer; chief marketing officer for the world’s No. 1 boat club; and head of marketing for the top-ranked boat retailer in North America. She currently consults with and/or manages a handful of national marine marketing accounts and is chief marketing officer of Emerald Coast Marine Group.      

“We are very excited to welcome Wanda aboard as our communications director as we develop strategic marketing and public relations outreach strategies to reach and engage national media in an effort to better promote and gain greater national coverage of boating safety,” said WSF Executive Director Jim Emmons. “I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Wanda for many years, and most recently on the Coast Guard’s National Boating Safety Advisory Council. I know she brings not only a wealth of marine marketing and national PR experience to this post, but perhaps equally important, an enormous amount of personal passion for boating safety and its messaging.”

Wanda Kenton Smith

Kenton Smith is part of a leadership task force appointed within the WSF that is developing a robust new website for both marine industry and media consumption. In addition to WSF-specific content, the site will also host an abundance of boating safety content, graphics, imagery, reports and data, along with a compilation of expert contacts designed for easy media access and consumption.

“We are designing this section of the website and content to meet the needs and desires of working journalists,” she said. “It will offer an easy-to-navigate, content-rich and one-stop shop for journalists seeking reliable boating safety information, graphics, reports/data and expert contacts.”

Kenton Smith is presently identifying and extending invitations to a variety of marine industry associations and organizations to share relevant boating safety content on this new site which will serve as a key site driver and component in the national PR campaign and outreach efforts.

Added Tom Dardis, Recreational Boating Safety Outreach Coordinator for the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division, “The U.S. Coast Guard is optimistic that this new PR campaign will be successful in reaching hard-to-reach boaters and we encourage others to share materials and support this effort that provides increased boating safety awareness through national broad-based media attention,”

According to Emmons, work is already well underway on website design, with plans to launch the PR outreach the end of the first quarter of 2021, ahead of the busy Spring boating season.

“Timing is everything and we will be very well equipped and prepared to not only proactively promote great boating safety tips and stories to national media, but to provide a comprehensive and dedicated portal for servicing their turnkey editorial needs,” he said.      

Organizations with relevant boating safety content or in-house boating safety expertise are invited to submit materials for website inclusion and consideration. For content submission instructions, email [email protected].

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