Well, the answer depends a bit on how you define the term “public relations.” In the broadest sense, PR is a cross-disciplinary approach that involves communicating with various stakeholder groups—potential customers, existing customers, staff, communities, government and regulatory agencies—the works. And the approach you’d use to communicate with each of these groups might be completely different.
But I’ll assume you’re asking about trying to get news coverage for your operation. Such coverage can be valuable in a lot of ways. In marketing geekspeak, this is known as “earned media” (as opposed to “paid media,” which is also known as advertising).
You can bet that the newspapers and broadcast outlets can tell the difference between news items and a business’s attempts to get free placement. In order for a TV station or newspaper to do a story on your operation, there has to be a real news angle—something of interest and value to the news outlet’s audience. News outlets might cover you when you open for the first time—that’s of potential interest to the audience—but after that, you need something more.
What kinds of things might work? It depends on the size of the media market and the other stories competing for placement in the news hole. To an extent, the size and nature of your business matters as well. But cool events, especially those with a community tie-in, stand a good chance of grabbing an assignment editor’s attention.
What sorts of events? Charitable tie-ins are really helpful, so if your site is the epicenter of a fundraiser for a worthy cause, odds are pretty good you can get pickup. The good news is that at adventure parks, the visuals tend to be exciting, and that’s always a bonus for news outlets looking for interesting images and videos.
As to the networking: I’d say it depends where and how you network. But any time you’ve got the opportunity to attend networking events that bring you into contact with key people who might be a source of group business—such as chamber of commerce mixers—you’d probably be smart to go.