Promoter questions policy on event advertising

Monday, January 9, 2006

EUREKA SPRINGS -- Promoter Steve Shell questioned the City Advertising and Promotion Commission's policy regarding advertising of outside promoters' events and evoked a commitment to clarify the matter to promote whatever events are taking place in the city regardless of who is doing it, during Wednesday's CAPC workshop.

Shell's concerns apparently developed over the past two years as the CAPC struggled with income shortfalls and City Auditorium problems.

Originally, Shell said he was told that the CAPC wanted more outside promoters putting on events. As he developed events at The Auditorium and other venues, he was told that the CAPC would help in advertising at times when nothing else was going on..

Noting his current line-up of eight shows, he said he tried to steer his shows for the slower months of January through April, but has been told that only one or two of them can be advertised on the CAPC Web site at any one time.

The mind-set seems to be that if it is not a city function, the CAPC is not really interested, he said, adding that he is not sure how that mind-set developed.

In discussing the matter, Bookkeeper Sheila Hulsey said that the CAPC is constantly scrutinized for playing favorites.

Commissioners indicated that the two-column and three-inch ads the commission buys in regional newspapers serve as close-end reminders, but that they did not want to be prejudicial about what is mentioned in the ads.

"Nothing of mine is in there," Shell said.

Cris Dunnam, who handles input on the CAPC Web site, stated that the banner ads are generally limited to three due to the load time, but sometimes there may be as many as five.

It was suggested that the left side of the Web site be scrapped and a static link list for various events be listed there.

It was decided a commissioner will talk with Director Lynn Berry, who was out of town Wednesday, and Dunnam should discuss the matter with her.

Said Chairman Brian Sumpter, "We believe we are here to promote everything going on in Eureka Springs."

Shell also suggested that the commission study how to gauge the effectiveness of festivals in drawing business to town for long-range planning purposes.

Commissioner Richard Grinnell introduced tentative long-range plans to be considered at a later time when Berry is present.

His handout addressed goals of marketing and sales, product development, finance and administration, community relations, research and planning, and visitor services, with steps suggested for reaching those goals.

Festival Director Sally Thackery exhibited a prototype of the official Blues Festival T-shirt, which incorporates a Blues Brothers-type figure with up-raised arms against swirling multi-colored rays. The shirt, she said, will be marketed with names of all acts for the festival on the back, and will also be available for retailers, who can put their own logo or information on the back.

About $1,000 in tickets have already been sold for the Blues Festival, she said.

Thackery also anticipates a five-fold brochure promoting all the 2006 festivals being ready in February, after a hole in the schedule for the Music Festival is filled and Folk Festival acts are booked. She reported that Little Feat is confirmed, and that arrangements with Delbert and the Smothers Brothers are still pending.

There was also some discussion regarding the 2006 Media Plan and the effectiveness of Billboards. It was agreed that billboard pricing information is needed for billboards along I-540 and in Branson, Mo., otherwise commissioners were generally happy with the plan.

Approval of the Media Plan is expected at Wednesday's business meeting.

Also at that meeting, the commission is expected to approve its 2006 budget, after receiving a breakdown of salaries and benefits for all CAPC employees.

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