CAPC considers extra $232K to Paradise

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission is considering spending additional money for supplemental services through Paradise Marketing & Advertising.

At the commission’s regular meeting on Wednesday, March 10, commissioner Patrick Burnett presented two proposals for supplemental services. The first proposal would cost $220,000, Burnett said, and the second proposal would cost $232,800. The extra $12,800 would come from a partner program with Bandwango.

Broken down, the individual services are as follows: $20,000 for additional advertising and marketing services; $3,000 for annual content strategic plan; $42,500 for social media management; $15,000 for social content development; $19,500 for website services; $30,000 for blogs; $12,800 for Bandwango and a regional advertising campaign including $65,000 for paid media and $25,000 for campaign creative asset development. The commission’s 2021 budget already includes $711,000 for Paradise Marketing.

Chairman Jeff Carter said the commission hasn’t had anyone running the city’s social media accounts in a few weeks. The commission voted to terminate publicist Gina Rambo on Feb. 24.

“We’re in a position that’s not favorable for us,” Carter said. “I understand this is a lot, but we need to have a plan as quickly as possible to get all those things in. We really need to move as fast as we can.”

Burnett said the city’s social media presence is “dwindling.” The city isn’t doing any paid marketing in the two-hour travel radius, Burnett said. He said Paradise is marketing to locations outside of that two-hour radius.

“This would include more local, regional things,” Burnett said. “More important than any of the other stuff on here, really, is the social media and the regional advertising campaign.”

Commissioner Carol Wright moved to approve the proposal with Bandwango, totaling $232,800. A disadvantage of Bandwango, Burnett said, is that the commission would still need someone in Eureka Springs to take updated photos.

“Bandwango will require hiring somebody here in Eureka Springs to help,” Burnett said. “All it requires is a living, breathing, halfway decent intelligent person who can go out and take photographs.”

Commissioner James DeVito said he wasn’t ready to vote on the matter.

“This is a lot to digest,” DeVito said. “I don’t see where postponing this until our next meeting is going to be a disaster.”

Commissioner Bobbie Foster agreed.

“I don’t feel like I have enough information to make an intelligent vote on that much money tonight, just being presented with it an hour ago,” Foster said.

Wright withdrew her motion and the commission agreed to consider the additional funding at its next meeting.

Earlier at the meeting, Holly Wescott of the Eureka Springs Independent presented a proposal for Paradise to partner with the Independent’s Fun Guide.

Wescott said the commission spends $750,000 with Paradise annually.

“So we are asking for 5 percent of what we give them,” Wescott said. “It doesn’t have to be their portion, but I think we are asking for very little.”

Wescott said she was asking for a formal agreement to establish the Fun Guide as the primary response piece for the CAPC.

“I just wanted to present to you a proposal a little more formally than we have in the past, because we’ve had oral agreements that need a little bit more backbone to them,” Wescott said.

Wescott said the Fun Guide is printed 10 times a year and distributed at tourism information centers throughout the state. Wescott said the Fun Guide is available electronically on the Independent’s website, as well as on Facebook.

Commissioner Harry Meyer asked if Wescott met with Paradise representatives when they were recently in town and Wescott said she did.

“One issue that we had this last year … is that we didn’t have a lot of advertising that was consistent with the branding that Paradise was producing. They were poor photographs presented to us.”

Wescott said the staff of the Fun Guide felt as if they had been “dumped” when the CAPC stopped funding the Fun Guide in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We felt we had been pawned off with junk file advertising when we really are able to be part of the campaign that is created by Paradise, and we want to partner with them,” Wescott said.

Carter suggested that the commission turn the matter over to Paradise for further review, and Wescott said the Fun Guide can’t partner with Paradise without the commission’s approval.

“We need your approval to do this so we can have a partnership with them directly,” Wescott said. “We will promote them in the same consistency that they direct us.”

Commissioner Melissa Greene suggested adding the item to the commission’s next meeting and the commission agreed to do so.

The commission then addressed the presence of cameras in the Auditorium, with Greene asking if there is a “bug” where the commission holds its executive sessions.

“Somebody said in our Auditorium lobby there are cameras and microphones,” Greene said. “It just feels like a breach of privacy to me.”

Finance director Rick Bright confirmed that there are cameras in the lobby but said there aren’t any audio recording devices.

Also at the meeting, the commission voted to hire a company to complete a forensic analysis of the commission’s website. Wright said a forensic analysis would “basically delve into time periods, dates, certain emails that came up in the emails we got, basically to trace and see who is accessing the computer.”

Wright made a motion to move forward with the forensic analysis and the commission unanimously agreed to do so.

In other business, the commission voted to create a three-person search committee for the city’s next tourism director. Lynn Berry, wife of Mayor Butch Berry, agreed to volunteer for the committee, and the commission voted to appoint one commissioner and one staff member to round it out.

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 24, at the Auditorium.

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