CAPC approves $166K plan for Paradise

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission will pay Paradise Marketing & Advertising $166,750 for supplemental services including social media management and a regional marketing campaign.

The commission held a special meeting on Thursday, March 18, to discuss two proposals for supplemental services. Commissioner Patrick Burnett, who was recently appointed as the commission’s liaison with Paradise, said the first proposal wasn’t “exactly in line” with what he was expecting.

Presented at the commission’s regular meeting on March 10, the first proposal would have cost $232,800. 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 partner program 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.

Burnett said on March 18 that Paradise put together an amended proposal totaling $166,750. The individual services are as follows: $18,000 for additional advertising and marketing services; $31,500 for social media management; $9,000 for social content development; $11,250 for website services; $27,000 for blogs and a regional advertising campaign including $50,000 for paid media and $20,000 for campaign creative asset development.

Burnett said the amended proposal removed two components: the annual content strategic plan and Bandwango. Other components were cut down, Burnett said, after he negotiated with Paradise.

“I didn’t feel we should just agree to whatever they throw at us,” Burnett said. “I love them. I think they’re doing a great job, but I still think negotiation is something we should be doing.”

Burnett said he didn’t understand the need for the annual content strategic plan.

“They feel pretty strongly about it, but right now an annual content calendar doesn’t seem to make sense during a pandemic,” Burnett said. “Our goal is to hire a tourism director, and that’s another job a tourism director could do.”

Burnett said he felt that Paradise asked for too much money per month for social media management, saying $4,250 a month seemed like “a price you would pay if you were starting from scratch.”

“We are not starting from scratch,” Burnett said. “I think we have a great page. It just needs to be maintained.”

The cost for social content development needed to be cut down, Burnett said, as well as the cost for website management.

“We just need to maintain it,” Burnett said. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel.”

Burnett said he was surprised to see blogs on the second proposal.

“I honestly don’t understand why we’re even trying to utilize a blog,” Burnett said. “The amount of effort that goes into it and the return on investment and the payoff is just … it’s a time gone by.”

Burnett said he’d rather devote those funds to paid ads on social media platforms Instagram and Facebook.

“People don’t want to read a huge article anymore,” Burnett said. “They want to see small snippets that entice them to get on and book here.”

Burnett said the commission’s agreement with the Eureka Springs Independent’s Fun Guide wasn’t included in the proposal because Paradise hasn’t communicated with the publication’s representatives. Burnett added that the cost for creative asset development and the regional ad campaign were reduced from the first proposal and said the commission could choose between the first and second proposals.

“At this point, I’d just like to get underway,” Burnett said. “Let’s make a decision, because we need social media taken care of right now. People are asking for it.”

Chairman Jeff Carter said he sees the value in blogs.

“When there’s a blog that’s going out like ‘The Top Little Cities in America’ … man, they just share that,” Carter said.

Burnett said he’d support funding blogs if “the numbers are there” and he could see the shares. Carter said the commission would re-evaluate the supplemental services in the third quarter and commissioner Melissa Greene said she saw 92,000 likes on one of the commission’s ads.

“I thought that was an incredible amount,” Greene said. “Do you agree?”

“It’s subjective,” Burnett said. “We haven’t really had anyone truly managing it. If our page was being maintained and managed, I have a feeling we could grow those likes.”

Greene asked which proposal Burnett liked best and Burnett said he preferred the second proposal.

“Obviously, I like to save money and I really feel like what they’ve done is they’ve offered us an olive branch,” Burnett said. “That’s them saying, ‘We’re listening to you.’ “

Commissioner Harry Meyer said he was disappointed that Paradise didn’t communicate with representatives of the Fun Guide and Burnett said that was still underway. Meyer said $40,000 for the Fun Guide was “just the old deal.”

“We can have a new deal, a different deal with the Fun Guide,” Meyer said.

Greene said the commission could only discuss one subject at the special meeting.

“We have to stick with this [topic],” Greene said. “I agree we can put it on our next workshop.”

Commissioner Carol Wright moved to approve the plan for $166,750 just as commissioner James DeVito arrived at the meeting, 15 minutes after it began. DeVito said he thought the commission was getting “a little over our skis” with the proposals.

“We’re going to vote for a tourism director here hopefully pretty soon, which the person would be fulfilling some of these duties,” DeVito said. “I feel like social media is the only thing of any importance today.”

DeVito asked why the supplemental services weren’t in Paradise’s original proposal for advertising.

“I understand this was brought about because we don’t have a tourism director and that we’ve eliminated one of the staff members, but eliminating that staff member … suddenly we’re up $160,000,” DeVito said. “I just feel like that’s excessive at this time.”

“I think if you look at the amount of money that person was making plus the benefits, probably you’re looking at maybe around $120,000, at least $100,000,” Wright said, “so the addition of $66,000 would probably be about the difference there.”

“Well, then we have redundancy built into our fourth quarter,” DeVito said.

“One of the other things discussed is we will review this again at the beginning of the third quarter,” Wright said.

The commission voted to approve the plan 4-1. DeVito was the lone dissenting vote, and commissioner Bobbie Foster wasn’t present at the meeting.

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

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