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Pawleys Island: Choices limited in naming website to draw tourists

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

The Pawleys Island Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee came into the digital age last week in order to market the island to tourists.

Members found they had arrived too late to have pawleysisland.com, pawleysislandsc.com or gopawleysisland.com as their website. The obvious names were snapped up long ago by marketing companies, real estate firms or speculators, committee members were told by Lauren Joseph, who has been contracted to direct the town’s tourism marketing. Joseph is also Georgetown County’s tourism director and she told committee members there is synergy to be had between the two as long as they avoid conflicts of interest. She works for the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce.

The town agreed to pay a $300 per month fee to the chamber for Joseph’s services when it switched its designated marketing partnership away from the Pawleys Island Civic Association. State law requires town and county tourism organizations to have a nonprofit marketing partner.

The Brandon Agency offered to let the Pawleys Island committee use pawleysisland.com for an annual $30,000 maintenance and hosting fee. Committee members found a suitable site still available, pawleysislandscvacation.com, and can link it to the town’s website. Joseph will seek three bids to build and maintain the tourism website. Once it’s up and running, she will begin exploring ways to collect e-mail addresses for a database of potential vacationers.

She told committee members there’s no sense in buying digital advertising without a website. Print advertising for the upcoming summer is also unavailable. Deadlines for spring print media have passed.

Joseph proposed spending $58,600 on advertising later in the year in two Atlanta Journal and Constitution travel guides, Carolina Living Magazine, the S.C. Parks Recreation and Tourism travel directory, Southern Living’s travel directory, a GuestQuest co-op going to North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania and the Hammock Coast visitors guide.

The committee approved an expenditure of $400 a month to Nathan Kirk for Facebook posts promoting the beach.

The committee was presented a proposed budget of $169,000 for the year that included a $45,000 state tourism advertising grant available in the fall. The committee’s next meeting will be in May.

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