033017 Tourism: There’s no such thing as free publicity
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Tourism: There’s no such thing as free publicity

By Nikki Best
Coastal Observer

In Georgetown County, bloggers use the side door.

The county Tourism Management Commission met last week to plan end-of-season and off-season marketing efforts. This included discussion of the upcoming visitors’ guide, rack cards for the solar eclipse in August, the chamber’s request for $450,000 of accommodations tax money from the county and an update on public relations strategy.

Chris King of Kingfish Communications presented some ideas on how to reel in tourism during the off-season.

“I’d like to put together for consideration, say the possibility of bringing in three, four or five bloggers for sort of a group outing,” King said.

An aspect of service Kingfish Communications offers is that it works to pitch story ideas, or expense-paid trips, to newspapers, magazines, travel writers and bloggers, to get coverage of the Hammock Coast. King gets publicity for the area so tourism will increase.

It wasn’t the first time the idea had been brought up, but it was met with hesitation.

“We’ve dealt with a couple of bloggers, you’ve sent them to us,” commission member David McMillan said. He expressed concern that a blogger’s work isn’t a measurable return on investment compared to more traditional routes.

“You know it’s a different type of outing, people are doing it increasingly,” King said. “I know the Outer Banks just had one.”

The success of a pitched story in print can be measured by the number of people in the audience. If a story about the area runs in The Greenville News, there’s a definitive circulation audience of 43,288 on a weekday and 63,725 on a Sunday. It’s not as simple with a blogger.

McMillan compared bloggers to the bike week visitors who let their hair grow out, wearing their leathers, riding nice bikes.

“You don’t know the riff raff from the doctor,” he said. “But what I do know is when they come in, they spend money. That’s measurable.”

McMillan went on to say bloggers are, “universally cheap” citing an incident when a meal for a blogger was covered by the commission and the blogger didn’t tip the waitstaff.

“That’s a problem and they seem to be the ones that do that,” McMillan said.

King said he will continue to look for a time on the calendar when potential bloggers could be brought in to see the area.

“I do think it’s something at least worth considering,” King said.

“You know they’ve got their cats and their dogs in the car and they’re just rambling through the coast,” McMillan said. “Some of them. Some of them are consummate professionals.”

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