Brittney Burns – Staff Writer

The Franklin Tourism Development Authority is charged with promoting tourism and related activities for the Franklin area. For the last three years, PRemiere Marketing has volunteered its services to the TDA and has handled the group’s marketing efforts. With the state working to revamp their tourism website, VisitNC.com over the last year, PRemiere Marketing presented members of the TDA with a marketing plan that included partnering with the state’s website in hopes of improving the group’s marketing efforts.

VisitNC.com is the official travel and tourism website for North Carolina and promotes activities from the mountains to the coast and everything in between. Beth Payseur and D’Anne Maddox presented TDA members with an $80,200 marketing plan that included a new $18,250 proposal for VisitNC.com. The new proposal includes purchasing featured events on the website, which experienced 6.1 million visitors last year. The featured events offer the opportunity to promote important events, such as PumpkinFest, or the Mountain High BBQ Festival on prominent places on the state’s travel website such as the homepage. Featured events are promoted for 30 days and are also highlighted in a bi-weekly eBlast that is sent out to 60,000 subscribers looking for more information about the state.

The $18,250 also includes $2,000 for display advertising on the website. The display advertising increases Franklin’s chances of being viewed and generating traffic to Franklin TDA’s website which offers more specific, targeted information on the area. The marketing plan for VisitNC extends beyond the internet with $4,000 going toward co-op print programs in magazines such as Outside Living Magazine, Ideal Living Magazine, and Recreation News. The TDA will have print advertising in the magazines through the co-op that can be targeted specifically for each publication.

The website will also create specialized, custom content that the TDA can use for their blog and content that will be created by influencers  that weave brand stories into their own social platforms.

The addition of the VisitNC.com marketing plan was presented without a change to the TDA’s current marketing budget. In 2015-16, the TDA also budgeted $80,200 for marketing. Rather than change the amount, PRmeiere Marketing recommended reverting funds from things such as advertising on Pandora Radio, and instead use those funds on the new venture.

In addition to new marketing initiatives, PRemiere Marketing also recommended changing the TDA’s targeted areas. Since 2013, the TDA has focused marketing efforts on Atlanta and Charlotte, but in the upcoming year, they will target Atlanta, Ga., Montgomery, Ala., and Birmingham, Ala.

The TDA’s total budget sits at just over $113,000 annually. The TDA is funded through room occupancy taxes collected when visitors pay to use any of the lodging facilities inside of Franklin. With $80,200 designated for marketing and an additional $3,350 set aside for the annual audit, that leaves the TDA with $29,650 budgeted to help promote festivals and events in Franklin. Throughout the year, festivals and events come to the TDA asking for assistance putting on events that are planned to help increase tourism to the town.

On Monday night, the TDA approved $1,499 for the 12th annual Franklin Folk Festival and $1,500 for the Taste of Scotland Festival, both annual events for the area. The TDA was also presented with a $2,500 funding request from Angeline Schwab with Folkmoot, which is scheduled to perform in Franklin at the end of July. The TDA will vote on that request during their July board meeting.

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