Talking Tourism: Making Headlines via Marketing | By Linda Jurek

Talking Tourism Monthly Column in the Cook County News Herald.

Originally published: May 2017

Talking Tourism: Making Headlines via Marketing | By Linda Jurek

Let’s set the record straight!  As I discussed in last month’s article, our local economy is supported by over 80% tourism.  For all the reasons we choose to live here, our visitors choose to visit.  Winning awards places us on the state and national radar and bringing people here to visit is the primary goal of our organization.  I’d like to touch on some of the awards we’ve recently won and how there is significant benefit to Cook County.

Visitors hear about our community from a number of sources. I often ask people those questions and the conversations are rewarding. Their answers vary, from coming here as a child to seeing one of our billboards in downtown Minneapolis, but it’s always fun to learn why people are visiting.  Based on these casual conversations, we feel strongly that one of the reasons new visitors often choose to visit is from word of mouth from a friend, social media or article in their favorite publication. Looking at the significant increase in lodging tax the last few years, we believe the media exposure we earned by winning the Budget Travel “America’s Coolest Small Town” award in 2015 plays a significant role in the increase.

Since bringing visitors here and maximizing our tourism traffic is a key goal for Visit Cook County, we do not shy away from the nominations we receive. The publicity from Budget Travel’s “America’s Coolest Small Town” award of 2015 and the most recent award of Best Small Midwestern Town by USA Today have proven their benefits already by creating a media synergy that has lead to more accolades. Within one week of winning small Midwestern town, we are mentioned here:

In addition, we have been ranked as a top destination for hiking, paddling, eating, rock skipping, moose viewing, etc. You get the picture. We also have been recognized by Explore MN with five awards during the past two years.  These awards have been newsworthy resulting in regional and national media attention.  These public relation gems have integrated seamlessly into our robust marketing efforts.

“Working with Visit Cook County is truly enjoyable. We have the good fortune of marketing one of the most beautiful tourism destinations in the world, and we have gotten some tremendous results during the past three years,” said Pascha Apter, CEO of Giant Voices in Duluth.

In addition to an economic boom, community pride blossoms following award wins. While I’m not going to try and convert those of you that dislike these contests, I will challenge you to think a little outside of the box. We’ve had people complain on social media as well as tell us directly that we need to stop this publicity  “No more people.”  It’s important to understand that the services we enjoy 12 months a year are supported by visitor dollars and the increased economic boost assures financial health during the slower seasons. I stand prepared to wait in a longer line, search an extra minute for a parking place and wait and wave at the pedestrians crossing the highway waving their orange crossing flags. Grateful appreciation is where I am at.  Join me?

We recently conducted a tagline and branding survey.  We asked people what they loved about Northeastern Minnesota and how would they describe our location.  Guess what?  In the top three loves – it is the people!  The friendliness and welcoming personalities of local Cook County residents makes visitors feel at home here. Now that makes me sing with pride.  Thanks local businesses, thanks community, and thanks to you!

Now buckle up!  Summer is upon us.

For more goodness, check out these recent articles:

Cook County News Herald by Linda Jurek Linda Jurek linda@visitcookcounty.com