Brand USA searches for comms leader after launch

WASHINGTON: Brand USA is searching for a director of communications to help the organization determine its external PR needs for a global tourism marketing effort slated for next March.

WASHINGTON: Brand USA is searching for a director of communications to help the organization determine its external PR needs for a global tourism marketing effort slated for next March.

Brand USA debuted at the World Travel Market in London this week, as the new name of the Corporation for Travel Promotion. Congress created the public-private marketing entity last year to attract international travelers to the US.

“Until we launched, we were essentially in build up mode in terms of infrastructure, development, hiring of the senior leadership team, and making sure we also had robust strategic objectives and plans in place,” said Joel Secundy, VP of strategic outreach for Brand USA. “The event in London was our official coming out party.”

Brand USA also launched a consumer website, DiscoverAmerica.com, and a logo comprised of multi-colored dots to symbolize the diversity of the places and people of the country.

The organization also said it will launch the country's first global marketing campaign, which will run in as many as 15 nations and cost up to $200 million, to reverse a slide in foreign visitors to the US.

JWT is handling advertising for the campaign. Fellow WPP Group agency Hill & Knowlton has been working with Brand USA to raise awareness. The organization has also worked with High Lantern Group, which helped to create a strategic plan for the Corporation for Travel Promotion.

“[High Lantern has] been on board since day one working with the board of directors,” said Secundy. “And they have continued to help on a number of strategic initiatives.” 

Yet Secundy, whose office oversees communications, brand awareness, and reputation management, told PRWeek that the group has “not locked in on any one firm to be our PR agency for Brand USA.”

“We want to hire a director of communications first, and once that individual comes on board, he or she will help determine what external resources we will need to leverage for us to be as effective as possible.”

According to the job description, the director of public affairs and stakeholder communications will be responsible for leading a multi-year, strategic communications plan to promote Brand USA's brand and marketing program, including to help drive tourism dollars to the US. The individual will also be charged with helping to gain industry and congressional support for program funding.

Brand USA is finalizing the details of its global marketing campaign, which Secundy says will be the first of its kind for the US.

“There have been a lot of efforts at the individual state level, but we've never had an integrated…‘Come to America' type of campaign,” he said.  “We want to promote all the destinations, from the big city to the rural, as well as aspects like sustainable tourism and medical tourism.”

Secundy added that the organization hopes to ultimately drive the country's economic stimulus and job growth with the campaign.

“In the last 10 years, we enjoyed an economic boom that didn't necessarily highlight or focus on travel to the US, because people just wanted to come to the US,” said Secundy. “Over time, however, other countries have really ramped up their tourism spend, and like a lot of industries, we've had to wake up and realize we have to be more competitive.”

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