Maine switches agencies in bid to boost tourism

AUGUSTA, ME: The Maine Office of Tourism has hired The Dilenschneider Group to promote it as a destination to both domestic and international audiences.

AUGUSTA, ME: The Maine Office of Tourism has hired The Dilenschneider Group to promote it as a destination to both domestic and international audiences.

The contract is for one year, with three option years. It has a budget of $700,000 for year one, according to Drew Morris, director of communications at the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.

The New York-based firm beat longtime incumbent Nancy Marshall Communications for the contract, as well as J Public Relations, Missy Farren & Associates, Havas PR, and Greenough, according to a procurement officer.

Dilenschneider's scope of work includes organizing traditional and social media outreach targeting US and international audiences. The agency must also facilitate a minimum of 60 travel trade or media trips annually, provide internal PR support, and perform special projects such as coordinating the annual Governor's Conference on Tourism.

Nancy Marshall Communications worked with the state for 20 years. Annual visitorship has hovered at more than 30 million people since 2008, with the exception of 2010 when it dropped to 23 million before rebounding the following year, according to state data. Visitor numbers for 2012 were not yet available.

“We will miss working for and with the industry in Maine, and we will miss helping the journalists who are doing stories about Maine,” agency CEO Nancy Marshall said via email. “However, all good things must come to an end, and the client has chosen to take the account in a new direction, so we accept their decision and we wish the new agency all the best as they build a new program for Maine.”

Asked why the state decided to go in a new direction, Morris said Dilenschneider scored best in the RFP process.

“[Dilenschneider] brings national capabilities, strong branding, and strategic communications experience, as well as deep tourism expertise,” he said.

The firm will be supported by Burgess Advertising and Marketing, an in-state agency partner that has 26 years of PR experience in Maine and close ties to the tourism industry there, Morris said.

"Together, we will provide comprehensive service to [Maine's office of tourism] and its partners, working together to amplify local and national media relations, special events, and strategic communications,” said Joan Brower, principal at Dilenschneider.

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