PA enlists bloggers to document state-wide travels

HARRISBURG, PA: The Pennsylvania Tourism Office (PTO) has drafted six vacationers to share their travel experiences on its website via blogs and videos.

HARRISBURG, PA: The Pennsylvania Tourism Office (PTO) has drafted six vacationers to share their travel experiences on its website via blogs and videos.

The initiative, called Road Tripping across Pennsylvania, features blogs from a family, some city dwellers, a motorcycle enthusiast, an outdoor adventurer, a history buff, and two girlfriends. The first blogs were posted June 1 on VisitPA.com.

Mickey Rowley, deputy secretary of tourism in the Department of Community and Economic Development, said the PTO has had success with previous online programs.

A viral campaign for Groundhog's Day netted the PTO's website 178,000 unique users. And it received 22,000 entries when it asked the online community for potential tourism slogans.

"When we started thinking of the spring campaign; [we realized] that blogging had hit mainstream, and it seemed a natural marriage," Rowley said.

The six bloggers will post twice more on July 1 and August 1, based on two more activities. The PTO is covering their expenses for the trips and will follow them to record some footage for cable ads and the website.

When asked if the bloggers were free to post critical commentary, Rowley said, "All of the bloggers share our passions for Pennsylvania and wouldn't portray it in a negative light."

The PTO's interactive agency Ripple Effects Interactive identified the bloggers. PR agency Tierney Communications is working on media outreach around the campaign.

Rowley said the campaign would measure success by positive interaction with readers and the volume of click-through on its site.

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