Two Worldcom firms to represent Baltimore tourism association

BALTIMORE: The Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association (BACVA) has hired two firms to conduct a new PR campaign.

BALTIMORE: The Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association (BACVA) has hired two firms to conduct a new PR campaign.

New York-based M. Silver Associates is tasked with BACVA's national PR push and Baltimore-based Trahan Burden & Charles (TBC) will handle regional and local media work.

Nancy Hinds, VP of public affairs for BACVA, said the entire communications budget for the year was $270,000.

The association issued an RFP to 42 firms in October, and narrowed it down to five before choosing the two winners.

The two agencies, both members of the Worldcom Group, pitched together for the business, a common practice for the two as many tourism departments want both a global and local presence.

"Many tourism offices do hire outside of their own local area because they want an agency based in NY with access to national media," said M. Silver President Virginia Sheridan. "But they also want local intelligence and [to have] some of the revenue stay within the marketplace."

The combined agencies will devote five people to the BAVCA team. Sheridan and VP Linda Ayares will lead from New York and TBC president Sandy Hillman will lead the local presence.

Hinds called the two-agency approach a "win-win" situation because of M. Silver's national contacts and TBC's knowledge of the destination.

Sheridan said that the agency actively markets itself to trade associations, local governments, and convention bureaus, and that BACVA knew about its work through those arenas.

BACVA is attempting to reposition the Baltimore region as a premier tourism and convention destination.

"Baltimore wants to be more competitive for family travelers," Sheridan said, adding that the city's proximity to Washington, DC, makes it a competitive marketplace. "We want families to include Baltimore as part of the travel itinerary."

The agency also hopes to help attract conventions to the city, by promoting recent additions and expansions to its convention facilities and airports. M. Silver will target business, travel, and trade magazines, as well as search for promotional partners, such as retail products, soft drinks, and car manufacturers.

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