Houston enhances appeal with local celebrity support

Houston has hosted a number of high-profile events in recent years. However, research conducted by the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau (GHCVB) found that many visitors didn't know what else the city had to offer.

Houston has hosted a number of high-profile events in recent years. However, research conducted by the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau (GHCVB) found that many visitors didn't know what else the city had to offer.

“We used to think of PR around the events... but never anything about the city itself,” says Lindsey Brown, director of marketing and PR for the GHCVB.

The group launched an effort to encourage tourism and help enhance the city's appeal.

Strategy
GHCVB decided to expand on a video featuring local celebs talking about a day in Houston for a conference. It found 20 people, including Beyonce Knowles (pictured), to participate in ads and additional videos.

Celebs' contributions were unscripted, adding authenticity. “[People] don't want messaging from [GHCVB],” Brown says. “They know we get paid for that.”

Tactics
GHCVB launched the campaign with a front-page story in the Houston Chronicle. The organization also showcased the push at a fashion show for local designer and Project Runway season two winner Chloe Dao.

The team bound campaign ads in a book, My Houston, and distributed them to national media, particularly those in Texas; Washington, DC; New York; and Chicago.

The My Houston (visitmyhouston.com) microsite launched in February. The team posts videos on the site, YouTube, Crackle, and Vimeo.

Results
GHCVB earned media hits in The New York Times, USA Today, and other publications.

The microsite and social media pages featuring the campaign videos and ads have gotten 128,368 page views, exceeding the goal of 100,000.

Also, research so far shows fewer people pinpointing lack of destination appeal as a reason for not hosting a convention in Houston.

Future
The second phase of the effort begins this summer.

PR team: The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

Campaign: My Houston

Duration: February 2008-ongoing

Budget: $20,000

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