LINCOLN, NE: Nebraska's Tourism Commission has hired marketing communications agency Swanson Russell to manage tourism PR for the state as part of an overhaul of its outreach strategy.
Longtime incumbent Snitily Carr had previously handled the state's PR, marketing, advertising, and digital outreach. However, Nebraska has split the work with three RFPs as it attempts to be more aggressive with its outreach strategy.
The state shifted its approach following an 18-month period when tourist spending increased, reaching $3.1 billion last year, up from $2.3 billion in 2008. However, Nebraska still felt it needed a change in strategy despite the spending boost. The state wants to avoid falling back to earlier visitor-spending levels, said Kathy McKillip, executive director at the Nebraska Tourism Commission.
The budget of all components of the Nebraska Tourism Commission's marketing and advertising work is about $2.1 million. Swanson Russell will only handle PR, while other accounts will cover advertising and marketing and web services. The two remaining accounts are expected to be awarded by July 10.
Swanson Russell's contract is worth up to $495,000 annually for a three-year period with two option years. In a head-to-head comparison of proposals from Swanson and Snitily Carr, Swanson beat the incumbent on technical execution by a wide margin, according to procurement documents.
More specifically, the committee selected a firm with a “heavy presence in media tours, with an emphasis on other key public relations strengths,” said McKillip.
As part of Swanson's contract, the state is targeting markets such as Canada, Germany, and the UK for the first time. However, it will continue to focus on domestic audiences.
Representatives from Swanson and Snitily did not immediately return requests for comment.
The Maine Office of Tourism switched its PR agency last month, moving its account from 20-year incumbent Nancy Marshall Communications to The Dilenschneider Group.