Colorado Tourism brings PR in-house

The Colorado Tourism Office has brought its PR and social media functions in-house, deciding not to renew its contract with agency MMGY Global.

DENVER: The Colorado Tourism Office has brought its PR and social media functions in-house, deciding not to renew its contract with agency MMGY.

The organization ended the relationship with the firm to save money and "be more agile," said Kathy Green, communications and marketing director for the tourism group.

Last year, the tourism group spent about $650,000 on its contract with MMGY, $450,000 to $500,000 of which went to PR with the rest spent on social media.

The Tourism Office has renewed contracts with incumbent firms Karsh Hagan for marketing and media and Miles to handle its website and publishing.

Both firms are based in Colorado and have worked on the nearly three-year-old "Come to Life" campaign.

The Tourism Office, the official state marketing arm for travel and tourism, received bids from six agencies for the five-year contract, which was posted on the state website in January. Following an in-depth review and a competitive process, the board voted unanimously to continue working with Karsh Hagan and Miles, it said in a statement.

"We’re delighted we won the account back," said Karsh Hagan co-president Pasquale Pocky Marranzino. "The Colorado brand is really fun to work on. There are so many fun things to see and do in the state."

"[The re-hire] means a great deal. It’s a continuation of success, and we’re excited to be a part of it," said Miles SVP Jay Salyers. "It’s always great to be able to work with your home state tourism office and be able to represent and promote your own backyard. It means a great deal not only to me personally but to the entire office."

The state has no plans to market marijuana tourism, said Green, who added that it is taking a "wait-and-see" approach on the subject because pot was only legalized in the state in January and remains illegal on a federal level.

"We’re going to keep an eye on it this year," she said, adding that the state may have a "better implementation of steps" next January.

The tourism group said in a statement that its 2013 summer campaign generated $1.8 billion in economic impact for the state, with every dollar invested resulting in $331 in consumer spending to the state economy. The Tourism Office expects the full-year 2013 analysis and economic impact numbers to be available this summer.

Green said "Come to Life" has been the group’s "best campaign in recent history."

The winning firms will be reviewed annually, said Green. While the state has not yet determined the full scope of the contracts, she said it is "estimating about a $10 million contract with Karsh, and probably a little over $1 million with Miles, based on last year."

An MMGY representative said the firm does not comment on contracts.

This story was updated on April 22 at 4pm ET with comments from Karsh Hagan.

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