5/11/2010 3:40:00 PM Getting the word out Travel writers help put Williams on the itinerary
Williams Chamber of Commerce CEO Rhonda Rosinski and Mike Finney with AZ Rocks hosted travel writers Sarah Jaquay, George Miller, Skip Kaltenheuser, Maria Lenhart, Jim Farber and Jim Foster during their recent visit to Williams.
WILLIAMS - Tourist towns, including Williams, depend on an influx of visitors in the summer months to bolster their local economies. Media exposure, in print or on the Internet, has become increasingly important in order to draw as many visitors to town as possible.
A group of six travel writers visited Williams April 11-12 as part of the spring Arizona Rocks Media Tour. Arizona Rocks is a regional partnership between Williams, the Navajo Nation Tourism Office, the Hopi Village of Upper Moenkopi, and the Page/Lake Powell Tourism Bureau.
While in Williams, the writers toured Bearizona with CEO Sean Casey, toured downtown Williams with Mayor John Moore, visited Kaibab Lake for lunch and rode the Grand Canyon Railway among other activities.
Az Communications Group, based in Tempe, handles media relations for the regional affiliation of communities and organizes the media tours two times per year, once in the spring and once in the fall.
According to Az Communications Group President Mike Finney, the proximity of the communities provides a great opportunity to cross promote to tourists in a cost effective program.
"That region that encircles the Grand Canyon and really includes most of the highlights of northern Arizona for tourism works collectively to gain media exposure," Finney said.
"All along the way the writers are getting story ideas and information that can translate into media exposure.
"What we do is provide support to those writers so that as they develop story ideas we can answer questions and provide any additional contacts that they may need. Their stories will appear in print as well as online."
Finney said in the last eight months, circulation of stories specifically featuring Williams was over 1,500,000 with a media value of $100,000.
"There was a great article specifically on Williams in Sunset magazine just this past July," Finney said. "That article, if the community or the chamber of commerce had to go out and buy that advertising, it would have cost $64,468. We can see a direct dollar conversion because print media has that in their rate cards but what we don't see is the value of things that wind up on LA Times.com or the Tribune.com."
As part of the Arizona Rocks program, AZ Communications puts out press releases, organizes custom tours for individual journalists and promotes the Arizona ROCKS website.
According to Finney, the website attracts close to 200,000 visitors per year with Williams attracting the highest click through rate of any of the communities -nearly 55 percent higher than other Rocks partner communities.
Williams Mayor John Moore said the program is vital to the tourist economy of Williams.
"The writers go back to their newspapers and magazines and whatever they write for, a lot of them freelance and a lot write for more than one," he said. "I think it has a big benefit to a lot of readers and I think in turn those readers come to Williams a lot of times."
Moore went on to say he has seen articles written by writers who visited Williams with the Arizona ROCKS program.
"The last one I recall was from a fella from the Los Angeles Times who wrote an article about Williams," he said.
For more information on the Arizona Rocks program, visit www.arizonarocks.com.
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010
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The website (www.arizonarocks.com) is a joke, it hasn't been updated since 2008. Let me guess, taxpayer money funds this garbage?