Originally published in Castine Patriot, May 29, 2014
CED approves $10k plan for marketing Castine
Mission: increase quality of life for residents
From left, consultant Tim Koster and members Pat Bishop, Scott Vogell and Rick Armstrong (chair) of the Castine, Maine Community and Economic Development Committee meet on May 27, 2014. Koster, who posts to Castine’s Facebook page, is the “boots on the ground,” said Armstrong.
by Anne Berleant
With six of seven members present and voting, the Community and Economic Development group approved a plan submitted by consultant Barbara Whitten to market Castine through June 2015. The cost is $10,000.
“In terms of hiring a marketing consultant, this is incredibly cheap,” said member Julie Van der Graaf. “I feel we are getting the deal of a lifetime.”
The board of selectmen must approve the plan before it moves forward, which will be paid from the $20,000 approved for economic development consultants at town meeting.
The plan’s mission: “Increase the economic vitality and quality of life for the residents of Castine through implementation of sound promotional strategies that attract and service visitors to Castine.”
Whitten, who previously helmed the Greater Portland Convention and Visitors Bureau, was hired last January to develop branding and messaging statements for Castine, including graphic and website design work, and broadcast to the larger world that Castine is open for business. She was paid $2,250 for her initial contract, which ends next month.
The CED credits the fact that Castine was featured on Bangor’s WABI last week to a press release sent by Whitten. (See wabi.tv/2014/05/21/castine-preps-tourism-boom/.)
Also, Maine magazine, which planned to ignore Castine in an upcoming profile on the Blue Hill Peninsula, “promised if we weren’t in this one, we’d be in the next one,” said Van der Graaf, after Whitten contacted the magazine’s editor.
By approving money for consultants like Whitten, and Tim Koster, who feeds photographs and news to social media sites, “the town is providing the framework” for economic development, said Chairman Rick Armstrong.
However, that doesn’t mean town funds can directly go toward advertising.
When member Pat Bishop, who chairs the Promotions Subcommittee, asked if the CED could pay for advertising in Points East magazine, Armstrong said that while the committee has “a little flexibility…the money was given to us not to advertise but for consulting services.”
Some Castine merchants have already coughed up $5,000 for national advertising in magazines such as Down East Magazine in time for the tourist season that opened over Memorial Day weekend. The hope, Van der Graaf said, is that more will join in if they see a benefit from advertising on that scale.
“If we want to be contenders, we have to have this [national] kind of presence,” said Van der Graaf.
Bishop requested advertising money because of recent expenditures by Promotions Subcommittee: $700 towards “welcome” tote bags from the Castine Merchants Association, $600 for installing WiFi at the town dock, and payments for Waterfront Wednesday bands. The live music series begins in July.
With $1,700 in the promotions account, and another $900 coming in this week—$300 from Blue Hill Memorial Hospital—“our bands should be paid for,” said Bishop. Waterfront Wednesdays is sponsored by area businesses and the CED.
The goal of events like Waterfront Wednesday, and of increasing Castine’s visibility online and in social media, is to pose Castine as a destination—for weddings, vacations and even to move to.
Events like the Midcoast Maine Lighthouse Challenge on June 28-29 are an opportunity, said CED members, who spent a few minutes devising strategies to draw lighthouse visitors downtown instead of straight out of town.
Installing free WiFi at the town dock is seen as another plus for visitors.
The WiFi, said member Scott Vogell, “is up and running,” with an external antennae still to be installed.
“I got three bars,” said member Mark Sawyer.
Finally, the question of reappointment to the committee was answered in the affirmative by all members present. (Tony Politano was absent.) The seven committee members, who serve at the pleasure of the selectmen, are up for a second year on the committee.
Tuesday, June 9, 8:30 a.m., Emerson Hall
Thursday, June 26, 8:30 a.m., Emerson Hall, to be joined by Maine Downtown Network advisor Abby Levin at 9 a.m.