CVB director updates officials on marketing campaign

Mary Hammond, executive director for the Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau, apprised city officials Tuesday about the efforts of a targeted marketing campaign to promote Paducah for tourism and relocation.

“During the pandemic, this fall and early winter, the CVB staff noticed an increase in relocation inquiries from those seeking to return to their hometown, or from those seeking a city offering cultural, leisure, outdoor amenities — combined with safety and affordability,” Hammond said, in a presentation to the Paducah City Commission.

“The CVB immediately expanded the community link on the Paducah.travel website and curated a dedicated relocation information page to feature local quality of life information and helpful resources. This page houses a relocation information request web form and a sign up for ongoing Paducah updates.”

In early December, the previous city commission also approved $27,000 for marketing campaign services in a six-month campaign. It engaged the Lou Hammond Group through the CVB, which has contracted with the public relations and marketing firm for some time. The Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce and Paducah Power System also partnered on this project.

“It allows the CVB to administer a targeted effort to highlight Paducah’s quality of place to promote tourism and relocation,” Hammond said.

“This national PR campaign reaches audiences in areas of the country not included in the target markets of the CVB marketing plan for leisure visitors. We focus mostly on the drive market and the niche markets.”

The campaign’s formal goal is to promote “signature experiences, cultural assets, educational offerings, small business tools and relocation incentives” to put Paducah on the map as a place to live, work and visit, she said.

Hammond reported that, so far, Lou Hammond Group has made 312 targeted pitches about Paducah, resulting in 11 articles. The reach of the publications is more than 200 million, garnering $50,000 of value in “earned media,” which Hammond described as “pretty good” for 21/2 months.

Hammond discussed CVB’s efforts to look at online traffic, such as following up on information requests and seeing where its website’s traffic came from. Inquiries, she explained, seem like they fall within three categories.

There’s the “millennial boomerang” who is interested in relocating, and have ties to Paducah or the region. They look at cost of living, family and friends.

“They want arts and culture and they’re interested in health care and housing, and then you’ve got the ‘Gen X nuclear family’ and they’re looking at a city that offers what they currently have, but where they live is expensive, so that’s the top reason. Cost of living,” she added.

“And their list (is) arts and culture, business relocation assistance, business startup assistance, churches, education, health care, housing, jobs, neighborhoods.”

Hammond said there are people in their early and mid 60s, who are interested in a central location, retirement planning, arts and culture, health care, housing, jobs, neighborhoods and churches.

“But overall, visitors to Paducah.travel find us through organic searches. They’re uninfluenced by ads and they’re seeking information that focuses on the quality of life in Paducah,” she said.

“Over half of the inquiries appear to have some sort of familiarity with Paducah, or the region, and the majority of those seeking relocation information subscribe to Paducah.travel e-newsletters.”

Hammond also noted that the CVB looks forward to working with the city on a relocation incentive. On March 9, the city commission adopted its top 12 priorities, which includes a remote workers incentive program.

“One of our top priorities is the relocation incentive, which I think plays into this a great deal,” Mayor George Bray said, after Hammond’s presentation.

“I know that our staff is working on that and hope to have something to present to the commission here in the next 60 days, so it dovetails nicely into all the work that you’re doing.”

The Sun also reached out to City Manager Jim Arndt on Wednesday, regarding efforts being made on the incentive program.

He said Planning Department staff members are working on it, such as getting feedback from Paducah Young Professionals on what would inspire them to relocate, input from stakeholders, looking at other cities that did this and figuring out what the program’s incentive package could look like.

Arndt thinks the city’s making good progress and it aims to come up with a competitive package to present to the commission in the 60-day window.

“When workers are trying to leave areas that have high cost of living and lower quality of life, and they could do the same work without changing jobs — Paducah’s a great place to do that,” he said.

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