Kenai cools on Texas marketing
The Kenai City Council is holding off on rehiring a Texas firm to continue marketing the city. Council members at the May 17 meeting were not happy with results of the previous year’s contract with Divining Point, LLC to provide tourism and marketing services.
The city contracted with Divining Point in 2019 through a competitive bid process for an array of services, from creating a website and YouTube channel to redesigning the city’s logo and motto and new banners to hang throughout town. That three-year contract expired in June 2022. The city extended the contract last fiscal year for just over $70,000 but some council members are not in favor of another extension.
“We’re not seeing good results," said Teea Winger. "Looking through their website, I’ve seen a lot of discrepancies in the information that was listed. It almost comes off that we love the Kenai Peninsula, not ‘I love Kenai.’”
The website is ilovekenai.com. There are photos and videos that feature Kenai, plus other generic stock photos and pictures of elsewhere on the peninsula. There’s a YouTube channel by the same name. Videos from a year or more ago have thousands to tens of thousands to one with 230,000 views. Recent videos have just a handful of views.
“The traffic is way down compared to when it first started," said Vice Mayor James Baisden. "So, I don’t know if it’s because the messaging has changed or what it is but we’re not getting the engagement that we did.”
City administration scaled back the scope of work in the extension contracts. City Manager Terry Eubank says the proposed extension for fiscal year 2024 is for $50,500 and would focus on improving the website.
“As a resource that the city could then rely on in our recruitment for employees and also make it available, or hopefully it is a resource, to other local employers,” Eubank said.
The Kenai Chamber of Commerce used to handle marketing for the city and Eubank says he hopes that will be the case again. But the chamber only recently hired brand-new staff.
No one on the council spoke glowingly of the recent work done by Divining Point but a few members suggested approving the extension as a better-than-nothing stopgap.
“I think the best solution here would be to continue this at the base minimum reduced rate until we can focus in on what we want to do and write up a new bid and the chamber’s coming up for its new budget," said Alex Douthit.
Baisden said he’d rather gamble on the chamber getting up to speed and being able to take on marketing duties later in the year than sending city money to Texas for more of the same.
“We could write a $50,000 check to the chamber and if it just sat there for promotions for the city and nothing was done, the taxpayers would be $50,000 more to the good,” Baisden said.
The council put off making a decision until June. In the meantime, Eubank said he would talk to the chamber and investigate other options.