PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A marketing analysis of the city found it was “missing the millennial mark,” so Pittsfield brought in journalists and influencers and ended up with a New York Times review.
Director of Cultural Development Jen Glockner and consultant Roger Matus briefed City Council on Tuesday on Pittsfield’s public relations campaign to rebuild the travel, tourism and hospitality economy after the pandemic.
Glockner said a writer for The New York Times rated Pittsfield “as beautiful as I expected. … walkable…bustling music scene and a growing number of bars, cafes and restaurants.”
The next step is to build on the success and expand Pittsfield’s coverage.
The effort — titled “Love Pittsfield” — received about $340,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and spent about 40 percent of it.
The campaign and website launched in November 2021 to replace its predecessor “Discover Pittsfield”. It serves as a one-stop resource for nightlife and the arts, the outdoors, food and drink, shopping, and the downtown North Street cultural district.
Matus spent over 50 hours interviewing people from 23 different organizations to understand marketing challenges and reviewing business client records.
The organizations and survey results revealed that between 2013 and 2021, 65% of visitors to the city and county of Berkshire were between the ages of 18 and 44. The results showed that family travel increased by 77%.
Best Western’s Mauer Desai told Matus that Pittsfield was “missing the mark” on millennials, and Berkshire Music School’s Natalie Neubert told him that Pittsfield was starting to become the hub for young families.
The task is to attract them through new platforms.
“So what do these young families, these couples want? Well, I asked them and they want active days and lively nights. They want a day of active outdoors and scenic beauty and a night of music in particular, live entertainment, craft food, craft drinks, craft beer. That’s what they’re looking for,” Matus said.
“And frankly, Pittsfield offers all of those things, we just have to remind ourselves of that once in a while. We have a ski resort, we have hiking trails, including the [Pittsfield] State Forest and the Canoe Meadows and the Boulders, swimming lakes, two world-class theaters, three museums, shopping, hotels, upbeat music.”
“We’re funky, we’re diverse, we’re located in the center of a wonderful adventure in Berkshire. It’s a great town, so we need to get that information out there. We need to tell people what’s going on.”
He pointed out that young families do not get information by “looking in the last section of the newspaper”. More than 52% choose a destination via Google searches, almost half use word of mouth and more than a third use social networks.
This is where influencers and journalists come in.
“Traditional advertising won’t work for this new audience. Print ads don’t fit into Google search and social media. of Berkshire who are bidding for the same ad space in private locations,” Matus explained.
“And email is great at reaching people you already talk to, but not great at reaching people you’ve never talked to, so ask influencers and journalists to write about us.”
For this reason, journalists and influencers have been invited to visit Pittsfield to write about and photograph the city and its institutions. The goal is for content creators to create articles, posts, videos, and reels to tell the city’s story to new audiences.
Bospar, a public relations firm, was hired through an RFP process in May, and within two months the first influencer came to Pittsfield.
Ten “familiarization” trips with personalized itineraries and contacts with local experts and businesses have been organized in July and August, four more are planned until January.
The majority of influencers came from New York due to the recent completion of the Berkshire Flyer. There was also one from Boston.
They were not paid but the personal expenses of the visit were covered.
Besides the July Times article which featured testimonials from travelers from the Big Apple coming to Pittsfield, it attracted the attention of other national and regional media.
“Love Pittsfield” has approximately 4.2 million estimated views and 131 placements. Glockner released a few Tiktok videos made by city influencers, including one featuring City Hall.
“The real thing we need to do now is build on the success,” Matus said, calling for engagement on social media platforms with #LovePittsfield links and partners such as 1Berkshire and Downtown Pittsfield Inc. also pulling part of the content.
He called for a “coverage cadence” to get the attention of more influencers, to expand market coverage across the Northeast, and to bring #LovePittsfield to more residents.
Ward 6 Councilor Dina Guiel Lampiasi thanked the two for their efforts, speculating that when millennial friends come to visit Pittsfield residents “they love it”.
“I think what you’re doing is great,” Ward 5 Councilor Patrick Kavey said.
“I’ve seen them on Tiktok with thousands of comments and most of them are all positive so great job.”
Key words: marketing, tourism,