How do you promote tourism amid a deadly worldwide pandemic and national social unrest?
Very carefully and with an abundance of discretion.
That was the message Cam Campman, general manager/creative director of Anvil Northwest, delivered to the Roseburg City Council on Monday. Anvil is the Roseburg-based company hired by the city last year to promote tourism in the region.
“Needless to say, the world got weird in the last three months. Everything fundamentally changed,” Campman said. “I feel like everything has an asterisk right now, especially when you talk about summertime. It feels like summer got canceled.”
It’s important to be flexible in these uncertain times, he said. For example, in response to COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, Anvil has focused more of its marketing on the natural beauty of the area and the solitude it offers.
“Practicing social distancing since 1872,” one line reads from experienceroseburg.com, referring to the year the city was incorporated. The site features videos showcasing a host of outdoor activities, including fishing, rafting, hiking and skiing.
“We’re promoting this as a way to get away from the critical mass of the city,” Campman said. “Roseburg is a secret spot. Secret spots are always precious.”
Anvil was awarded the contract to promote the region early last year, and began the work in earnest last summer. It took over the task from the Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce, which for the previous 20 years had handled tourism promotion.
The split from the chamber followed criticisms from city officials that the chamber’s promotion and its oversight of the visitor center had become dated. A new contract was put out to bid in February 2019 and Anvil was selected among four groups — including the chamber — and awarded a three-year contract worth nearly $1.5 million.
Anvil unveiled Experience Roseburg, along with the logo and website, last fall. The new campaign was scheduled to officially launch in mid-April at a party planned at a new live music venue in downtown Roseburg. But the party was canceled due to COVID-19, and the site launched quietly.
After that, everything came to a halt. More than a dozen summer events were canceled, including such staples as Music on the Half Shell and Graffiti Weekend.
The matter of where to put the visitor center and what it might look like still needs to be decided, Campman told the City Council. He suggested three choices: Keep it at its previous location at the chamber headquarters at 410 SE Spruce St., move it to a new location or use several “micro sites.”
The chamber building is established and beautiful, but it needs some basic repairs, Campman said. For example, the carpeting is damaged and there is black mold.
“It needs some TLC. It just hasn’t had some love in a while,” Campman said. “But if the city wants us in there, we’ll be in there next week.”
Campman also said Anvil looked at a few sites in the area to locate a new visitor center, but none quite fit the bill. Locating it at a micro site such as a hotel lobby or the library would cost less and could be moved around as needed, Campman said. But it would also be unstaffed and possibly hard to find, he said.
The challenges of promoting tourism during these times notwithstanding, Campman said Anvil has plenty of ideas and material to jump-start the campaign once things return to normal.
“We have enough content now to get us through to 2021, which is great,” he said. Anvil will continue adding fresh content and additional platforms, including a possible YouTube channel that would be updated weekly, Campman said.
“There’s nothing like launching a tourism campaign during the apocalypse.”
IN OTHER ACTION
The Roseburg City Council on Monday also:
- Vacated on first reading a portion of an alley adjacent to the Roseburg Rescue Mission, known as Southeast Sheridan Alley, so the mission can secure financing for a proposed remodel of the men’s dormitory.
- Approved the purchase of four new fully equipped police vehicles — costing a total of $221,876 — to replace four vehicles that are each three years old.
Approved spending just over $1 million to re-pave sections of two roads — Winchester Street from Stephens Street to Diamond Lake Boulevard, and Beulah Avenue from Central Avenue to its end. The work will total just over 1 mile of road and include ramp improvements in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Changed on first reading the building regulations to make it easier for a homeowner to make additions to a home without having to pay for a new sidewalk, or extend an existing one.