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Influencers, Journalists Invited to 'Love Pittsfield'
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
04:46AM / Thursday, September 15, 2022
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City councilors wear 'Love Pittsfield' hats for a presentation on Pittsfield's new marketing campaign.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A marketing analysis of the city revealed that it was "missing the mark of millennials" so Pittsfield brought in journalists and influencers and wound up with a New York Times review.

Director of Cultural Development Jen Glockner and consultant Roger Matus on Tuesday updated the City Council on Pittsfield's public relations campaign to rebuild travel, tourism, and hospitality economy-post pandemic.

Glockner said a writer with The New York Times scored Pittsfield "as beautiful as I expected. ... walkable … lively music scene and a growing number of bars, coffee shops, and restaurants."

The next step is to leverage the success and broaden Pittsfield's coverage.

The effort — titled "Love Pittsfield" — was allocated about $340,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and has spent about 40 percent of it.

The campaign and website was launched in November 2021 to replace its predecessor "Discover Pittsfield." It serves as a one-stop resource for nightlife and arts, outdoors, food and drink, shopping, and the North Street downtown cultural district.

Matus spent more than 50 hours interviewing people from 23 different organizations to understand the marketing challenges and looked at sales customer records.

The organizations and survey results revealed that between 2013 and 2021, 65 percent of the city and Berkshire County visitors were ages 18 to 44 years old. The results showed that family travel parties are up 77 percent.

Mauer Desai of Best Western told that Matus that Pittsfield is "missing the mark" on millennials and Natalie Neubert of Berkshire Music School told him that Pittsfield is starting to become the center for young families. 

The task is to attract them through new platforms.

"So what do these younger families, couples want? Well, I asked them and they want active days and lively nights. They want a daytime of active outdoors and scenic beauty and a nighttime of music especially, shows, craft food, craft drink, craft beer. That's what they're looking for," Matus said.

"And frankly, Pittsfield delivers on all these things, we just have to remind ourselves of it once in a while. We have a ski resort, we have trails for hiking including the [Pittsfield] State Forest and the Canoe Meadows and the Boulders, lakes for swimming, two world-class theaters, three museums, shopping, hotels, lively music,"

"We're funky, we're diverse we're centrally located for a wonderful Berkshire adventure. It's a great city so we've got to get this information out. We have to tell people what's going on."

He pointed out that younger families are not getting information by "looking in the back section of the newspaper." More than 52 percent choose a destination through Google searches, nearly half use word of mouth, and more than a third use social media.

This is where the influencers and journalists came in.

"Traditional advertising will not work for this new audience. Print ads don't get into Google search and social media. Digital ads, not only do they vanish as soon as the ad is done, but they just compete against the Berkshire institutions that are bidding for the same ad space in private places,"  Matus argued.

"And email is great at reaching people you're already talking to, but not very good at reaching people you've never talked to so let's get the influencers and journalists to write about us."

For this reason, journalists and influencers were invited to visit Pittsfield to write about and photograph the city and its institutions. The aim is for the content creators to make articles, posts, videos, and reels to tell the city's story to a new audience.

Bospar, a public relations agency, was hired through an request for proposals process in May and within two months the first influencer came to Pittsfield.

Ten "fam" trips with customized itineraries and connections to local experts and businesses were facilitated throughout July and August there are four more planned through January.

A majority of the influencers came from New York City due to the recent completion of the Berkshire Flyer. There was also one from Boston.

They were not paid but out-of-pocket expenses for the visit were covered.

Aside from the Times article in July that featured testimonies from Big Apple travelers coming to Pittsfield, it has garnered attention from other national and regional media outlets.

"Love Pittsfield" has about 4.2 million estimated views and 131 placements. Glockner played a few Tiktok videos that were made by influencers in the city, one featuring City Hall.

"The real thing we've got to do now is leverage the success," Matus said, urging engagement on social media platforms with #LovePittsfield links and partners such as 1Berkshire and Downtown Pittsfield Inc. also leveraging the content.

He called for a "cadence of coverage" to get the attention of more influencers, to expand market coverage to all of 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 actually seen these on Tiktok with thousands of comments and most of them are all positive so great work."

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