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Opinion: A little off our rockers

By Bob Conrad

RenoTahoeORANGELogoThe story behind the story of the RSCVA campaign rollout

If you’ve been following much of the news and online discussion the last day or so, you may have noticed a certain quasi-public entity known as the RSCVA unveiled its rebranding of Reno-Tahoe area.

Actually, what you may have heard is that the Reno Mayor wagged his finger in defiance of the tagline of said campaign. But there’s a whole lot more to the story that wasn’t reported.

Despite yesterday’s news media grandstanding – that is, grandstanding for the news media and by the news media – there are in fact much more prosaic tidbits about this campaign you may not be aware of thanks to how the event yesterday is being reported.

Such as:

  • RSCVA held 23 publicly noticed meetings about the campaign throughout its development.
  • Numerous stakeholder groups were invited to a number of meetings about the campaign prior to its public launch.
  • Therefore, members of the public had plenty of opportunity to chime in at any given step of the way, including, presumably, the mayor, who secured much of the ink from yesterday’s event for his criticism of the campaign’s tagline.
  • The campaign to date has cost $132,000. If you calculate the hourly costs for the firm involved, chances are this would come to less than what it would cost you hourly to take your car to a mechanic.
  • Such an expense needs to be considered in context in two ways: 1. the result of getting research for such a campaign incorrect would be far more costly; and 2. the return on investment of such a campaign will most likely be far greater than the actual dollars spent. In other words, RSCVA’s investment will most likely show a return for years to come. The crux of the issue that few seem understand is how RSCVA will measure this. That will be the ultimate test of the campaign.
  • Finally, many have cried foul at an out-of-state agency being hired to create the campaign. RSCVA in fact solicited 85 firms, of which 22 were from the local area. A panel of local stakeholders ultimately selected the firm from the Bay Area.

The conclusions to be gleaned from these otherwise unreported or under-emphasized realities are that RSCVA took the steps necessary to inform the necessary people about the campaign. Its Web site does a good job of laying out what it’s doing and why.

Were there missteps in how the campaign was unveiled? Probably yes, as there would be for any effort of this magnitude. Does that mean RSCVA screwed up? No more than anyone else would in such a position. One visit to its Web site demonstrates, however, that RSCVA took a number of proactive steps to inform the public of what it was doing.

The villains in this scenario are the members of public who refuse to take the time to be informed about what actually goes into a marketing campaign, and why. Perhaps more so, your local news media should bear the brunt of that responsibility for repeatedly ignoring the campaign’s developments for months only to take a slice of grandstanding by an elected official and turn that into a loaded headline (well, a few loaded headlines, as the headlines keep changing depending on the spin of the moment the editors want to take with the story) guaranteed to incite readers and encourage misunderstanding of a brand roll-out.

In fact, RSCVA should be commended for taking risks in an economy that desperately needs such an approach. That only downside to this has been the way it’s been reported and interpreted. Little of that responsibility falls onto the shoulders of those at RSCVA.

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