What a year 2012 was. In fact, I can’t wait until next
week to post this year-in-review summary because who knows, those Mayans might
be right and next week may be too late.
We had a secret when 2012 began. We were quietly working
on changing our company name from Inprint to Mikula-Harris. It was an easy
decision but tough to get used to. We had been Inprint for 20 years. Much had
changed in those 20 years, including the scope of services we offer clients —
and the name Inprint suggested to many that we focused solely on print media.
Nothing could be further from the truth. While we believe in the value of print
and produce excellent print media advertising and collateral work, we also
produce web and video content, not to mention strategic branding, social
media consultation and much more.
The name change was publicly announced in March in
Tunica, Mississippi, where Mikula-Harris was a proud sponsor of the Southeast
Tourism Society Spring Conference. We kicked it off with a small campaign about
change, giving out very cool posters steering people to a special landing page created just for the announcement. Also at the conference in Tunica, I received certification as a TMP (Travel
Marketing Professional), earned by completing three
years of Southeast Tourism Society Marketing College. I’m convinced it is the
finest continuing education program for tourism professionals in the country
and I’m proud to serve on its board of trustees.
Creatively, our team continued to produce great work in 2012. The
big ideas and excellent design we develop for our tourism clients as well as
our legacy clients just keeps getting better. Early in the year, our work for the
Alleghany Highlands was in DC Metro stations as part of the
Virginia Tourism Corporation’s DC Blitz. This campaign rocked with web traffic,
inquiries and social media interaction going through the roof.
Mid-simmer saw the launch of a beautiful new website for
Luray & Page County in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The website
reflects the brand strategy we developed for this client. Despite some minor
backsliding, the site remains a monstrous marketing tool for tourism in the county.
It’s rich in content, easy to navigate and, most importantly, powerfully sells
the many great opportunities in the county. Shortly after launching the site we
compared a 30-day period to a comparable period the year before and the average
time on site and average page views per visitor increased significantly and
inquiries (either requesting a visitor guide or signing up for the
e-newsletter) increased an astonishing 350%.
A few more ultra-cool initiatives developed in the final
quarter of the year. In Abingdon, Virginia, the Convention & Visitors Bureau
and a local non-profit partnered to promote locally grown or manufactured food
products. Our assignment was to create a campaign that promotes establishments
that serve local products, thus creating a demand for them to use more local
product and entice more establishments to get involved in the program. It’s
called Rooted in Appalachia and it turned out to be a fun campaign that has a lot
of local buzz. We think it’s going to be a huge success that will eventually take root (pun
intended) all across southwest Virginia and northern Tennessee. In November we launched a new website
for a four-county tourism group known as Virginia’s Western Highlands. If
you’ve never heard of this region, be patient – you will. It is a beautiful
portion of the state along the border with West Virginia. It has great small
towns, interesting historic sites, outdoor recreation and unspoiled views that
go on forever. I’m pleased to say that the website appropriately captures the
charm and beauty of the region. A visitor guide and perhaps even more marketing
will be out next year.
So, what’s next? I’m not at liberty to reveal the creative work
yet, but let’s just say that we’re going to showcase Abingdon, Virginia, as you’ve
never seen it before. And the Alleghany Highlands is about to take a couple of
big steps toward securing their reputation as the next great destination for
outdoor enthusiasts. As for Mikula-Harris, we’ll continue to introduce
ourselves to DMOs and CVBs across the southeast who are serious about taking
their tourism marketing to new levels just like the examples highlighted here.