Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pure Michigan PR

Renewed discussions on finding funds to resurrect our great state's Pure Michigan tourism campaign remind me of two reasons I believe so strongly in the power of PR (and advertising) to reposition Michigan.

On July 2, my husband and I sat on the back porch of the Mackinac Public Library in white Adirondack chairs taking in the spectacular Island water views. Striking up a conversation with the woman next to me (also lucky enough to be spending a sunny, 80+ degree day in such a breathtaking setting), she mentioned she was visiting Michigan - and staying at the Grand Hotel - as a result of seeing the Pure Michigan ads in her home state of Pennsylvania. Plus, she was there with husband, children and grandchildren in tow. That's a lot of potential fudge purchases! Not to mention more than a few nickels that were spent at the Grand Hotel and other Island hot spots.

After our stop at the library, we headed to lunch at the Iroquois Hotel. Yes folks, the address might say Mackinac Island but the feel is pure California and Maine rolled into one. With craggy rocks, a marina and endless blue on the waterfront menu, we had to pinch ourselves that we were really in Michigan - Pure Michigan. Following one of the most delightful al fresco lunches ever (yep, it even beats Santa Monica's famed Shutters on the Beach) we headed back to the main street where a couple on bikes asked if the Hotel was open for lunch. We assured them it was and that they were in for a wonderful experience. Turns out,they were from Florida and were spending a week in Northern Michigan. I neglected to ask them about the Pure Michigan ad, but they did mention they had no ties to our state whatsoever, they just selected Michigan for something new. They gushed about their vacation and how pleased they were with their decision.

We had a Pure Michigan summer, with visits to Saugatuck, Holland, Indian River (and a harrowing, i mean memorable, canoeing trip on the Sturgeon River) and even our local metro park. I've certainly done my part to spread the message about the leisure activities Michigan has to offer vacationers. Something tells me our Pennsylvania and Florida visitors will do the same. Still, following the adage that PR leads and advertising follows, we need to back up our word of mouth campaigns with some Pure Michigan dollars.