Rhode Island Tourism Campaign and the Case for Agency Integration

It’s been a tough week for Rhode Island. The state’s new tourism campaign hit a couple of bumps this week and integration—or lack thereof—may be to blame. Rhode Island NPR pointed out several major errors on the campaign’s website, including information about a deceased chef and one who closed his Providence restaurant a year ago to open a place in Boston. Additionally, in editing a promotional video, stock footage that featured a recognizable landmark—from Iceland—was included to represent beautiful Little Rhody. The video firm apologized for including the footage and is working to replace it with a skateboarder from the Ocean State.

Posters have cropped up to highlight the campaign, featuring the hashtag #cooler&warmer. While there has been a lot of commentary about the tagline itself, I’m not here to comment whether it works for the state or not. But, a savvy social marketer would have noted to the designer that ampersands don’t work in hashtags and the hashtag should have been #coolerandwarmer.

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Photo credit: Twitter user @ccc_

These errors probably could’ve been avoided if the teams involved in the campaign had worked in an integrated manner. A variety of stakeholders should have had an opportunity to weigh in: Social marketers, the public relations team, video producers, state tourism officials. Someone in the group would’ve been likely to notice these mistakes before the campaign was launched broadly – including on the Governor’s Twitter account.

Likely, the components of this campaign were executed by a variety of agencies, without a lot of collaboration. When a multi-disciplined agency practices true integration with its client, and campaign elements are coordinated across channels, mistakes are minimized and the product is more likely to resonate with a variety of audiences. Disciplines have the opportunity to hold healthy debate about what works universally across all media—paid, earned and owned. We all know that state budgets can be tight—and scrutinized carefully—so in this era of viral social media, everyone needs to communicate frequently in order get it right the first time. And that means a more integrated approach.

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