|Magazine format enhances county’s PR mission|
by Kurt Johnson
A traditional every-other-year marketing piece for Hamilton County is anything but traditional this year, as a bright, red, glossy magazine has begun telling a well-known story in a whole new format, this time on a statewide scale.
Published as a joint venture between the Aurora Area Chamber & Development and Aurora News-Register, the new and improved "Hamilton County Guide" edition will be used to promote the area in a variety of ways.
"We see the bigger cities across Nebraska using this format and we’ve gotten feedback that it works very well for them," said Christian Evans, executive director of the AACD. "We think that we’re as progressive as most towns even five times larger than us and we wanted to be on the same playing level. I think the new magazine format looks great and we’ll be able to utilize it for economic development purposes as well as tourism for the area."
Promoting tourism is one area that Hamilton County needs to enhance its efforts and image, according to a recent TARGET study conducted by the Nebraska Department of Travel and Tourism.
The report noted that there are a number of attractions that draw visitors from outside the area, but the county doesn’t do as much as it could or should to promote them.
"We’re really missing out on some of the ability to market ourselves for many different purposes," Evans continued. "This piece should really help us accomplish that goal."
The new and improved "Guide" is an 80-page edition filled with full-color images touting the county’s attractions, recreation, education, health care, services, religion, and history. Each of the communities is featured with a profile article as well.
"Our goal with this new format was to produce more of a Reader’s Digest version of all there is to see and do in Hamilton County," said Kurt Johnson, News-Register co-publisher. "Having full-color access on glossy paper let our staff do some really creative things in terms of layout and design, which helps present a more attractive image."
Johnson noted that there are two separate target audiences the magazine is intended to reach. One is new or prospective residents or businesses, and the other is I-80 travellers who may want to visit some of the tourism attractions on their way by.
"Those audiences are looking for different information, but it made sense to produce a high-end product that serves both needs," Johnson added. "It also creates a very valuable marketing tool for businesses throughout the county."
One of the reasons the magazine ended up being 80 pages (far more than the initial estimate) was due in part to a grant from the Hamilton County Visitor’s Committee. The AACD requested $5,000 from the fund, which was used to help defray the cost of printing, thereby making advertisements less expensive.
"The Hamilton County Visitors Committee was glad to have participated in this project," said committee chairman Steve Leach. "The magazine supports the entire county and we hope it makes people think about visiting Hamilton County and directs business development our way."
Leach said the magazine was professionally produced and shows off all of the communities in the county.
"The committee’s job is to help promote Hamilton County and the activities in our communities," he said. "It was a perfect fit."
Heather Ballas and Heather Hurt from the AACD helped edit the magazine, which was produced by the News-Register staff. They also delivered several hundred of the 5,000 copies to a Nebraska Travel Association swap event in Hastings, from which they were distributed to eight locations along Interstate 80 from Omaha to Kimball.
"As far as the statewide distribution, it is important to draw people in from other towns and bring the outside dollars in," said Ballas, AACD’s development associate. "People will see the bright red covers at the visitor centers and I think that will help draw them to Aurora to see what we have to offer."