Plumas County Visitors Bureau proves its worth

The Plumas County Visitors Bureau has once again proved its worth, this time with a feature about the county’s fall foliage on the front page of the Sacramento Bee’s Sunday Living Here section. The coverage included a huge color picture and two smaller color pictures, and another color picture and map on a jump page. The Bee also included the story in its electronic daily news update.

You can’t buy that kind of exposure. What do we mean by that? The most powerful real estate in a newspaper is its front page, followed by the front page of each subsequent section. With a few (misguided, in our opinion) exceptions, you can’t buy advertising on a front page. Inclusion in news coverage, as opposed to advertising, tells the reader that the editorial staff found the information newsworthy; placement on the front page tells the reader it’s the most newsworthy information in the whole section.

This coup follows previous successes for the Awesome Autumn promotion: coverage in Sunset and Via magazines; the San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today and New York Times newspapers; and by the Associated Press. The AP story was particularly effective since newspapers all around the world pick up AP stories, and it is still drawing responses because it is all over the Internet via search engines.

The Sac Bee reporter did a nice job of touching on all areas of the county and of highlighting some new features: the Leaf Peeper bike ride in Indian Valley, the barn quilt trail and the new wine-tasting room by Indian Peak Vineyards in Graeagle. (As an aside, kudos to the county museum for opening its doors on Sundays, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., during the fall foliage promotion. It may even extend its hours into November, depending on weather and use.)

In the light of this great work by Suzi Brakken and what remains of her staff at the visitors bureau, along with glowing testimonials from lodging providers, it puzzles us that some still question the bureau’s worth. The bureau currently has enough funding to see it through the end of the year, but without an infusion it will be forced to shut down, Brakken has said. Since 2008, the county’s contribution to the bureau has dropped from $260,000 to $30,000.

It might seem like the bureau could take a hiatus during the winter months; but those slower months are precisely when Brakken and her staff work on marketing materials, including the Plumas County Visitors Guide, for the coming year.

The supervisors have said that they will revisit the topic. We urge them to do so in a timely fashion so that the bureau can continue to market Plumas County to the benefit of everyone’s coffers.

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