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Common Currency: All eyes on Park Rapids, thanks to 2013 opener

Alan Zemek

When is the absolute best time to advertise? It is when your customers are already thinking about you. And right now, Minnesota is thinking about Park Rapids.

The Associated Press picked up last Saturday's announcement by Explore Minnesota that the Park Rapids area would host the 2013 Governor's Fishing Opener May 10-11 of next year. Within 24 hours 144 newspapers, television stations and various media outlets all across the state picked up the story or ran an article about Park Rapids.

When is the best opportunity to reinforce your brand image? It is when your customers are already feeling positive about you.

The Explore Minnesota announcement described Park Rapids as an area with excellent fishing and a long history as a family vacation destination, and home of Itasca State Park, the Heartland Trail, Lake Country Scenic Byway, and the Chippewa National Forest. That sounds good to me.

Think about it. 144 newspapers, television stations and media outlets all over the state just published positive articles about Park Rapids with a positive message endorsed by Minnesota's premier tourism promotion organization, Explore Minnesota. You can't buy that kind of media exposure and the Explore Minnesota endorsement is like getting the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval to boot.

But why wait for 2013? If there was ever a time and opportunity for a coordinated marketing campaign to promote our area this is it. The tourism season just opened and we just got mentioned by every news and media outlet in the state, and by some in Wisconsin, North Dakota and even Indiana.

And what better reason do you need for a little self- promotion? Every resort, hotel, inn, restaurant, golf course and business owner in the area now has the perfect excuse to contact every customer and guest on their mailing list with an invitation to come for a repeat visit this summer.

The best advertising campaigns reinforce awareness, build brand equity, create a point of distinction and communicate a strong call to action in the mind of your audience.

The best slogans are simple, straightforward and evocative. How about something like: "Park Rapids. You just want to be here." Well, it's true for me anyway.

In any case, let's have a great summer. I think we deserve it.

Alan J. Zemek is a Park Rapids area developer and author of "Generation Busted: How America Went Broke in the Age of Prosperity." You can follow his blog, or comment on this article on his website, www.genera