Bill Skains, who sat on the Tourism Community Enhancement District Board (TCED) of Directors, the organization responsible for marketing Branson, for a of number years has been very “vocal” in his opposition to the CVB’s participation in the Virgin Group’s “Branson to Branson” online event, which, according to many of our areas leading marketing experts, was an overwhelming success. Early on Skains emailed the TCED complaining about it and, most recently, expressed his opinion on the front page of the April 10 edition of the Branson Tri-Lakes News in an article entitled, “Not all grinning at prank.”
It’s not Skains opinions, but the logic and rationale that those opinions appear to be based on that amazes an Ole Seagull. Incredulously, in his original email to the TCED he said, “I am thinking that somewhere or some time we need to apologize to the taxpayers if anyone was offended…”
Apologize for what? For $15.5 million worth of additional publicity for Branson shows, attractions and businesses! During an interview with Lynn Berry, Director of Public Relations for the Branson Tri-Lakes CVB on April 17 she said that the reports from the companies the CVB uses to measure “ad equivalency” show that the Virgin Group’s “Branson to Branson” online event generated about $9.69 million worth of mostly social media ad equivalency for the three days of March 31, April 1 and April 2 and $6 million in mostly non-social medial ad equivalency on March 31.
The article mentions his displeasure with posting the “joke” on “Explore Branson.com.” In his original email to the TCED he said, “I personally believe that someone using their private website to have fun is different than using a public owned website to pull off a joke on its citizens….I am trying to not be too serious here but utilizing the public’s website to do such crosses the line.”
Oh really! From a marketing perspective the figures speak for themselves, but what’s really scary to an Ole Seagull is Skains obvious failure to realize that the primary purpose of the posts had nothing to do with pulling “off a joke on its citizens,” but with making people aware of and sharing a little bit of Branson. Explore Branson and its social media sights were used precisely for what they were designed to be used for, the marketing of Branson.
In the article Skains continues, “My problem with this is I wish it would have been left on his website,…That’s where it generated $1.5 million worth of value. That’s where it came from, his website. It already had its desired effect before it was put on the taxpayers’ website. How many more people read our Explore Branson website versus Richard Branson’s, CNN, NBC, CBS?” As the Ole Seagull read that he thought, “This must be what Abraham Lincoln meant when he said, ‘He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.'”
If, as is the case of most internet marketing, “it” had been left on “his website,” and had not been picked up and spread virally by other web sites including “Explore Branson,” “CNN, NBC, CBS” and many others, the event would have had relatively little marketing impact. Fortuntely, as pointed out above, that was not the case.
And speaking of apologies because taxpayer might be offended, in an Ole Seagulls opinion, it would be more appropriate to ask the current TCED Board and the past Board Members, including Skains himself to apologize for, what he believes is, a consistent pattern of breaching their fiduciary duty regarding the diversion of millions of TCED marketing dollars to pay the Branson TIFs. The sad thing is that the thing Skains wanted an apology for added millions to the benefit of marketing Branson while the apology he should make personally, and ask for, has cost millions upon millions of dollars that could have been used to market Branson.