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Lights, camera, Port Orchard

Tired of waiting for tourists to find Port Orchard on their own, the city’s Chamber of Commerce is investing $15,000 to make and air a television commercial promoting the area’s charms.

Chamber member Brian Pitro, who has been the driving force behind the project, said they got the idea after meeting a representative from Grays Harbor at last October’s Heritage Conference. The city, Pitro said, had spent $65,000 creating highly professional television commercials and then paying to air them.

Although Port Orchard’s Chamber has nowhere near that kind of money, Pitro admitted, the idea still sounded like a good one.

TV air time, he explained, runs about $40 to $100 for a 30-second spot — far more affordable than many in the Chamber realized.

“Media’s pretty cheap,” Pitro said.

Production costs, however, are not, and Pitro said the combination of the two would have been more than the Chamber could manage without help. Luckily, shortly after the meeting with Grays Harbor, the Chamber heard about a grant program through the state Department of Tourism and Economic Development that offered matching funds for small communities looking to promote themselves.

If the community could come up with $10,000, Pitro explained, the state would put forward another $10,000 to pay for air time on three networks — KING, KONG and Northwest Cable News.

Northwest Cable News is a particularly plum offer, Pitro said, because it reaches all the way out to western Montana and offers the best chance of attracting out-of-the-area interest in South Kitsap.

When the Port Orchard CIty Council last month approved giving the Chamber $9,600 from its Hotel/Motel Tax fund, the Chamber was guaranteed the chance to take its commercial project out for a spin.

Pitro said the decision was a wise one.

“I don’t want to slam the (Kitsap) Visitor and Convention Bureau (which typically gets the bulk of Hotel/Motel Tax revenues), but I don’t think our city’s getting enough for what we’re spending out of Hotel/Motel Tax,” Pitro said. “This is where the city can take their $10,000 and turn it into $20,000 and it goes directly to product. You get more bang for your buck.”

The Chamber will still need to raise around $5,000 for production costs, but Pitro said it intends to move forward with the process as it fundraises. Pitro and the other project members will meet on April 22 with the production company — Snohomish-based Morris Media, the same used by Grays Harbor — to talk about what they want and what they can afford.

The Chamber will also be meeting with local merchants to make sure they’re equipped to guide future tourists to local attractions, thereby completing the circle of community involvement.

Pitro said most like the idea of doing a “doughnut commercial” — one that uses 25 or so seconds of images of South Kitsap attractions combined with a five-second portion that can be traded out at regular intervals. Those five seconds, Pitro said, will be used to promote upcoming local events such as the Festival by the Bay. Placement of the ads will be tailored to the event promoted to make sure the people who see the commercial will be those most likely to be interested in its content.

Pitro is very optimistic the ads will bring in much-needed tourism revenue and make Port Orchard more of household name all over the Northwest.

“There’s a lot to tell,” he said.

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