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10/25/2017 EconomicDevelopment
Little Rock's Amazon Jilting Worth $1.7M, Had Potential Audience of 1 Billion People

By Noel Oman

The value of Little Rock's widely publicized mock breakup with Amazon was worth $1.7 million and was available to a potential audience of 1 billion, according to Cision, a company specializing in assessing the effectiveness of advertising and marketing.

A mention of the "Love, Little Rock" campaign in Fortune magazine was the most valuable, at an estimated $591,534, according to Cision's publicity value calculations, which the company said are based on length of story, the type of media in which it appeared and the number of impressions, defined as opportunities someone had to see an individual article.

The most widely seen mention of the campaign was in the online version of The Washington Post, which had a potential audience of 43.9 million on each of the two days measured. But its publicity value was a fraction of the Fortune mention, which was a little more than $50,000. Lucie Pathmann, an executive for the Little Rock advertising firm of Stone Ward, said the mention in Fortune was more valuable because it was a print medium with a more selective audience.

The campaign, to let Amazon know that central Arkansas was not interested in being the location for Amazon's second headquarters, was reported in other online, print and television outlets including Reuters Online, Bloomberg News Online, Business Insider, Us Weekly Online, Slate, ABC News, U.S. News & World Report, Salon, National Public Radio and Market Watch. The campaign also reached well beyond the United States, appearing on Times of India Online and the Irish Independent Online.

In all, the campaign was mentioned in 725 online, print, radio or television outlets, the result of "pushing out" news releases publicizing the campaign that resulted in a story or account of the campaign in some form, Pathmann said. The potential audience, depending on the outlet, was based on circulation for print media, average daily visitors for websites and ratings for television outlets, Pathmann said.

The firm put together the "It's Not You, It's Us" breakup letter that was used in a full page advertisement in The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Stone Ward also produced a video version of the breakup letter that is available at LoveLittleRock.org. Stone Ward said it wasn't paid to create the advertisement or the video.

Leading organizers of the effort said they were stunned by the reach and value of the campaign. "First of all, we planned in a very short period of time something we thought would work," said Jay Chesshir, the top official at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. "But that it would work to the level that you're seeing on all these different sites?

"Some of these were exactly what we were trying to say and all of them said things positively about us. When was the last time that happened in Little Rock?" Chesshir said he would likely go back to the the opening of the Clinton Presidential Library in 2004 when the city was on the world stage.

"Regardless of your politics, it was something special," he said. "There was positive publicity for Little Rock all across the world."

The ploy got Little Rock more attention than many of the 238 cities that applied to be the location for Amazon's second headquarters, which the company said would be an investment worth $5 billion and employ 50,000 people.

The video version of the city's breakup was one of eight singled out by Fortune.com. "You can see the variety in the videos from eight cities," says an introduction to the videos before adding: "So take a quick tour across North America with the pitches below - and if all the persuasion wears you out, check out Little Rock's video rejection letter at the end."

"I think we absolutely hit a home run in terms of getting people's attention, both company and talent, to take a look at a place they may have never looked at before and its ability to provide a wonderful place to live, work, learn and play," Chesshir said.

Not everyone liked the campaign, Chesshir said, but that's expected in any marketing effort. "The worst thing for a branding or advertising effort is to have no one talk about it," Chesshir said. "What this did was show an audience of over 1 billion people a place in America that has a lot of the things that companies are looking for in a location" that they might not otherwise have considered, he said. Pathmann said the Cision report measured sentiment, both positive and negative. "At first blush, less than 10 percent of the feedback was negative," she said. "And most of that, FYI, was in the state of Arkansas."

The campaign was developed over nine days after Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola sent out a tweet last month saying the city would seek to secure Amazon's second headquarters despite meeting few of the criteria established by the company. Amazon won't consider Little Rock, but Chesshir said he thinks other companies now will, thanks to the campaign. "What we know is we have created an awareness," he said.

Article courtesy of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette