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TDC: Vacationers should come to Panama City Beach after Hurricane Michael


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In Panama City Beach’s new marketing plan, “We need to show FEMA people checking out of the hotels, and people with beach things checking in,” one board member suggested.

PANAMA CITY BEACH – The message could not be clearer, marketing consultant Mary Winslow said: “We’re still here, and the Beach is looking great!”

That, in a nutshell, constitutes the Bay County Tourist Development Council’s new $8.1 million strategic marketing plan for 2019.

During an hour-long meeting on Tuesday, TDC board members listened intently as Jayna Leach, the council’s vice president of marketing, and several representatives of the group’s marketing consultant Luckie & Company, outlined a three-phase campaign to attract both new and returning visitors to Panama City Beach next spring.

The initial phase, which will run from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, will focus on using local voices and online inputs to convey the “inspirational” message to potential visitors, “This is our community (and) we want to share it with you,’” Winslow told the board. “This is your home away from home.”

Then beginning in January, the wide array of print and TV advertisements, online videos, podcasts and other social media elements will shift to a more proactive stance, Winslow said. “We will encourage visitors to start planning their spring and summer vacations,” she said.

The third phase, which will span the tourism season itself, will embrace a full range of marketing and advertising to show the Beach as an active and vibrant destination.

One new element of the campaign will feature online content – written and video – from volunteer Panama City Beach residents who will follow the themes “Share the moment,” “share the memory,” and “share the sunshine,” said Marie Goodall, creative director for Luckie & Co.


TDC board members strongly supported the proposed marketing plan, but several said the outreach should heavily stress the fact that the Beach escaped the wrath and destruction that Hurricane Michael wrought on eastern Bay County.

“Let’s not wait for people to ask” if the Beach is intact, TDC Chairman Andy Phillips said. “We need to get the word out.”

Board member Yonnie Patronis called on Leach and her consultants to include “hard, factual data” in the advertising effort that confirms that Beach lodging, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses are fully operational. “I want them (potential tourists) to learn that we are ready now.”

“Griff’ Griffitts Jr. said it is imperative that the TDC spare no effort to entice tourism to the Beach in 2019. Given the destruction to so many businesses east of the Hathaway Bridge, he said, “The beach will be the engine for the Bay County economy next year.”

One board member made a specific suggestion for the early advertising campaign.

“We need to show FEMA people checking out of the hotels, and people with beach things checking in,” said Buddy Wilkes.

The board voted unanimously 7-0, with members David Chapman and Gary Walsingham absent, to approve the marketing plan.

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