WILMINGTON – When the city decided that it was time to launch a refocused version of its “It’s Time” marketing campaign after the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been able to catch the coattails of Joe Biden’s presidential win to success.The original goal for the campaign was to sell Wilmington as a place to live, work and play and build pride in the city’s revitalization efforts. With the pandemic limiting people’s movement and largely hindering new job creation, city officials and their marketing team refocused “It’s Time” to support the ailing hospitality industry and get locals out and about safely.Joe DiGiovanni, co-founder of the Wilmington marketing firm Tapp Network that is overseeing the campaign, noted that the first goal was to draw attention to businesses in different sections of the city, including the Riverfront, Downtown, Trolley Square, West Side and East Side.“The whole goal is to help people unlock their lockdown,” he explained. “For everyone who is in their house eating ramen but wants to go out and eat safely, we were the people on the street letting them know where to go.”The team began visiting restaurants and broadcasting Facebook Live interviews to give the public a look at the precautions being taken by businesses. It also partnered with ChristianaCare to share COVID-19 testing site info and other noteworthy public health news.The multi-faceted campaign includes TV advertisements filmed by Short Order Production House that have reached about 1.5 million people in the Tri-State area through Comcast. It also has a hub website, WilmToday.com, and social media accounts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The social media campaign has found blossoming success, garnering 26,000 conversations, 4,575 video views, and 534,00 total impressions as of Dec. 1.DiGiovanni credits a lot of that reach to his firm’s engagement technology, including tracking of social media mentions, marketing automation, artificial intelligence, and more.“All of these things help us understand what people are talking about and we’re able to capture that,” he said.
[caption id="attachment_206161" align="alignleft" width="300"]The Daily Beast website published this travel story on Wilmington in November that was widely shared online. | SCREENSHOT[/caption]
Some of the campaign’s most high-profile successes came from its contracting of New York-based public relations firm Venue, which has connected leading hospitality industry journalists with the Wilmington team. That has resulted in well-received stories in Food & Wine magazine, The Daily Beast website and a segment on CBS’ “This Morning.” DiGiovanni said those efforts have reached an estimated 40 million people.Those news outlets have clearly seen the interest in Wilmington rise on the back of Biden’s election, as the city has served as the backdrop for nearly all of the president-elect’s most-important moments and continues to attract national outlets covering the presidential transition process.“Now these folks have an extra reason to come to town, and we’re rolling out the red carpet for them. It's covering the president-elect but at the same time, basically giving a tour of the city and introducing them to our business and community leaders,” DiGiovanni said. “People from the city are loving all these folks coming into town, and our goal is to capture that excitement and vibe that the city hasn't seen a long time.” Katie Zamarra, of Venue, said that she jumped at the chance to help the “It’s Time” campaign even though its objectives were a little different than her firm’s traditional lifestyle focus as her brother and parents live in Delaware and she has considered it a pseudo-second home.“It really is time for the secret to get out to the media,” she said, noting she was thrilled with the response from writers who have visited so far. “I think there's just so much potential going forward.”By Jacob Owensjowens@delawarebusinesstimes.com