City marketing campaign is just beginning

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Hold Fast Seal Beach: Eat. Shop. Play. Support Local! Local businesses are working hard and taking extra steps to make sure your visit is safe and they are ready when you are! Featured above is Seal Beach resident Isabella Ecklund enjoying “Doughnut Friday” at Donut City in Old Town Seal Beach. By posting on Facebook or Instagram and including #holdfastsb, she was entered into a contest to win a $50 gift card to a local Seal Beach business. A winner will be selected every week until Nov. 15. Courtesy photo

Difficult to tell if effort achieve its objective: promoting local business

Seal Beach launched the Hold Fast marketing campaign about three weeks ago. The consultant reported the social media campaign response was “pretty good” for a new project.

“It doesn’t end here,” said Les Johnson, the city’s Community Development Department director during this week’s City Council meeting.

“It’s just beginning,” he told the council.

In a Monday phone interview, Johnson said Hold Fast Seal Beach would be going on for several months.

The goals of the program, according to the original marketing proposal are to “Promote and expand awareness of Seal Beach businesses and services,” “Drive return and new business growth in all five districts,” “increase resident patronage,” and to “promote long- term customer relationships.”

As of Monday afternoon, the Hold Fast video on YouTube had been viewed 1,144 times since it was posted on Aug. 21. Five individuals had subscribed.

On Instagram, Hold Fast had received 17 posts and 194 followers.

On Facebook, there were 315 individuals following the page.

During a Monday, Sept. 28, phone interview, Johnson agreed that it was too soon to tell if the campaign would achieve its objective: promoting local businesses.

Johnson said that it was very difficult to definitively track whether people were coming to businesses in Seal Beach because of the Hold Fast campaign.

However, he said the city does know the number of people who are visiting the web page.

Deb Machen of MarketSnag agreed. “You are correct, in this instance it is very difficult to measure because I cannot be at every store, restaurant or service business to track where customers are coming from,” she wrote in a Sept. 29 email.

“Our social media video ads are generally receiving over 1,000 views in 24 hours, which is very good, especially considering the accounts and campaign are so new,” Machen wrote.

“The contest receives more attention each week, meaning that people are patronizing local businesses and giving them a shout out each time, by snapping a photo, tagging the business and using #holdfadtsb,” Machen wrote.

City Manager Jill Ingram approved the contract with Machen’s business MarketSnag in July to market the city. Her signature appears on the document provided on in response to a California Public Records Act request. In June, the City Council approved the creation of a marketing campaign with a limit of $30,000.

Johnson said that after the council approved the marketing project in June, the city reached out to three Seal Beach businesses to discuss the matter. He said two provided proposals. According to Johnson, staff made the recommendation that Ingram approve the agreement with MarketSnag.

The contract is for a maximum expense of $30,000, according to page 3 of the document. As of Sept. 13, Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos reported that the city had spent $5,000.

The Sun asked Treasurer/Finance Director Kelly Telford for the most recent figure in a Sept. 29 email. The Sun had not received a reply as of editorial deadline.

The city public records portal has notified the Sun that it needs more time to respond to requests for invoices related to the marketing campaign. “Government Code Section 6253(c) permits this extended period, however the City endeavors to provide all requests promptly,” according to the City Clerk’s Office.

District One Councilman Joe Kalmick said he didn’t know why the campaign had become a controversy.

Kalmick criticized the Sun’s recent headline about the campaign in the Sept. 24 edition, arguing that the headline created the impression that the city would definitely spend that amount.

Kalmick pointed out that when he had a framing business on Main Street, he frequently performed framing services for the city government without a contract.