U.S. Cities and States Promote Tourism With Blogs

Posted on July 22, 2005

A USA Today article discusses travel blogs that are being used by the tourism offices in Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Pennsylvania. One of the blogs is Play in the City, a Milwaukee travel blog by Erin Leffelman, a 23-year-old UW-Milwaukee graduate with a degree in Journalism (pictured on right). USA Today describes the support Erin Leffelman receives from Milwaukee tourism office for doing the blog.
But while Leffelman's playinthecity.blogs.com doesn't mention it, the 23-year-old waitress and aspiring journalist is getting a little help from Milwaukee's tourism office: a year's worth of high-speed Internet access, $1,700 in computer and camera equipment and free access to many of the outdoor diversions she'll be describing in her twice-weekly musings.
The article also mentions two other states that are promoting local tourism with blogs: Pennsylvania and Minneapolis.
Last month, Pennsylvania's tourism site, visitpa.com, launched six blogs written by "real people" taking road trips across the state. Accompanied by digital photos and videos, the diaries cover such diverse pursuits as antique shopping, mountain biking and attending a NASCAR event. The authors - a family of four, a history buff, and a Harley-Davidson rider among them - receive $1,000 for each of three journeys they'll write about this summer.

Minneapolis' visitor and convention bureau, meanwhile, is soliciting applications for three culturally diverse "online tour guides" - a heterosexual couple, a family with children, and a gay male couple or group of gay male friends - who will post journal entries on the bureau's Web sites at least once a week for six months. The bloggers' payback: a "package of fun" that includes hotel rooms, event tickets and gift certificates.
While the blogs are technically "sponsored" as long as the bloggers appear to be honest and there is some level of disclosure it is probably a smart strategy. There should probably be a mention of the sponsorship somewhere on the blog. It is unlikely that mentioning the sponsorship would turn people away from Leffelman's blog. And most bloggers and aspiring journalists Leffelman's age are probably going to say it sounds like she got a pretty good deal. It is a sponsorship but it is a different kind of sponsorship then if she were being directly paid by a particular tourist attraction or a specific soft drink brand that she kept working into the blog without identifying them as an advertiser.