Pulaski Commissioners Voice Opposition to TV Ads, Draw Criticism from CDC Executive Director

Pulaski County Commissioners: Bud Krohn Jr., Jerry Locke, Kenny Becker

Pulaski County may not be returning to television to bring in tourists. The county commissioners appear to be ready to deny the Community Development Commission’s request to buy additional TV advertising.

During Monday’s commissioners meeting, Commissioner Kenny Becker said he believes CDC Executive Director Nathan Origer should focus his marketing efforts online. “If he wants to do something, I think he needs to make a web page,” Becker said. “I know he wants to put stuff on TV, but my thing is that most people don’t watch TV. They’re on the Internet at night or on their iPad looking at stuff. And I’ve talked to a lot of younger people, and you ask them if they’re going camping or something, where are they going to look? Well, the first place they’re going to look is on the Internet. They’re not going to watch TV and find out where they’re going to go camping.”

However, the county’s website already has a tourism-specific section, SimplyPulaski.org. In the end, the commissioners decided to hold off on making a decision until Origer’s next scheduled appearance before the board in a couple weeks.

But the commissioners’ decision to discuss the matter at all Monday is drawing sharp criticism from Origer. In a letter to the commissioners, Origer says he’s “baffled and troubled beyond comprehension” by the discussion.

Last month, Origer requested that the commissioners make a decision by their second February meeting. At the time, Origer said he’d let them know if he needed to move that decision up to this week’s meeting. In his letter, Origer says he made no such change.

However, the advertising request ended up being listed on this week’s meeting agenda, anyway, although Origer says he wasn’t given any notice the discussion would take place. That didn’t stop Commissioner Bud Krohn Jr. from commenting on Origer’s absence Monday. “I thought this was so important he had to know tonight, but he hasn’t shown up, so I don’t know,” Krohn said.

Krohn also questioned where exactly the money would come from and noted that he’s heard a lot of complaints about last year’s TV advertising campaign. The other commissioners and County Attorney Kevin Tankersley then tried to explain that a large marketing budget for the CDC had been approved by the county council and that this year’s advertising campaign would be different, with the commercial airing much more often.

In his letter, Origer also complains that he hasn’t had the chance to provide the commissioners with some of the information they requested, such as whether any business owners would be willing to chip in to help pay for the ads. On top of that, Origer says that the proposed deal with Comcast would include not only advertising on cable television, but also a significant online component. Origer says none of the commissioners have visited the CDC office to discuss the matter.