Reaching the masses

Visit Bucks County grants $240,000 to 31 Bucks County nonprofits including Bristol Riverside Theatre

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Caring for the community: The 31 recipients of Visit Bucks County’s Fall 2017 Tourism Grant gathered around a check for $240,000, the total amount awarded to the local nonprofits. Source: Visit Bucks County

The marketing folks at Bristol Riverside Theatre are about to have a jam-packed 2018 thanks to Visit Bucks County. The tourism promotion agency recently announced that BRT, along with 30 other local nonprofits, were the proud recipients of VBC’s Fall 2017 Tourism Grant. In total, a whopping $240,000 was awarded, $15,000 of which went to BRT to be used for digital advertising and attracting theater-goers from Bucks County and beyond.

The grant program was created nine years ago with the sole mission of developing and enhancing the work of nonprofits as it relates to tourism in Bucks County. Since 2008, VBC has awarded more than $3,486,500. Over the years, nonprofits have used the funding for new museum exhibits, increased signage, restorations and educational expansions amongst various other enhancements.

This year, Bristol Riverside Theatre will be dedicating the bulk of its $15,000 in grant money to digital advertising. The goal is to promote its productions to not only locals, but potential tourists.

According to Rayna Adams, marketing director at BRT, most people in Bristol and Bucks County are familiar with the theater. But with its upcoming year of high-quality shows such as The Producers, she wanted people from surrounding areas to see what BRT is all about. The only question was how to reach them.

The answer came after Adams attended a meeting through the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts where she learned how digital advertising is on the rise. She also discovered that the average person checks Facebook multiple times per day. Adams knew she had to use this newfound knowledge to BRT’s advantage and step up its digital game. But first she needed funding.

So, in the theater’s grant proposal to VBC, emphasis was placed on how it would use the money to implement creative online advertising to expand its reach. This would attract a higher number of tourists to BRT, but also its surrounding businesses. Visitors could stop at a local restaurant for a pre-show meal, check out a shop or two and book a room at a nearby hotel.

BRT’s proposal aligned perfectly with VBC’s current initiative of making Bucks County the next great tourist spot and last month, the theater was informed of its award.

Adams provided a breakdown of how the money will be spent. To promote the upcoming production of The Producers, there will be a five-week ad campaign. She explained how cookies will follow online users throughout the web universe to keep retargeting them. Through geotargeting, specific areas will see the ads, including Dover, Delaware, and Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Adams has found this tactic to have a good return on investment.

“It’s a great way to reach people outside of Bucks County,” she said.

On the public radio stations WHYY and WRTI, BRT will invest in radio advertising to attract listeners in Philadelphia, Cape May and Montgomery, Chester, Burlington and Mercer counties. There will also be a direct mail campaign with 29,000 postcards sent. Fifty percent of the postcards will be delivered to addresses outside of Bucks County. According to Adams, snail mail still results in ticket purchases.

“It’s not dead,” Adams said.

Though BRT is focused on attracting visitors to the borough, it’s also making strategic plans for when they actually arrive. To correlate with The Producers, local restaurants and bars will serve speciality meals and drinks such as the “Max Martini.”

“It’s tying the town to the show,” Adams said.

In the spring, visitors will be able to enjoy a scenic garden and statue tour of Bristol to go along with its production of Triumph of Love. Maps will be distributed to various local businesses, allowing guests to take a stroll and experience the beauty of the borough.

“This is all done using money from the grant,” Adams said. “We couldn’t do it without it.”

The other Tourism Grant recipients are as follows: Acting Naturally, Artist of Yardley, Bucks County Civil War Round Table, Bristol Borough Raising the Bar, Bucks County Wine Trail, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, Bucks Beautiful, Bucks County Audubon Society, Bucks County Children’s Museum, Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce, Delaware River Towns, Doylestown Historical Society, Friends of the Delaware Canal, Friends of Washington Crossing Park-Mill, Friends of Washington Crossing Park, Heritage Conservancy, Historical Fallsington, Historical Society of Hilltown Township, James. A. Michener Art Museum, Lenape Chamber Ensemble, Mercer Museum, New Hope Celebrates, Newtown Arts Company, Newtown Hall Theatre, Newtown Historic Association, Pearl S. Buck International, Pennsbury Society, Perkasie Olde Towne, Quakertown Alive! and Richland Library Company.

For more information on Visit Bucks County, go to VisitBucksCounty.com. For more on Bristol Riverside Theatre, visit brtstage.org. ••

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com