The Customer Visit Bentonville is the advertising and promotional arm for the City of Bentonville. Its mission is to contribute to the municipality’s economic development by attracting new people to patronize its businesses, stay in its hotels, enjoy its restaurants and explore its many diverse attractions.

“What if you created a town today? What would it look like? What would be important? Who would live there? Who would want to visit?” These are all questions asked by the voice-over in a video that shows glimpses of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the scenic Eleven restaurant and lush trails traversed by countless cyclists. The overall answer is offered by Visit Bentonville, which produced the video and is striving to help more travelers appreciate a town that describes itself as having “a big heart and even bigger ambition.” Cision is helping Visit Bentonville realize its vision with Cision Communications Cloud®.


The Challenge

Visit Bentonville is like many similar organizations trying to encourage tourism -- with one notable difference. Besides all of its other features and amenities, the area is also home to the global corporate headquarters of Walmart, one of the largest and best-known retailers in North America. “It’s a major corporation, and the number of things happening on a day to day basis from Walmart never stops,” explains Missy Penor, Director of Communications at Visit Bentonville. “A lot of travelers who may come here are not necessary tourists, they’re here on business. If they have the right information, though, they will also partake in what the community has to offer.” Penor and her digital director, who handles social media, therefore need to be particularly adept at identifying compelling reasons to experience Bentonville, whether visitors are looking for their next holiday or something to do after meetings on a more professional excursion.

The Solution

For years, Visit Bentonville has been using Cision Comms Cloud, a platform that provides data-driven recommendations of key media outlets, influencers, and management of PR campaigns across a wide range of channels. Cision Comms cloud also integrates directly with major third-party platforms such as Google Analytics, Adobe Omniture and more.

The Results

Thanks to using Cision Comms Cloud, Visit Bentonville is getting by a wide range of media coverage, including Forbes, Outside magazine and many other publications. Some of the highlights include: Outreach Based on Specific Subject Matter: Some of the most common areas Visit Bentonville focuses on to attract tourists include the arts, biking, music and the culinary scene. While some mainstream news outlets could touch on all of those subjects, there are also a host of more targeted and niche-oriented publications with specific audiences Penor and her team need to find. Cision offers deep insight into the best contacts to pitch this kind of coverage. “It’s great. I really like how easy it is to create specific designated lists in the media world space, whether we’re looking regionally or from a national standpoint,” she says, adding that the system makes it straightforward to promote a bike race or a culinary event, for instance. “It’s so nice to one-click your way through a list of outlets.” ROI Reporting for Senior Leadership: Penor needs to regularly brief commissioners and other stakeholders about how she and her team spend their ad dollars and other budgetary resources. “What’s important to me is to get a good economic counter of what the articles are worth to us based on how much I’m pushing information out,” she says. Social Media Boosts: The Visit Bentonville team doesn’t merely rely on coverage in a particular outlet to do all the work. Instead, the team looks regularly at what has been written about the area in Cision and increases its visibility by offering highlights of stories in social media posts. “It’s like a sort of bragging board that we can share with other organizations and entities,” Penor says. “If it was about the food scene here, for example, we tag some of our restaurants. It’s just more help for them to get the good word out.”

Next Steps

Besides looking at day-to-day coverage opportunities, Visit Bentonville is continuing to grow in areas like sports marketing by becoming recognized as an ideal place for mountain biking events, baseball tournaments, swimming tournaments and more. Given how firmly entrenched it is in the communications process, Penor says she can’t imagine life without Cision Comms Cloud. “Cision helps me do my job from a PR standpoint and getting information out,” she says. “As I use it more and have connections with each news or media outlet, Cision gives me the opportunity to introduce myself to more people, and in a more specific way.”