Amsterdam hires new marketing firm for $141K


AMSTERDAM — After parting ways with its previous grant-funded marketing firm, the city has hired a new agency to develop a multimedia marketing campaign this year for $141,300.

The Common Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the 12-month agreement with Paperkite, a marketing firm based in Cooperstown.

The $141,300 fee will be covered through a portion of the $150,000 allocated for marketing from the city’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant and $135,000 Strategic Economic Development Program grant from National Grid.

The firm will initially work on developing the city’s “brand” for use in marketing materials to communicate Amsterdam’s identity, personality and values. The strategy will be crafted from discussions with city officials, research and a survey on community perception that will be distributed to residents.

Those details will be used to develop a pair of targeted campaigns geared towards attracting new residents and industry for distribution as digital ads over social media and the city’s redesigned website.

The city hired municipal web design firm CivicPlus in December for up to $32,000 from the available marketing funds to develop a new website to replace the existing forum, which has limited functionality and content hosting capabilities.

The city originally hired Black Dog Designs, located in Glens Falls, for $200,000 at the end of 2020 to both provide marketing services and redesign the website.

The city ultimately terminated that contract after the firm failed to deliver on project deadlines and objectives. The company was paid only for services rendered, which were described as “very minimal,” leaving the majority of the DRI marketing budget intact.

Deputy Mayor and 5th Ward Alderman James Martuscello questioned how the terms of the contract with Paperkite could ensure the city would not end up paying another marketing firm for unfinished work.

“We went through one marketing firm before and we ended up paying them $19,000,” Martuscello said. “I will vote for it. I just don’t want a recurrence of what happened before.”

Amanda Bearcroft, director of Amsterdam’s Community and Economic Development Department, noted that Corporation Counsel Anthony Casale is adding language to the contract before it is signed that will allow the city to terminate the agreement for lack of work or unsatisfactory results.

“We did have that in our last contract as well and that’s why we did terminate early with the last firm,” she said, adding that the city will receive some finished materials from the previous contractor.

City officials have confidence in the performance capabilities of new firms selected for the marketing projects.

The multimedia campaigns to be developed by Paperkite will feature testimonials from residents who relocated to the city and owners of thriving businesses.

The “lifestyle relocation” campaign will promote the quality-of-life, affordability and amenities available in and around the city. The “new industry” campaign will emphasize those same aspects, in addition to the easy accessibility of the area, program incentives, infrastructure and essential services required for starting and expanding businesses.

“We’re promoting that it’s a well-rounded community with great housing stock, job opportunities and it’s easy to start a business so we can start attracting all different areas of investment,” Bearcroft said.

The new website designed by CivicPlus is expected to launch in around six months and will feature some pages created using marketing materials developed by Paperkite, including a site selector section with materials and information that will aid prospective developers.

The new tool will make detailed information and forms more readily accessible to potential business owners and help streamline services through the Community and Economic Development Department, Bearcroft noted.

“The easier it is for developers to find information or the easier it is for business owners to get information, the faster and easier development can happen here,” Bearcroft said.

Paperkite will manage the distribution of the marketing materials, providing social media management during the contract. The firm will track the success of the campaigns through analytics to make any needed adjustments. The campaigns are expected to run from July through December.

All of the produced materials will be provided to the city for use at its discretion. At the end of the year the city could potentially extend the contract with Paperkite to produce additional materials or launch new campaigns with remaining funds from the marketing budget, said Gina DaBiere-Gibbs, Amsterdam’s community development and grants assistant.

Otherwise, the Community and Economic Development Department is expected to continue the developed marketing activities after the contract with Paperkite expires. Bearcroft is confident her department will be able to successfully carry on those tasks after the building blocks have been established by the marketing firm.

“Because we’re literally starting from the ground up we need assistance generating that material,” Bearcroft said. “Once we have the content and the templates it should be an easy swing.”

Mayor Michael Cinquanti said hiring a marketing firm to promote the city is vital to the goals of the DRI program to attract residents and businesses to the area to drive ongoing revitalization efforts.

“We are rebuilding our waterfront, we are rebuilding our downtown, we are adding new attractions downtown, we are rejuvenating our neighborhoods and we want a marketing firm to help us get that message out there,” Cinquanti said. “And hopefully attract businesses, attract visitors, attract the kinds of things that we need to continue growth.”

Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.

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