Friday, during a special workshop the TDC’s Interactive Committee, Marty McDaniel and Buddy Wilkes, whittled the 6 companies that submitted Requests for Qualifications (RFQ) down to their top three.
The six companies that submitted RFQ’s are as follows:
- Simple View Inc.
- Jennifer Barbee Inc.
- Miles Media
- Cyber Sytes
- The 543 Group
Susan Estler, VP of Marketing for the CVB recommended Simple View, Jennifer Barbee, and Miles Media as the top three that had the capability and capacity to handle the interactive needs of Panama City Beach.
According to Ms. Estler, Simple View had excellent references. All of their existing clients were extremely satisfied with their performance, and to date, Simple View has yet to lose a client. Their client list spans from Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Scottsdale, Park City, and tons more. One of the more important issues discussed was the database that will be amassed with this new interactive initiative, and Simple View assured us that the database that is created using our initiatives will, indeed, be ours (well, the CVB’s). This is a huge issue with our current agency, Miles Media, which we’ll discuss in a moment.
Second on Ms. Estler’s recommendation list was Jennifer Barbee, Inc. Jennifer Barbee is a newly formed interactive marketing agency that comes from very well developed roots. Jennifer’s position was secured in this list because of her background with USDM, who is considered somewhat the industry standard in interactive marketing. The database issue is not existent as the data amassed will belong to the CVB. As an added bonus, Barbee uses the same database system as the CVB, further easing the movement of data from the agency to the CVB. Her experience and work portfolio is in line with what the CVB is looking for, in fact, so much so, that the only reason she is in second is because of her company being in its infancy.
The third on the list was Miles Media. Miles Media is the current interactive agency holding the reigns of the CVB web site, VisitPanamaCityBeach.com, and there are several issues with this relationship, with the major issue being who controls the database. Marty McDaniel and Buddy Wilkes both agreed that in the past, Miles Media has been very uncooperative in sharing the database that the Panama City Beach CVB marketing efforts has generated. That is to say, they will not let us have the database that, essentially, we paid for through our marketing efforts that they deployed. Miles Media’s excuse is that all of the user data that all of their campaigns generates is shared with the Visit Florida database and that once it enters that database, it belongs to that “domain”, and can’t be given out to individual clients. I would agree, that the Panama City Beach CVB should not be given access to a database that includes data from campaigns or efforts that are other than their own, however (and this is a big however), there is no reason why Miles Media can’t distinguish the difference between “our” data and the data of someone else’s marketing efforts. Further more, if they are submitting the data to some “master” database, then there is no reason that they can’t duplicate “our” data so as to keep it segregated. If they can’t, I would submit that that is their problem, not ours, and they just need to figure it out. As the contact database administrator of over 750,000 contacts, I can assure you that if I told the principles of my company that I can’t distinguish the difference between different databases within the database, I would have been fired a long time ago.
There are nifty things called computers and programs that allow people to do cool things like organize data however you want, need, or desire to based on whatever you want.
As indicated by the committee members, the database issue in the past with Miles Media has been unsolvable. The committee felt that moving forward, Miles Media would continue to be unwilling to change their approach on this issue. The committee members decided that it would be prudent to ask the question up front whether Miles Media would be willing to share with the Panama City Beach CVB the database their marketing efforts generate, and if the answer was still no, they would be moved to position 4, and have virtually no chance on continuing to be the interactive agency of record. At this point, Cyber Sytes would replace Miles Media in position and move to position three.
You don’t have to be told that it was decided that Cyber Sytes would be in position four. It was agreed upon by all present that Cyber Sytes has a very talented team and in the last two years, they have made very positive movement by way of bringing on talented graphics arts staff and have grown professionally and artistically. They have become virtually THE web design firm in Bay County, and have been recognized for this. However, the committee agreed, they just didn’t think Cyber Sytes was “ready” for the CVB.
The process moving forward will include a special meeting to be called sometime in between next Wednesday’s meeting (agenda forthcoming) and the next scheduled meeting to hear presentations from the top two agency picks, Simple View, Inc., and Jennifer Barbee, Inc.
I will, of course, be covering these meetings, so stay tuned.