Woodstock plans to spread the word about Festival 50th

(Photo by Mark Goff)

The first Woodstock Chamber of Commerce & Arts first presentation on plans for this anniversary summer’s joint marketing strategies in early December drew approximately 75 people and resulted in a consensus okay for the locally based marketing firm EchoSixty6 to head efforts for spreading the word about all that will be happening as the rest of the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Woodstock Festival.

A second gathering this past Friday, December 21, at the Woodstock School of Art, drew about 50 and grew clearer about how EchoSixty6 would be marketing the town and its businesses as the chamber’s Woodstock Celebrates unfolds over the coming months.

What isn’t yet clear are the specific events to be marketed, which everyone is saying are secondary to the planned marketing of what Woodstock is as a town, as well as an ideal for a town.

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“The way we look at this is that it’s not going to be just another summer in Woodstock, it won’t be business as usual,” said Philip Mandelbaum, director of marketing and public relations at EchoSixty6. “We really believe this is an opportunity for the town to exponentially extend its reach, drawing on all that’s happened here then and now.”

Mandelbaum, who got to know the Hudson Valley as a Vassar College student, then saw many friends and family move up into the Woodstock area, explained how he joined Terry Dagrosa’s marketing firm after he “married a local girl,” had two kids (now attending the Woodstock Day School), and decided he was sick of commuting for work.

“Terry had a weekend home here for years and started EchoSixty6 when she, too, tired of heading back and forth each week,” he explained.

As for the current project for the Chamber, Mandelbaum called it a “project of passion” where he and Dagrosa would be lucky to eventually break even. They were already laying out costs, and looking to pull in about $10,000 by the time everything draws to a close. He inferred the big prizes were new clients for EchoSixty6, plus a rising of all boats in the Woodstock business and arts organization worlds.

“The purpose of this timely seven-month campaign is to celebrate Woodstock and all it has to offer, by unifying the Woodstock community; connecting the town’s past and present; further cementing Woodstock as an international destination for the arts, music, food and culture; expanding tourism to town; and helping local businesses increase brand awareness, foot traffic, sales and revenue,” Echo Sixty6 noted last week in an emailed update on the campaign plans for the coming year. “The strategy is to leverage the 2019 anniversaries of the Woodstock Music Festival, the Woodstock Film Festival, the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum (WAAM), and the CPW Artists in Residence program.”

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o achieve their plans, Mandelbaum said there would be an interview process with local business owners, artists and arts administrators, and others around town so “we can tell the story about what inspired the Woodstock Festival.” There would be one-on-one outreach to ensure that everyone participates, either directly through eight subcommittees that have been set up (ranging from real estate to restaurants, Mandelbaum said), cross-promotional efforts using everyone’s social media accounts, and the creation of a Woodstock Celebrates website and directory of businesses, arts organizations, and events.

“I think we’re already really close,” Mandelbaum said of the efforts he and Dagrosa are pushing forward. “We’re getting very granular in how we, say, speak with a clothing store about what they can do to increase traffic this summer, and are setting up 180 plus interviews.”

Efforts to list specific events, though, have resulted in more marketing language that acknowledges “big events, concerts, art installations” while noting, repeatedly, that “this campaign is larger than any singular events. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Mandelbaum that while the website will be going live for Chamber participants in the coming week, it wouldn’t be available to the public until April or May, by which time a “master calendar” can be built in addition to the “how-to guides, interviews and other materials” for Chamber members.

“We’re working to amplify what’s already in the works,” Mandelbaum concluded. “We want to expand foot traffic in town next year. We want to expand our tourism potential.”++

Paul Smart

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