Weekly Alibi – Os David invades Roswell

Thanks to Kelms2 for sending this in:
Roswell, NM was featured in a three page, five article feature intitled
“Os Davis Invades Roswell” in Weekly Alibi(Albuquerque, NM) for the week of July 13 – 19, 2000. The web address of the Weekly Alibi is Alibi.com. The
lead article (The Selling of Roswell: Keeping the Phenomenon Fresh ) is on
how Roswell, NM sales itself to the rest of the world(The Tv show Roswell is mention twice in the article). You can read all five articles online now.

Fanforum SN: richardken1

The Selling of Roswell
Keeping the phenomenon fresh by Os Davis

So there you are in Atlantic City, representing an obscure New Mexican
town
of some 50,000 residents. Hordes of travel writers from the Americas, from
European nations as small as Estonia, from far-flung locales like Singapore,

see your hamlet as mystery mecca. You find yourself one of the most
interviewed people at the con vention, a weird aura preceding you.
Journalists and Joisey residents alike have a single question for you,
hanging on the answer.
It happens if the town you represent is Roswell, a burg with a worldwide
reputation out of proportion to its population. The question, natch, is
“what
really happened there in 1947?”
Tom Garrity, a center of attention at the annual International Travel
Writers’ Convention in Atlantic City last month, doesn’t know the answer; he

sure loves being asked, though. Garrity is director of The Garrity Group, a
public relations firm recently handed what he terms a “great opportunity”:
the opportunity to publicize Roswell, “a town more people have heard about
than almost anywhere in the Southwest” The Garrity Group began the project
with a budget of $110,000–an amount too small to build a campaign based
merely on traditional advertising, thus necessitating a different strategy.
That amount of money, says Garrity, “will get you a couple ofads. We’d
rather
shape a message that’s more credible and at the same time will get more
results.”
The result is thus not so much an advertising campaign as an “awareness
campaign” with the goal to increase awareness about Roswell through mass
media channels. Roswell Mayor Bill Owen heartily endorses Garrity’s appeal
to
the world of journalism: “The press carries a big stick,” he says. “They’ve
got more ink in their rollers than we’ve got. When you can get them talking
about us and working with us, it gets lots of people’s attention. We want to

promote Roswell in as many ways as possible.” Luckily, with current hype at
a
peak, Garrity says that “Roswell is selling itself right now.”
That peak is the potential problem facing Roswell’s tourism industry an
industry that, Owen explains, “for all practical purposes, didn’t exist in
Roswell 15 years ago.” It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when this town
attained its current pop cultural name-dropping status-some cite the 1993
episode of “Unsolved Mysteries” that led to a senate inquiry or The
Incident’s key function in the plotline of i996 box office smash
Independence
Day. Since the 50th anniversary has come and gone, however, an obvious
conclusion would be that Roswell’s fame is ultimately as fleeting as that of

many once-cherished icons. “Roswell” televison program or no, might not the
town’s 15 minutes be up?
This is precisely what makes Garrity ideal for Roswell. Julie Hewes,
Public
Relations Officer for the city of Roswell, says, “I think the thing Garrity
Group has brought to the campaign is continuity. You had such an influx of
people and enthusiasm in 1997 with the 50th anniversary; the entire
community
was involved. What Garrity Group did was bring all those people to the
table
and keep everyone together.” And Garrity feels that if he can keep this
nucleus of Roswellians together, promotional opportunity should last much
longer. “Lots of places in the U.S. wish they had the kind of talk appeal
of
Roswell,” he says. For example, how many towns of Roswellian size have even
had a TV program named after them? (Truth or Consequences doesn’t count-the
game show came first.) Garrity feels confident in Roswell’s small-town charm

and convenient location in a region rife with tourist draws. The early PR
hurdle of recognizability thus passed, the next barrier for Carrity and
company to deal with is a question that could dog the town as persistently
as
the one about UFOs and ETs: “Once we get past the Roswell incident, what is
there to talk about?” Owen, too, realizes his town’s uniqueness makes for a
stumbling block: “There’s not another city that we know of that we can use
as
a model. Every year we’re looking at new ways to present Roswell to the
world.”
Garrity was able to test his ideas fiar Roswell’s image circa 2000 while
at
this year’s All-American City Competition in Louisville, Ky., in May. As one

of 30 finalists, Roswell was represented with a display featuring-what
else?-the ubiquitous humanoid aliens with hollow eyes and over sized
cranium.
Onlookers gaped at this arresting exhibit plunked in the midst of
old-fashioned Americana. “It’s not about aliens,” insists Garrity, “but we
use the aliens as a hook.” Most Louisville visitors swallowed the bait:
After
an initial reaction akin to “Aliens, huh?” Garrity and company were able to
deftly expand the picture of Roswell to include tales of historical
relevance, the New Mexico Military Institute, and state parks. The PR firm
was also in a unique position to promote outlying areas in southeastern New
Mexico, as The Garrity Group was also awarded the account for so-called
“Region No.3,” an area comprising eight counties from Otero to Lincoln, by
the state tourism division.
The All-American City Competition in Lousville, Ky., coindded nicely with
an exhibit running at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Entitled
“Roswell and the Alien Invasion II,” the familiar alien figure drew crowds
usually reserved ler feature exhibits. Called one of the Space Center’s
“most
popular displays ever,” NASA organizers brought the $30,000 display to
Roswell to stand as part of the town’s recent week-long “Trek Roswell 2000”
festivities. As west Texas is one of Garrity Group’s focus market, the
popularity of the exhibit provides a positive boost to Garrity’s strategy.
When asked what would indicate the success of Garrity’s campaign, Owen
says, “I’d like to see more conversations like this take place.” Garrity
echoes the sentiments almost to the letter. He likes simply “that people are

talking about Roswell.” Though too early to tell, Garrity is extremely
confident that the town’s continued success is inevitable: “The results
[Garrity Group campaigns] have had in southeast New Mexico lead us to
believe
that Roswell will be successful.”
An incident that showed Garrity immediate results in a business where
results are often untraceable proved to be telling indeed. Having problems
returning a rental car while attempting to depart Atlantic City, Garrity met

with the acerbic attitude of a New Yorker who’d attended the conference.
Impa
tiently waiting for Garrity’s problem to be solved, she complained, “Ah, you

Roswell people. That’s all I’m hearing about is Roswell this and Roswell
that.” Garrity, despite himself, was pleased.

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