Consultants for the city of Pacifica have recommended a series of steps aimed at better marketing the city to visitors.

A consultant, Creative Digital Agency, presented a report at a joint study session between the Economic Development Committee and City Council on Dec. 13.

City Council and the EDC accepted a list of 14 potential opportunities for developing marketing and will contract with a consultant early next year to develop a two-year strategic marketing implementation plan and marketing campaign.

CDA conducted business research, interviewed local business owners, prepared a marketing gap assessment, identified potential new strategies for generating sales, and drafted a marketing campaign and communications proposal, said Yulia Carter, chief financial sustainability officer.

CDA interviewed key stakeholders for insight and reviewed materials about tourism activities, Carter said.

Those findings are that Pacifica is visited by day trippers from throughout the Bay Area. Pacifica has many attractions that are desirable, and people from outside the area visit Pacifica after web searches, Carter said.

Travel site reviews are positive. Pacifica has a great sense of community and residents support local shopping, but the city lacks some of the shopping options they desire, Carter said. Obstacles to attracting new businesses include high rents, lack of availability, lack of foot traffic, and lack of a downtown area, Carter said.

Pacifica’s branding presents a cool place with mermaid iconography, Carter said. Social media is an underserved media channel for the city, she said.

The 14 opportunities for marketing Pacifica include encouraging “workcations,” potentially hosting conferences, establishing unique shopping neighborhoods and building a web presence, Carter said.

Staff has already been working on a Shop Pacifica e-Gift card program, one of the opportunities mentioned.

The analytics part of the plan calls for staff to work with a consultant for sales tax, property tax, business license and transient occupancy tax analysis and collections, seeking several improvements in this area, Carter said.

“It will take a long time to implement all 14. What are you most interested in? The next step will be to develop this marketing plan and in what order,” Carter said.

EDC member Beth Lemke said the EDC should be an advisory committee and was concerned the marketing plan would not come to fruition. She listed her priorities.

“Events and activities, pop-up markets, city-wide gift cards. Unique neighborhoods need to do activities that are eye-catching. In Rockaway we have issues with signage. The banners along Palmetto need to be replaced,” Lemke said.

Another EDC member, Greta Sieglock, said the most important things for her are improving the city’s web presence, expanding social media and a Shop Local campaign. Long-term goals would be contacting new businesses.

EDC member Debi Hirshlag said that better communication should be done to attract millennials to visit Pacifica. She hoped people could be enticed to come to Pacifica to hold their meetings. Unique neighborhoods need to be part of a larger planning discussion, she said.

EDC member Robert Foster said, “I think social media and events are a great way to pull people in.”

Councilmember Mike O’Neill suggested reaching out to the San Mateo County Convention Bureau and to build up Pacifica’s social media presence. “We need to have events. I agree with getting sports teams to stay here longer. The business districts could have some sort of special promotion,” he said.

City Manager Kevin Woodhouse asked if there were ballot measures the group wanted to consider? No City Council member answered in the affirmative.

Councilmember Sue Vaterlaus said more needs to be done to move forward.

“These are some good ideas to get Pacifica on the map. People want to come here,” she said. 

Jane Northrop has covered Pacifica for the Pacifica Tribune since 1996. She has won first place John Swett Awards from the California Teachers Association for her coverage of education.

(1) comment

DEBORAH WONG

Since we travel to other cities throughout the country, I often try to look at Pacifica through a tourist's eyes. What do they see? When we first moved back to Pacifica, we noticed the outdated banners on palmetto right away. It may seem like a minor issue, but the impression can make a difference, especially in a part of town that had so much improvement 2 years ago, and where merchants have worked hard to improve their signage, etc.. Understandably, the pandemic has made a huge impact. What would it cost to replace the banners? Several still announce an Easter Egg Hunt for 2020 that never happened, and other banners are shredded. The Beautification Committee in Half Moon Bay regularly replaces seasonal banners and flowers on its Main street, letting tourists know that folks in HMB care about their town. O.k., so Palmetto is not "Main Street", and Pacifica is not Half Moon Bay......I still appreciate Beth Lemke's comment about replacing the banners on Palmetto.

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