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Henderson to team up with agency that revamped Reno’s image

Updated December 5, 2017 - 6:48 pm

The Henderson City Council will vote Tuesday on a contract that could pay nearly $2 million to the marketing agency that gave Reno a glistening “Next Silicon Valley” image.

With the four-year agreement with the Reno-based Abbi Agency, city officials hope to attract industries and highlight the city’s positive qualities.

“In Reno, the Abbi Agency was part of the team that helped to change the conversation around the city and its offerings and that is what they will bring to this economic development campaign,” Henderson spokesman David Cherry said in an email. “They have also worked on tourism issues, which remain a key area of focus for the city, and they bring a high level of creativity and enthusiasm coupled with a strategic approach when it comes to creating marketing campaigns that are designed to deliver results.”

The City Council is expected to approve the agreement with the Abbi Agency, which beat out nine other firms. Abbi Whitaker, co-founder and president of the agency, called the partnership a great match, due to the agency’s “innovative approach.”

“The Abbi Agency has created multiple mirco-campaigns for destinations in the past and believes that this approach will be important in meeting the goals of the city,” Whitaker said in an email.

Whitaker added that she will work with city staff, elected officials and the community to research what differentiates Henderson from other cities, specifically regional competitors like Southern California, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Denver, Cherry said.

The contract expires Dec. 31, 2021, although the city can extend it up to four years.

“We see our job as working with the city and community members to not change what Henderson is, but dive deep and determine the attributes and messages that meet target audiences and companies,” Whitaker said.

The Abbi Agency has worked with tourism agencies and governments in Nevada and California, including Explore Butte County, Tour Murrieta, North Lake Tahoe, the city of Fallon, Nevada Department of Education and the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

The city of Reno, the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, the University of Nevada, Reno and the Regional Transportation Commission combined to pay $110,000 to the Abbi Agency, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported in July.

The firm helped generate positive national press coverage about the city once labeled a “tired casino town.” Since Abbi was hired 2015, articles in 26 national news outlets — from the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News and the Huffington Post — were published about the growth of technology-based industries in the Reno-Sparks area as well as its lifestyle and cultural opportunites, the Gazette-Journal reported.

“Reports written by respected journalists carry more credibility than paid advertising,” according to the co-op statement.

The news coverage was equivalent to more than $5 million in paid advertising, the paper reported.

Henderson’s planned partnership with the Abbi Agency comes on the heels of its firing of a marketing information officer, public relations coordinator and public information officer to reduce costs, Cherry said. Those positions cost the city at least $333,000 in combined annual salary.

The city has a public affairs department of 29 people, but Cherry said most of the employees have no role in marketing.

Contact Sandy Lopez at slopez@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4686. Follow @JournalismSandy on Twitter.

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