COMMENTS TO THE BENSON CITY COUNCIL May 14, 2012
As you all know, Iím Paul Lotsof and Iím the manager of CAVE 97-7 FM which is
Bensonís radio station. The CAVE Eyesore is located at 156 West Fifth Street.
Over the past few months, Councilmen Sacco and Brooks have mentioned the City of
Bensonís advertising and I think that at budget time it would be appropriate to
take a look at the money the city spends on advertising. With that in mind, Iíll
ask a rhetorical question: How much money would you guess the City of Benson has
spent on advertising over the past twelve months? To find out the answer to that
question I took Mr. Coxís bi-monthly reports for council meetings held between
April 15 of last year and April 15 of this year. I added up all the expenditures
that I knew to be for advertising and came up with the figure of $38,031.75
Here Iíd like to point out that the actual dollar figure on advertising could be
considerably more than $38,000 because Iím not including the cost of direct
mailings or the possibility that some specialty items such as logos or hats
might contain advertising. Moreover, Mr. Cox often uses abbreviations that
arenít commonly recognized. For example, the city buys a lot of FSA from a
company called TASC. Iím guessing thatís not advertising. Be that as it may, it
is my belief that the Benson City Government is by far the biggest spender of
advertising dollars in this area and no commercial business comes close.
Obvious questions: Who are the lucky recipients of all this money and is that
money being spent with any degree of efficiency or effectiveness?
Bensonís advertising can be divided into three categories: The first is legal
advertising along with advertising designed to make the public aware of services
that the city provides plus some public relations. Second comes tourism
advertising and third is advertising for the golf course.
Who gets the cityís advertising dollars? By far, the biggest single recipient is
the local newspaper which received just over $11,000 and that doesnít include
payments to other Wick publications. It is important to understand that due to
an antiquated state law that dates back to 1928, the city is required to place
certain types of advertising in a newspaper that is published and printed in the
community. Since no newspaper is printed in Benson you might be able to use a
different newspaper with lower rates but politically that wouldnít fly so youíre
stuck with the News-Sun and its rates which are anything but a bargain when you
consider that this newspaper has one of the tiniest circulations of any paper in
the state. You should realize that the city spends vastly more with the News-Sun
than what the law requires. You also need to understand that nowadays a lot of
the paperís readers use its web site rather than paying the fifty cents plus tax
for the print version. The cityís advertising rarely appears in the paperís
internet version and when it does appear it is hard to find. Thus, your
advertising misses a large percentage of the newspaperís readership. And you
wonder why it is that when you advertise for vacancies on boards and commissions
you hardly get any response. To a person who understands advertising, thereís
nothing to wonder about. Youíre paying top dollar for very little. An obvious
question is why is it that all advertising designed to reach the local residents
must be placed in this newspaper? In some cases you pay so much to the newspaper
that it would be cheaper and far more effective to send the advertisements by
mail to every household in Benson.
Okay, what sort of bargains are we getting on our tourism advertising? Tourismís
total is $18,393. The number one recipient of tourism advertising dollars is a
company near San Diego called Certified Folder Display which has received an
incredible $6,300 over the past year. Then comes a magazine called RV Journal
which got $4,800 followed by Go Travel Sites with $1895.. Who made the decision
to spend $6,300 on Certified Folder Display and what evidence is there that the
city is getting $6,300 worth of additional business as a result of that
expenditure? Ditto the $4,800 that weíre handing to RV Journal and other
thousands going to various obscure media companies.
Lastly, comes the advertising for the golf course, totaling $7,266.. Most of the
advertising dollars spent for the golf course go to a Tucson advertising agency
called Ackerley. Ackerley got $4,800 but hardly anyone knows what Ackerley does
with all that money. Of the two dozen advertising agencies in Tucson how was
Ackerley selected and where does that $4,800 go? Why is handing $4,800 to an
advertising agency different from giving a lump sum to the Chamber of Commerce
to do with in any way they see fit? I think that the public deserves some
accountability including some evidence that the money given to Ackerley is
bringing at least $4,800 in golfing dollars into Benson.
For 29 years Benson has had a very popular radio station. Our 6,000 watt signal
reaches listeners in Sierra Vista, Hereford, Tombstone and we even get calls
from Green Valley. We reach traffic on the Interstate, Highways 80 and 90 and we
have a very popular morning program hosted by Benson native Joaquin Haro. A
radio ratings company estimates that we reach up to 10,000 people in a week,
several times the circulation of the News-Sun and weíre not limited to one
exposure per week. Whatís the radio stationís share of the $38,000 ? The answer
is a big goose egg. Why? Most of our commercials cost $2.50 each. Is that too
much? Also consider the fact that our local employees are the number one cost of
operating a radio station. That means that a significant percentage of money
spent at CAVE-FM would be re-spent in Benson, quite a contrast from all the
money you spend out of town.
In conclusion Iíd like to point out that advertising is a very competitive
business. Why not take advantage of all the competition? What is the point of
thwarting the free enterprise system by having no bidding process? Thereís a
steep price to be paid when certain vendors are arbitrarily selected and their
competitors are shut out. The City Council is the guardian of the public trust
and I think you could do a lot better by instituting polices that lead to
competition, efficiency and results from your ad dollars. Thatís not what you
have in place now. Thank you for your consideration.
Some other significant
$375 to an educational FM station in Tucson to plug the bluegrass festival. The
station canít legally broadcast commercials.
$1,996.25 to the News-Sun to promote the restaurant at the golf course. (Theyíd
have to sell a lot of additional meals for that to pay off.)
$1,162.35 to the News-Sun to tell the public whatís in the water supply besides
$886.33 to the News-Sun to advise the public about medical marijuana.
$1,405 to advertise in Wick Newspapers travel guides.
$92.26 to the News-Sun for ads in a sports calendars. Good for the newspaper but
how do the students benefit?
$343.38 to the News-Sun to be included in a business directory.
The city canít seem to say no to the newspaperís sales person. Whatever they ask
for they get. The taxpayers of Benson pay.