When the city of Fort Worth announced it would become the first city in the country to mine its own bitcoin, it garnered 586 million web impressions, according to data presented at the city’s entrepreneurship and innovation committee.

Mayor Mattie Parker spoke about the tech decision on Fox Business, and will speak at a tech conference in Austin in October called Reuters Momentum. 

The story received so much attention with the help of Quinn PR, a New York-based public relations agency, that the city is now contracting with the firm to promote economic development in the city. The bitcoin news spread like a wildfire, Mitch Whitten, chief operating officer at Visit Fort Worth, said during the June 14 entrepreneurship committee meeting.

“That was a great example of what PR can do,” Whitten said.

For years, Visit Fort Worth  has contracted with Quinn PR to attract visitors from across the country to Fort Worth. Now the city of Fort Worth is also using the firm and a Fort Worth advertising agency to attract business to the area. 

The city of Fort Worth is spending $10,000 a month for the PR firm until the end of the year, Andrea Duffie, communications specialist for the city’s economic development department, said. The Quinn PR partnership is an expansion of an existing contract that Visit Fort Worth has with the firm, she said. 

The effort is guided with help from the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and Fort Worth’s economic development department. 

According to the presentation at the entrepreneurship committee, some of the PR goals include:

  • One mayor or city leader profile per quarter
  • Two broadcast interviews per quarter
  • One influencer engagement per quarter 
  • Five features on each of the following topics: Bitcoin/tech, healthcare/life science, infrastructure developments, aerospace and defense, energy, movers and shakers and culture

Cities using advertising is common, Duffie said, but this is the first time Fort Worth has done so for economic development purposes.

“Cities, just like anything else – your car, soft drinks, even a business – are a product that you need to talk to people about and sell from time to time,” Duffie said.  

This comes as the city tries to compete against other cities in Texas to attract businesses in the area. Currently, Fort Worth lags behind other cities in the number of corporate relocations, economic development funds and investment for early-stage startups, according to past Fort Worth Report reporting.

Duffie also coordinates an advertising campaign with Fort Worth ad agency Schaefer Advertising on behalf of the department.

The advertising campaign has a budget of about $950,000 over three years, and is funded by the Fort Worth Local Development Corp., a nonprofit organization funded through the proceeds from the sale of various city-owned land, Duffie said. The campaign is focusing on audiences outside of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, highlighting local businesses doing innovative work. 

An example Duffie gave is Google’s drone subsidiary, Wing, which was tested at Alliance Airport before being launched in Frisco and Lockheed Martin’s F-35. The theme of the campaign is “where it begins.” 

An advertisement used in the city’s ad campaign to bring more businesses to Fort Worth.

The advertising campaign is focused on attracting the following industries: Mobility, aerospace and defense, energy, culture, life science, advanced manufacturing and corporate headquarters. 

Sara Hull, executive vice president of account strategy at Schaefer, said the target audience includes HR officers and individuals making decisions on either relocating or expanding their company into another location. Site selection consultants and corporate consultants also play a role, Hull said. 

“So a site selection consultant may serve as a broker to the organization and do some of the legwork in order to help them identify markets that have the best set of offerings to fulfill their particular business needs,” Hull said. 

Quinn PR has been useful in the larger picture of attracting tourism, Jessica Christopherson, Fort Worth film commissioner and vice president for marketing at Visit Fort Worth, said. Good public relations helps get more eyes on Fort Worth other than through advertising. For example, Travel + Leisure featured the city on its list of top places.

“If you pick up … your favorite magazine, and you see a story about a city, you know it piques interest versus like an ad,” Christopherson said. 

The contract with Quinn PR is through the end of this year, Duffie said. Visit Fort Worth will provide quarterly results.

Since the bitcoin announcement PR campaign, economic development director Robert Sturns said during the committee meeting that he has fielded a number of calls, emails and LinkedIn requests from companies in the cryptocurrency industry, wanting to learn about what is going on in Fort Worth. One company, he said, was considering moving their headquarters to Fort Worth. 

“The biggest challenge for us … it’s an interesting industry and you kind of have to see who the actual real deals are versus what I would call some more speculative types of inquiries that we’ve gotten,” Sturns said. “But I think from the standpoint of what we wanted to accomplish, which is showing that Fort Worth is an innovative city and looking at innovative opportunities, I think it accomplished what it was meant to do.” 

Editor’s note: Mitch Whitten is a member of Fort Worth Report’s board of directors. 

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here

Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at seth.bodine@fortworthreport.org and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.

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Seth Bodine

Seth Bodine is the business reporter for the Fort Worth Report. He previously covered agriculture and rural issues in Oklahoma for the public radio station, KOSU, as a Report for America corps member....