Marietta Visitors Bureau’s next director needs media relations moxie
by Dick Yarbrough
July 12, 2013 10:22 PM | 2197 views | 7 7 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dick Yarbrough
Dick Yarbrough
Perhaps you read in the MDJ this week that the Marietta Visitors Bureau is in the market for a new director with the retirement of Theresa Jenkins, who stepped down on June 28 after 29 years at the helm.

In selecting a successor, I would urge the bureau’s board to look for someone with some media relations moxie. As of this writing, I have never had a single contact initiated by the MVB, even though I am an enthusiastic supporter of the annual Art Walk and have been honored to be a participant in that event. I have also been known to lob an occasional unvarnished opinion or two on these pages.

Had I the responsibility for the MVB’s public relations, I would have put me high on their list for news releases. (Assuming they do news releases.)

One of the highlights of my checkered past was to have my paintings exhibited at the Earl Smith Strand Theatre a couple of years ago during the Art Walk. I felt like the real deal, even though one reader in attendance at the exhibit pointed out that I look much older in person than the photograph that accompanies this column.

I’ll bet Picasso didn’t have to put up with that kind of abuse. Of course, Picasso wasn’t a modest and much-beloved columnist, either.

All I know about the Art Walk, the Christmas Walk, the Taste of Marietta and other activities emanating from the Marietta Visitors Bureau has come from people other than bureau personnel. I shill for no one, but I do have a strong affinity for The Square and for the hard-working people around that area who are trying their best to maintain a healthy and viable downtown Marietta and to get people to spend some time and dollars there.

I am told that there was some thought among a few of the MVB board members to simply go through the motions in selecting a new director; that there may have been a hand-picked candidate being positioned for the job.

All of this was going to be done behind closed doors. Wiser heads have prevailed — at least as far as understanding that the Open Records law clearly prevails in this case; I’m not sure about the hand-picked candidate — but to even think about closing the doors on the selection process is evidence enough that there is a dose of reality missing in the organization.

The Marietta Visitors Bureau is funded in large part from the city’s hotel/motel tax and automobile rental tax. The money for the organization comes from a vote of the Marietta City Council. This year’s grant was $197,000.

However anyone wants to slice-and-dice it, selecting a new director for the Marietta Visitors Bureau is the public’s business.

Clearly, the place could use a little help — no, make that a lot of help — in the public relations department. I labored on the corporate side of life as an external counselor for almost 40 years and considered the media as critical to the success of the organizations I represented. That is because the media is a pass-through to you.

It was my job to know the media, to have them get to know me and then hope for a fair opportunity to tell my side of a story through them to the various publics we served. I didn’t sit around and wait for somebody from the media to call me; I was a proactive cuss.

Now that I have been on the media side of the fence for a number of years, I never cease to be amazed at the poor media relations skills of many organizations and individuals, sitting on their duffs and not telling us why what they do should matter to you and to me — be we customers or constituents.

There are a few good ones that make the effort but mostly it is out of sight and out of mind.

To this writer, the MVB is a non-entity. What I know about events going on in downtown Marietta is not because of the MVB but rather merchants in the city who have taken the time to let me know — sometimes sharing their own frustrations with the MVB’s insular and self-congratulatory attitude.

Whenever the board gets around to naming a successor to Ms. Jenkins, I hope they will encourage the new director to do a better job of outreach. The organization should be Good News Central and we should all be a part of spreading the word about Marietta but for reasons that escape me, the Marietta Visitors Bureau doesn’t seem to understand that.

If anyone at MVB disagrees with my opinions, maybe they will let me know.

If they do, it will be the first time I have ever heard from them.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Just Sayin'....
July 16, 2013
With all due respect Mr. Yarbrough, the column sounds more like you desire to have someone who will make you feel "special" above all else. I do not believe THAT is in the job description. Perhaps someone who reaches out more would be a welcome change, but that alone should not be their job. Perhaps someone who is able to motivate others to carry out the mission is also desirable. After all, those very people on the Square that you go to, should be promoting the area, not simply relying on someone else to do the job alone.

I am not saying you are wrong in some of your views, but the way you presented them do sound a bit self-serving.
July 14, 2013
Dick, I completely agree with you. Recently a representative from a 4-H group approached the MVB about contributing some give away items related to the city to be traded with other 4-H groups from across the country at an event in Rogers, AR. A great way to publicize Marietta.There were over 2000 people there trading pens, pencils, ball caps, tourist info, key rings, pennants and items made in the localities of the attendees. Some of the states represented were Oregon, Montana, Michigan, Tennessee, Kansas, Alabama, Louisana, and several 4-H groups from Georgia. The response that was given to the 4-H group rep from the MVB was, "We don't do that kind of thing". Wow, what a blow off! Local places that did contribute were the Cartersville/Bartow County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Kennesaw State University, Georgia Highlands College, Glock Mfg., Berry College, and Shorter University among others. Doesn't sound like the MVB wants to advertise our interesting and historic city. Oh, yes, the Gone with the Wind Museum gave a generous contribution: one pencil and an advertising card. I heard they are hard up for visitors, too. Wonder why?
Kee Carlisle
July 13, 2013
Dick Yarbrough is absolutely correct in his assessment of the MVB's closed door approach to naming a new director. But wait. Here's the good news! There is a media savvy candidate who's vying for the position. She's Mary Koronkowski, and is the only candidate who actually meets the published requirements. Mary has the right experience, big ideas (and follow-through), knows the business, understands and seeks excellent media relations, listens to others, brings unique people together, best of a people person with a wonderful attitude. The MVB sorely needs that.
Davis E. McCollum
July 17, 2013
I meet the requirements.
July 13, 2013
I'm so sorry to read such terrible remarks about the job that everyone I know thinks Theresa Jenkins has done so well. Having to deal with so many personalities and getting things done to enliven our square has been a difficult job with many challenges. Theresa Jenkins is to be congratulated.
Davis McCollum
July 17, 2013
I concur...! Sounds like Mr. Yarbrough needs more attention than the MVB.
Agreed Mr. Y
July 13, 2013
I could not agree with you more, Mr. Yarborough. I happen into the MVB approximately 2 - 4 times per year and am always made to feel like an inconvenience for being there. I LOVE the Square but the personnel in this building do not give me the yearn to come back - that is for sure. I'll bet with the right person in this job, the Square and Marietta's business would BOOM.
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