County buys space in airline magazine to promote economy

Passengers board a US Airways jet bound for Phoenix at the Grand Junction Regional Airport on Friday afdternoon.

Mesa County’s decision to spend $7,400 on sponsored editorial content in an airline magazine could expose more than six million travelers to the wonders of the Grand Valley for the first time, county officials said.

The magazine, scheduled for publication in June, could be read by up to 6.5 million travelers, a spokeswoman for US Airways magazine said.

The magazine hosts a gala 5 p.m. Thursday at Two Rivers Winery to persuade more local advertisers to jump in and help pay the 12-page cost of the editorial spread.

Production of the stories and photos begins following the gala, when the magazine’s sales team starts meeting with people who want to sponsor a page of editorial about their business.

The promotion will focus on the Grand Valley’s tourism assets, economic development opportunities and vibrant lifestyle, all that makes Mesa County “an amazing place to live, work and play,” Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese said. Each page of editorial content costs about $3,700 to sponsor. The county will buy two and receive the third for free, Mesa County Commissioner John Justman said.

In recent weeks, Mesa County worked with US Airways to identify key community groups, businesses and industries that would be best served by participating in the feature, Pugliese said.

The county then distributed an invitation to area businesses, asking owners in a variety of industries to take part, including health care, tourism, retirement communities, retailers and real estate, she said.

“They are the most frequent-flying audience, really, that you can reach out to. They are always kind of planning their next getaway,” US Airways magazine spokeswoman Nicole Bordges said. “In the past year, 60 percent of readers were inspired to visit a destination or attend an event because of a magazine article.”

The median age of US Airways magazine readers is 56 and their median income is $115,000, the magazine’s website said.

“US Airways magazine specializes in doing these kind of custom editorial profiles,” Bordges said. “We enjoy giving our readers access to lesser-known, interesting places.”

Bordges said she has been working with Pugliese and county spokesman Ryan Cook on organizing local stakeholders and discussing possible content.

“We get content from the community,” she said. “We use their images and we work with them to develop the editorial copy. In terms of page count, it really depends on how many people in the community support it.”

“You won’t see any display ads,” she said.

Santa Barbara, Calif., twice purchased editorial content in the magazine, most recently a 60-page spread about the area’s wine industry, Bordges said.

“I think it’s a great opportunity, said Kelly Flenniken, executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership. “Lots of communities do leverage that type of marketing. And every airline has it. It’s a good audience, for the most part, and so a lot of communities do take advantage of that opportunity.”

GJEP has been approached about sponsoring similar advertising in the past, but decided to focus its limited advertising budget on other media, Flenniken said.

This time, the opportunity to share a page of content with other community stakeholders could be more attractive financially, “where the price tag gets a little more reasonable,” she said.

“If the board decides this is a good value, I will figure out a way to make it work (within the partnership’s budget),” she said.

Flenniken and other partnership representatives plan to attend the March 13 gala at Two Rivers Winery. 

“If nothing else, because having the opportunity to reach such a large audience with our story is an opportunity we’re excited about having,” Flenniken said. “So, if people are able to put that together, we want to applaud that effort and do what we can to help.”

Justman said the payoff for the coverage will be, “Millions of eyes and thousands of people thinking about western Colorado.”

“In June 2014, Mesa County, Colorado, will literally be sitting in front of millions of people,” Justman said. “Picture this — you are flying home to any U.S. city, from a convention Saturday morning June 14. Bored with your tablet or paperback, you flip through the in-air flight magazine. The full color pages showing a sunny, gorgeous gem of a Colorado, coupled with intriguing articles — showcasing everything from wineries to high quality health care; mountain biking to manufacturing and tech start ups at a nationally recognized business incubator.”

The magazine will be available in all seat pockets starting in June and online for six months to one year afterward, Justman said.

All companies who choose to be featured will have the opportunity to link to the online edition, and to source it to their readers, he said. 

“We hope everyone seizes this opportunity,” Justman said.


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So what will happen when US Air and American combine… will the magazine still be in existence..

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