Monday, March 29, 2010

Hermiston: Best Place To Live!

Hermiston: Best Place To Live!

My small Oregon community, Hermiston, is one of the top 20 best places to live in the west.

I think so, and so does the American Cowboy magazine.

According to AC, we have exceptional cowboy culture and charm, respect for history and heritage, recreational and outdoor activities, a strong sense of community and rugged independence, as well as the top-rated, nationally published blog, "Milt Reynolds: Thinking Out Loud."

Actually, as editor of "Milt Reynolds: Thinking Out Loud" I thought it appropriate to insert that last exceptional quality of Hermiston. Those who disagree with this editorial insertion should start their own blog.

But it's got me thinking. Is there a chance, perhaps just a slim chance, that the American Cowboy magazine plans to capitalize on our newfound exceptionalism by increasing sales of its magazine? Our we just a simple cog in a giant marketing scheme? Do we actually deserve to be one of the top 20? Just how did AC find us and come to know us?

As a marketing ploy, it's genius. Pick out twenty towns under 50,000, spaced somewhat equally over your marketing region. Search for their community websites, lift a few paragraphs from each one that seem especially appropriate for your target audience. Now, write an article, 21 paragraphs in length (one for each town, plus one to lead your article), and post it to your blog (which is nationally distributed, right? I mean, it's the World-Wide-Web!)

Now, pick up the phone and call the chamber of commerce or city hall of each of these towns, letting them know what an honor has been bestowed upon them. Out of all the towns in the west, only twenty are deemed BEST, and your town is among that elite bunch.

It's definitely a slick set-up. American Cowboy's website is packed with advertising, polls, popular content, forums, blogs, prizes, and flash graphics...not your down-home, simple website sittin' by the fire, just in from brandin'. Let's look closer and try to find evidence that the writer actually visited our town and got to know us.

Nothing on the website immediately pops out that highlights Hermiston...must be a minor blip on the western scene.

Now, don't get me wrong...I do think Hermiston is a great place to live...nobody forced me to live here, and I feel comfortable, safe, and entertained. And the magazine is probably a great read, and the website has tons of info and camaraderie.

It's just that "western" implies simple and rugged, independent and honest. I cannot imagine how large of staff is required to run the company that owns this magazine...from the financial, legal, editorial, publishing, distribution and marketing side of it all, it must be hundreds. The company, Active Interest Media ("AIM"), produces and markets a barn-full of diverse products:

Amazing Wellness, American Cowboy, Arts and Crafts Homes, Backpacker, Better Nutrition, Black Belt, Country’s Best Log Homes, Early Homes, Log Home Living, Muscle & Performance, Old-House Interiors, Old-House Journal, Optimum Wellness, Peaks, The Design Center Sourcebook, SNEWS, Timber Home Living, Vegetarian Times, Whole Foods Market, Yachts International, Yellowstone, and Yoga Journal magazines. In conjunction with these magazines, we produce and market over 75 martial arts, videos and books, including several by the legendary Bruce Lee and a dozen three-day log home shows seminars that attract thousands of consumers from around the country.

So, how did big-ole AC get to know little-ole Hermiston?

Oops! I have to retract a portion of what I previously said...the article about the best places to live is on the front page...must be a rotating flash program or something. Anyway, here's the article.

Kevin Carmody has the byline. "Kevin Carmody american cowboy" on brings several hits related to this one article about living in the west. Hard to know much about staff bios on the site, no search box by author. So, Kevin, when were you in Hermiston?

Kevin discovered the following exceptional opportunities awaiting immigrants to Hermiston:

An outdoor playground awaits in eastern Oregon, where the natural beauty of the Columbia River is ideal for horseback riding, water skiing, jogging, hiking, hunting, fishing, or plain old peace and quite. Hermiston is centrally located between Portland, Spokane, Wash., and Boise, Idaho, and hosts the Farm-City Pro Rodeo each August.

I especially value the quite that can be found on the Columbia River. The plain old quite is the best kind of quite, although I do like to spice it up now and again with a bit of fancy new quite. My favorite activity is chanting "I want quite a bit of quite right NOW!"

So, let's investigate my growing hypothesis that Kevin found Hermiston's website and decided that surfing would be just as good as visiting in person.

Hermiston's website has a great, 10-minute long video that describes the actual opportunities, features, and benefits of living here. Kevin could easily have simply viewed the video and wrote a brief summary, highlighting what he most appeals to the inner-cowboy to whom we owe all our western culture and charm.

Here's the real Hermiston:

But, I do not think this was Kevin's source. The video includes many down-home, westerny qualities that Kevin does not mention, including winter recreation, transportation hubs, golfing, shopping and gardening. Sadly, the video also completely ignores the plain, old quite that is the foundation of western living. I wonder how Kevin discovered this?

I found it! The Source of Kevin's Knowledge of Hermiston!

This quasi-blog includes a brief summary of Hermiston's attractions. Notice the common elements found also in Kevin's write-up:

Community pride and small town spirit characterize Hermiston. Situated on the northeastern edge of Oregon in the northwest corner of Umatilla County, Hermiston is centrally located between the major cities of Portland, Spokane and Boise. Its proximity to the recreation areas of the Blue Mountains makes it a favorite destination for those who enjoy fishing, hunting, and camping. In the winter, snowmobiling, skiing, sledding and snow tubing are popular mountain activities.

The Columbia River, located six miles to the north of Hermiston, offers many water sports including boating, swimming, fishing and wind surfing. Additional fishing spots are the Cold Springs Reservoir and Umatilla River. For hunters, Hermiston has pheasant, goose, duck and quail hunting in the local area.

The Farm City Pro Rodeo, held in conjunction with the Umatilla County Fair, is recognized nationally as one of the finest pro rodeos in the country. It attracts top quality cowboys, cowgirls, clowns and announcers. Held for five days in August, the Umatilla County Fair features daily big name entertainment, as well as local exhibits of produce and animals.

Several state parks are near Hermiston. The most noted is Hat Rock, named after a distinctive rock monolith described by Lewis and Clark on their travels.

Family focus and small town pride makes Hermiston a friendly place to visit, and a great place to raise a family.

Note: the host of this community PR website is Interesting site. Looks like it's owned by a Portland company...that makes it a little more "down-home" than AIM. It's a collection of links organized by category...designed to be a browser's home page, probably. I'd never make it my home page...too busy...but it's got lots of links to sites that I never knew I needed.

Anyway, I'm quite sure that ("On the Internet, WELCOME is spelled!") is Kevin's sole source.

Kevin, however, is the ONLY one who has mentioned our peace and quite. I like that.

Seems pretty darned, down-home to me.

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