Wendy Corr

Wendy Corr, assistant marketing director for the Park County Travel Council, has been using social media to promote area attractions and tracking the benefits through the Wyoming Office of Tourism.

CODY, Wyo. — If you don't see Wendy Corr around town, chances are she's tweeting, providing a status update on Facebook or posting to her new travel blog as Corrie N. Cody.

Corr, assistant director of marketing with the Park County Travel Council, is using social media to help promote northern Wyoming's attractions to the outside world.

And so far, it looks to be paying off.

“Yesterday, I talked about the Irma Hotel,” she explained last week during a meeting with the Park County Travel Council's board of directors. “I got a lot of people who either liked it or had questions, like if it's really haunted.”

Building a Twitter following can be a grind, and winning fans on Facebook isn't always easy. But Corr's efforts, while still early, have provided visitors a new way of exploring the area they're planning to visit long before they arrive.

According to the Wyoming Office of Tourism, attractions within “Buffalo Bill's Cody/Yellowstone Country,” as it's known in the tourism business, received 222 social media mentions in July, August and September, worth more than $220,000 in ad value.

“The report shows how many times your area gets mentioned in the media, not only statewide, but nationally and worldwide,” Corr said. “The more you're mentioned, it means your ad value goes up.”

The report shows that the region received 145 media mentions in August alone. The numbers surprised even Corr, who decided to investigate.

She found that the region had received positive coverage from the Los Angeles Times, while the Associated Press published its own story on northern Wyoming.

Sunset magazine also released its travel guide to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, while CBS published stories on local attractions. And the new Old Faithful Visitor Education Center was dedicated in August.

“But we got the big ah-ha moment when we realized that August was when one of the fugitives was apprehended in Meeteetse,” Corr said. “As a result, we were in the news for about a week solid.”

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The national attention brought by the manhunt and the arrest of fugitive Tracy Province, who was serving a life sentence for murder and armed robbery, helped drive media mentions higher. In comparison, July received 42 media mentions while September received 35.

The numbers for the final quarter haven't been released, but Corr likes the direction things are going. She's now working to drive the numbers higher as the summer season approaches.

“By social media type, in our area, we get the most exposure by Twitter,” Corr said. “Most of the tweets are neutral. It's not so much positive or negative.”

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Twitter accounted for 48 percent of the area's mentions while Facebook accounted for 13 percent. YouTube accounted for 7 percent, followed by Flickr at 9 percent, according to the report.

Together, 74 percent of the mentions were neutral, while 18 percent were positive and 7 percent were negative.

Claudia Wade, director of the Park County Travel Council, returned with Corr this week from Sheridan and the 2011 Wyoming Governor's Hospitality and Tourism Conference.

Wade also likes the progress the travel council has made in its social media efforts, though she also admitted it can still do more.

“Our ad agency had said we needed to be more active,” Wade said. “At the tourism conference, we were tickled to learn that we were ahead of the game when compared to other destinations in Wyoming.

“But we need to stay on top of things. Decisions to come to the area aren't necessarily made over social media, but I think it can help enhance a visit and extend a stay once they do decide to come.”

Contact Martin Kidston at mkidston@billingsgazette.com or 307-527-7250.