Media event not a moment of significance


400-VIC-PRESS-CONFERENCEIn an editorial note posted Tuesday to an article that appeared in 1565today, Brian Nelson prefaced his characterization of the city and county’s recent “full blown outdoor news conference” as an attempt to puff the questionable event up into a “moment of significance”.

Historic City News editor Michael Gold observed that, of less than 50 people who attended the event, half were employees of the city or county, including the fire chief and chief of police, the Cultural Council, Visitor and Convention Bureau, St Augustine Amphitheatre, and the city’s 450th commemoration staff.

Nelson wrote that “The City of St Augustine breathlessly pulled out all the stops Tuesday to herald the coming of Mumford and Sons; a group of British musicians who will make a two day appearance in America’s Oldest City over a weekend in September,” then rhetorically asks, “Haven’t heard of them?”

Admittedly, the group appears in this year’s Grammy awards; but, their name is hardly as legendary or even well known as, say, Ringo Starr, ZZ Top, or Boston — all of whom have already appeared at the Amphitheatre with a fraction of the attention.

“Attendees were assured, confidently, that tickets and hotel rooms would be snapped up, in minutes and days respectively, after news of the band’s visit was out, and that during the two-day-and-night event, thousands of concert goers would be unleashed on downtown bars and nightclubs once the music ends conveniently at 10:00 pm, further bolstering the local economy,” Nelson said.

No one is saying how much the city has invested in securing the band or will spend to accommodate their needs while they are here; but, the two-day event has already been declared a “450th signature event” and, even though it is more than seven months away, the publicity-machine is already in high gear.

Nelson’s impression of the event was that the message was history, history, history, as well as vital tourist dollars. He described the press conference, which included complimentary cupcakes with chocolate moustaches, as more proof that “a determined city administration” was capably promoting St Augustine’s milestone birthday in 2015.

“Frankly, if this hype sets a pattern wherein the city hopes to rebut current and future critics of the 450 gala management and expenditures,” Nelson concluded, “then it is going to be a very, very long three years ahead for all of us.”

As soon as Historic City News determined that tickets to the event were selling for almost $200 per person, we surmised the event was nothing more than an attempt to use our publication for “free advertising” of a for-profit venture, and we declined to report.