BY LEANN DILBECK –
City Councilwoman Terri Neugent announced during last week’s City Council meeting that the Advertising and Promotion Commission had regretfully accepted the resignation of Ilana Burk, who has served as its marketing director since 2009.
Neugent said that Burk was successful in assisting the A&P with their mission, which is to improve the overall economy of Mena. This goal is accomplished by the attraction of visitors to the community through the creation and promotion of events, attractions, & tourism related activities. “Ilana was definitely an asset to the A&P. We wish her the best in whatever interests she pursues in the future.”
Neugent went on to say, “On behalf of the Commission, I’d like to acknowledge our appreciation for Ilana’s hard work during the past 3+ years. Her efforts and commitment in promoting tourism in the City of Mena produced a positive economic impact on the businesses of the city. At the end of the day, that’s what the A&P is all about!”
Burk continues to offer marketing and design services through her company 3BI Design as well as serving as the Composing Manager for The Polk County Pulse and MyPulseNews.com.
Neugent also formally announced and welcomed Kristy Fricker as the Commission’s new marketing director, effective September 15. In an interview with The Pulse, Fricker explained that she possesses 16 years of media and marketing experience.
Fricker worked for a while in the medical profession before moving into the business sector. Most of her tourism related experience stems from employment with Chambers of Commerce, one in Lawrence, Kansas and the most recent in Owasso, a suburb of Tulsa. Fricker explained that in every position she’s held, she always “advanced very quickly. In fact, I was headhunted away from the Owasso Chamber because of a resolution I wrote for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.” Fricker explained that the resolution was used as a model for other cities but also explained that it was through that project “that started everyone in Tulsa saying ‘ooh, we really need this girl!’”
Fricker lived in Hatfield from 4th grade to 9th grade. After 9th grade she moved to Wichita and later to Tulsa, which she described as her “adult home” until five years ago when she said decided she wanted to come “home” to Polk County where much of her family resides. “You can’t throw a rock without hitting a family member here,” she joked.
She said once she made the decision to return, “it was all about finding a job,” which she did at Christian Motorcyclist Association (CMA). She moved back in February 2010 and said she enjoyed her job there but it just didn’t fully utilize the extensive skills she has. “I was working with their “goodies”…their products. I put products on their website. I managed their goody Facebook page.”
Fricker explained that she married her current husband Brant and it was he who encouraged her to step-out when she learned of the opening with the Mena Advertising & Promotion Commission.
Fricker believes that it is through her work experience at large Chambers of Commerce that has best prepared her for her new position and hopes to bring much of the same concepts to play in Polk County. “I think each community has its own draw and I believe Mena is the gateway to the Ouachitas.”
Fricker was complimentary of the work that has already been put into place but said there was plenty more to do. She said she would continue traditions such as the Lum & Abner Festival and the Christmas Festival. She said the website was currently under re-construction so she was looking forward to seeing that process completed as well as designing the new brochure. She said the distribution of the brochures outside of the area had been great but she planned to make them more readily available to those in the local tourism industry.
She said she is working on the 2014 Strategic Marketing Plan now and plans to present to the A&P Commission for their approval at the November 6 meeting. She was hesitant to discuss any of the new concepts she plans to implement prior to receiving the Commission’s approval.
Fricker said she is so very happy to be home. She has one son, Ethan, age 13, who attends Cossatot River. She and Brant are planning to build a new home soon. “I’m ready to get to work sharing with everyone else what a great place we have here.”
And so is Neugent and the rest of the A&P Commission. “The A&P feels confident that Kristy is more than qualified to step in and take off running with creative ideas and hard work in promoting the City of Mena as a wonderful tourism destination. The Commission would like to welcome Kristy. We know great things are in Mena’s future.”