As a frequent visitor to Winthrop and the Methow Valley, Rebekah Peterson came to appreciate the town’s varied attractions and the valley’s natural beauty.
So any enthusiasm she demonstrates in promoting the Western theme town in her new role as Winthrop’s marketing director will be genuine.
Peterson was named to the position at last week’s Winthrop Town Council meeting. She was selected from among several candidates, and was recommended to the council by Winthrop’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC), which oversees how the town’s motel and hotel taxes are used to promote tourism.
Peterson replaces Kristin Smith, who held the marketing position for several years before her recent resignation (Smith is also leaving her post as marketing director for Methow Trails).
Smith had been employed by the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce, which had contracted with the town to provide marketing and promotional services. However, the chamber recently opted out of that arrangement, so Peterson’s contract is with the town (she will not be an employee).
Peterson, a graduate of Brigham Young University who concentrated on communications and Spanish studies, has been working in marketing and public relations for the past several years, she said. She and her husband, Albert, are moving to Winthrop from Tacoma.
“We’re excited to settle in here,” Peterson said in an interview last week. She and her husband intend to take advantage of local recreational opportunities, Peterson said.
Peterson said she is impressed with the way Smith used social media to reach different audiences in a variety of ways, and is an advocate of using social media to their best advantage.
“I’ve used a lot of social media for companies and organizations. It’s a remarkably powerful tool,” Peterson said. “I thought this would be a good opportunity to use what I’ve learned.”
Peterson said she has already spent time greeting business owners in downtown Winthrop and asking them for ideas and suggestions. And she dove right into marketing responsibilities at last weekend’s Winthrop Vintage Wheels Show. Peterson said she will be visible at chamber of commerce and town meetings. Smith, whose resignation was effective Aug. 31, has offered to help her in transition, Peterson added.
“Winthrop definitely has the full package” of attractions, Peterson said. “I’m really excited and open to suggestions.”
Peterson said she would also be open to ideas about how the Winthrop and Twisp marketing directors could work together.
Peterson was retained as an independent contractor on a one-year agreement for $37,560. Her relationship with the town will be more direct than Smith’s.
At last week’s Town Council meeting, council members expressed that they would like to get regular reports about marketing activities, as well as more-detailed performance goals and measures.
“I want to see more detail on the numbers,” council member Ben Nelson said. “Ultimately, it comes down to us. We are responsible.”
Council member Bill Kilby, the town’s representative on the LTAC, told the council that Peterson had the highest score in a rating system the committee used to rank the three finalist candidates.
Julie Muyllaert, vice president of the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce, told the council that “I’m really pleased that you are interested and engaged and supportive. We believe the position belongs where it now lives.”
An added responsibility of the marketing director position under the new contract is supervision of the Visitor Information Center next to Town Hall.
Peterson can be reached at email@example.com.