News Stories

#SWFLChallenge Aims to Highlight Local Businesses, Attractions

Southwest Florida has been getting a lot of media attention on the state and national level for two reasons: red tide and blue-green algae . The message isn’t necessarily ‘stay away from Southwest Florida,’ but it might seem like it to some local businesses who are hurting.

“We’re definitely seeing our worst sales in a long time,” Merry Coffman said, who is the marketing director at Pure Florida Boat Cruises. “And I can almost say sometimes it may be worse than Irma.”

If you’re a tour guide, having only four people on board is the last thing you want to see. Yet this is the reality for many businesses on a daily basis.

Due to our comprehensive coverage, our Hello SWFL audience has heard stories like Merry’s for months now.

Now, a group of public relations and marketing firms in the area are trying to change that with a simple hashtag included in positive messages: #SWFLChallenge.

The hashtag is being used across social media platforms to highlight the great things the area has to offer.

The goal? To have residents and visitors share posts of them visiting local businesses. They aren’t trying to ignore the reality of what’s happening, but they want to remind people of all the positive things about the SWFL area.

“So it’s kind of turning it on it’s side instead of just continuing to beat the dead horse of negative news,” Samantha Scott said, who is president of Pushing the Envelope marketing agency, “and looking at what are the positive things you can do and how can you help the people that are also affected in this.”

“I just wanted to showcase Southwest Florida in a positive light and really get the community behind it, because we need to tell that side of the story as well,” Albert Arguelles said, who is vice president of iPartnerMedia.

The water may be tainted now, with either red tide or blue-green algae, but business owners are hoping for the best.

“I want a million people to see this campaign, man,” Mark Blust said, who works at Prombroker Restaurant Group. “It’s feel good stuff. It’s getting the message out here that there’s still great times and fun to be had I’m SWFL.”

With a broad, optimistic smile and a glimmer in his eye, Mark said, “it not all doom and gloom.”

Learn more about the #SWFLChallenge here .

Additional reporting by Terrace Myles