Why is Seminole County tourism promoting Orlando attractions?

The Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival is one of the most prestigious art festivals in the nation and typically draws more than 350,000 visitors, yet the folks in charge of marketing Seminole County tourism saw fit to promote the out-of-county event on social media.

The marketing team also  promoted an Orlando coffee shop that offers roasted coffee beans, while ignoring a shop in Lake Mary – La Meca Coffee Growers and Roasters – that not only roasts their own beans, but grows the beans on the family farm in Columbia.

Fortunately, the end may be near for that marketing team.

Paradise, a St. Petersburg advertising and marketing company, is paid $569,500 a year to promote tourism in Seminole County. The firm is most infamously known for rebranding Seminole County into “Orlando North,” which caused quite a stink among the locals. The idea was that by including the word “Orlando” in the marketing, Seminole County tourism could piggyback off the international brand Orlando has created to entice visitors.

That’s a good theory, and it might even work. The problem is the “Do Orlando North” campaign created by Paradise seems to be promoting Orlando more than Seminole County on its social media accounts, a key outlet to reach potential visitors.

In the last 6 months, 25% of the posts to the @DoOrlandoNorth Instagram account have featured Orlando area attractions: Disney World, Universal, Harry Potter, and the Orlando Eye, as well as the aforementioned post about the Winter Park Art Festival.

Furthermore, the social media campaign lacks cohesion, fails to include a clear call-to-action message that are staples of successful campaigns, ignores social media “influencers” who can help promote Seminole County and frequently uses pictures taken by locals.

That’s not a knock on locals, but it appears most of the interaction on the Do Orlando North’s social media campaigns are from people who already live in Seminole County and Central Florida.

That is if there is any interaction at all. The Do Orlando North’s Facebook page lists 8,894 followers, which sounds impressive. A look behind the numbers, however,  shows that  the page averages about 20 engagements per week, which means someone “liked,” commented or shared a post on the Do Orlando North page.

Bottom line: The Do Orlando North social media campaign sucks. 

The good news: A change is in the air. For the first time in a decade, the county is putting the tourism marketing contract out to bid.

Tricia Seltzer, the chief administrator for the county’s Office of Economic Development and Community Relations, said her office is  finalizing a Request For Proposal (RFP), which should be ready to hit the streets in a couple of weeks.

“This is really being driven by the rise in social media,” Setzer said. “We don’t have a huge budget to buy a lot of TV advertising, so we think we can make a very effective push through our social media outlets.”

To that end, the county is separating the contract into three pieces: Leisure, sports and social media. Companies can bid on the entire contract or individual pieces, depending on their expertise.

“We really want to see what’s out there,” Setzer said.

Once the RFP is released, the county will take bids for 30 days, then staff and a 5-person interview panel will evaluate the proposals. The panel will make a recommendation to the county commission, which is expected to make a final decision in July.

If you want more information on the RFP, contact the Seminole County Purchasing and contracts Department at (407) 665-7116, or check out the online bid opportunities.

Here’s a sampling of just how bad Paradise is using the @DoOrlandoNorth Instagram account. I reached out to Jessica Mackey, the Paradise employee who handles social media for the firm. She has not returned my call. (Note: the smart-aleck headlines and commentary are all mine).

Have your wedding … at Disney

TheBokey: @DoOrlandoNorth why are you promoting #DisneyWedding? Are there no #weddingvenues in Seminole County? #whopaysyou #epicfail

Winter Park needs our charity

TheBokey: Good for you @DoOrlandoNorth! Promote the heck out of that Winter Park Art Festival. Even though Winter Park is in Orange County, that long-suffering little burg is struggling to get some positive publicity. Kudos for promoting Central Florida’s most under appreciated city! Here’s a piece of advice : Using #downtownsanford in your caption doesn’t make the WP Art Festival anymore relevant to #SeminoleCounty. Don’t be a #hashtagwhore by dropping random and unrelated #’s just to get more “likes.” Instead, post engaging content that people like. #shameful #youlookdesperate #notcool

‘Ears’ to you!

TheBokey: @DoOrlandoNorth Seminole County taxpayers are NOT all “ears” to hear about how random tourists, who may or may not have stayed in a #SeminoleCounty hotel, spent their money outside of the county you’ve renamed Orlando North. Professional social media tip: Your call to action has to be specific to the audience you’re trying to reach. #isthisrelevant #thisdoesnthelp #whatsthepoint

Dreams trump details

TheBokey: The slogan is “Do Orlando North,” but “Do Orlando Dreamier” is close enough for government work, right @DoOrlandoNorth? #isthisrelevant #cliche #castle #photo #unoriginal #whatsyourmessage

When in doubt, #sexsells

TheBokey: Good call @DoOrlandoNorth. When you run out of pictures about stuff in Orlando North, just post a photo of a #busty #blonde #jumping in the air. With a #hottie like that, no one’s going to notice that sign promotes Universal and not Orlando North. #hotgirl #distraction #ChiveWorthy #whatsyourmessage

You don’t drive around Orlando much

The Bokey: hahahahaha you’re funny @DoOrlandoNorth!!! 35 minutes from OrlandoNorth to Animal Kingdom?  On #I-4?! Have you seen the amount of #roadconstruction going on? #noway #bumpertobumper #maybe@2am

#shoplocal ???

TheBokey: Yes, get your morning started by drinking a cup of #coffee made by an Orlando company. 😦  @DoOrlandoNorth do you not know about La Meca Coffee Growers and Roasters in Lake Mary? Le Meca not only roasts their own #coffeebeans, they also grow the beans on the #familyfarm in Columbia. Much cooler story. Btw, #shoplocal doesn’t mean sending our visitors to a coffee shop 30 minutes away in north Orlando. Maybe  @DoOrlandoNorth you confused north Orlando with Orlando North. It’s tricky, but there is a difference. #Who’sPayingYou #AudobonParknotinSeminole #You’reReallyBadAtThis

Brighter is not natural

TheBokey: When we were known as Seminole County, our slogan was the “Natural Choice.” Now that we’re Orlando North, are we the “Brighter Choice?” #anothercastlepic #yawn

Why spy an ‘eye’ when you can see the ‘eyesore’

TheBokey: Come on, the Orlando Eye is tall but you can’t spy it from Orlando North. Now the “Eyesore on I-4”? You definitely can see that from Orlando North. Don’t be a hater @DoOrlandoNorth! Embrace the mistake by the fake lake. Maybe y’all could post a series of photos showing the “rapid” changes taking place at Altamonte Springs’ tallest building. At least it would be #local. #You’reReallyBadAtThis #doyouofferrefunds

This picture of Hogwarts is hogwash

TheBokey: An official acceptance letter! That’s lame AF. We’re not muggles @DoOrlandoNorth. You’re using taxpayer money to promote a well-known international brand.  #why #howsthishelping #youwork4SemCo #refundplease

Sanford’s baseball team #wins more

TheBokey: It took the Cubs 108 years to win a #championship. The Sanford River Rats have won 3 #titles in 12 years! Instead of pictures of the Disney rat honoring an Illinois team, try posting some pix of the River Rats playing at Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium. It’s a place loaded with #baseball #history. #stepupyourIGgame 


TheBokey: #WTF @DoOrlandoNorth?! After getting called out by a couple of loyal readers of The Bokey for promoting a Universal Orlando ice cream shop, @DoOrlandoNorth responded: “… We also enjoy and appreciate what is available just a bit south.”  If  y’all want to enjoy overpriced ice cream from a shop “just a bit south,” cool. But Universal has a multi-million dollar marketing budget. They don’t need your help. Spend Seminole County taxpayers money promoting #shoplocal #icecream #parlors.




  1. I had so hoped the current commissioners would have been voted out due to their lack of incite into our future but more interested in promoting Orlando.


  2. Great article! Isn’t there enough pressure covering everything “just a bit south”? If the whole point of this ridiculous, out of touch campaign was to attract people to Seminole, wtf? I think they just want people to book hotels in our county while they are stopping in for Orlando do attractions, but I question the effectiveness of that strategy.

    Did I ever tell you about the time they encouraged everyone to go eat at Hollerbach’s, and then posted a totally stock photo of an eisbein that looks nothing like ours? I commented, “Wow, thanks for the shout-out! And any time you want an actual photo of our actual restaurant, all you have to do is message us! Or Google.” I appreciate the intention to promote, I really do, but that’s just the wrong way to do it.


  3. Didn’t know “DoOrlandoNorth” was promoting Seminole County… Makes sense why it’s not working to truly promote Seminole county itself, great analysis.


  4. Why does the International Airport in Sanford use Orlando in it’s name and puts it first at that? It’s a rhetorical question,Sanford is “piggy-backing” on the familiarity of Orlando’s name overseas. Still, it would be nice to see Sanford stand on it’s own merit.


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