Appleton, are you blushing?
If it feels like people have been talking about you — mostly in a good way — you’re right.
Appleton has been popping up in national media circles a lot lately.
On Saturday, a “Saturday Night Live” skit featuring Jim Carrey as a possessed owner of a Halloween costume shop was set in Appleton. We inquired via NBC but have gotten no word on why Appleton was chosen as the home of Geoff’s Halloween Emporium.
The skit came near the end of Saturday’s episode — that place where shaky skits often go to die — and it was only marginally funny, but, hey, it was Jim Carrey and it was “SNL.” Take your glory where you can get it.
“Not everyone agrees, but I think that’s a great opportunity to get some notoriety,” Pam Seidl, executive director of the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau, said of the “SNL” mention.
But that’s not Appleton’s only conversation starter in recent weeks.
There was Appleton being showcased on a Thursday Night Football telecast earlier this month for its connections to Harry Houdini (even if CBS got the narrative wrong). That followed Appleton being part of the History Channel’s four-hour mini-series on Harry Houdini in September.
Viral video spoofed: ‘Jen from Appleton’ imagined in Bath Body works rant
Then there was that odd YouTube video with the rant about Bath Body Works that went viral earlier this month and spawned an Angela v. Jen debate and a parody video.
And Appleton — the greater Fox Cities, to be accurate, even though national mentions tend to stick with Appleton — has been popping up on all sorts of lists lately.
Great Places contest: Vote for Appleton’s College Avenue
The city’s downtown is in play as one of the Great Places in America courtesy of the American Planning Association. College Avenue is one of 10 finalists in the “People’s Choice” category, with online voting continuing through Wednesday at www.planning.org/greatplaces/31st.
A week ago smartasset.com named Appleton the fifth best minor league baseball city in the country. The site based its top 25 list on five criteria — violent crime rate, property crime rate, disposable income, unemployment rate and available entertainment.
Youth soccer in Appleton gets its due as well. Practice Link, a national magazine targeted to the medical community, featured Appleton, Baltimore, Foxborough, Massachusetts and Scottsdale, Arizona, as four top soccer cities in America in its just-released fall edition. The USA Youth Sports Complex gets kudos in a story that also applauds the Fox Cities’ recreational opportunities, its rich history and its livability.
Stats don’t lie: Appleton is great
Meanwhile, Vox, an explanatory news website, featured a story on the top 10 places to live based on balances between median income and cost of living. Appleton rolled in at No. 9 and a Vox editor gave the city a much-appreciated shout out.
Those kinds of mentions on national platforms, no matter how unscientific they might be, can be music to the ears of Seidl and her staff as they work to promote the Fox Cities as a great destination.
“We use it but we’re real careful how we use it,” Seidl said. “Some are more scientific than others.”
Appleton Downtown Inc., an advocacy group for downtown businesses, jump-started the Great Places in America conversation when its Creative Downtown Committee nominated Appleton for the honor. That it took off from there and downtown Appleton landed among the 10 finalists has spurred a lot of social media conversation.
“It raises awareness,” said ADI executive director Jennifer Stephany. “It brings positive comments. This is really an opportunity for people to talk about why they love downtown Appleton. There are a lot of people who embrace what it means to have the heart of the community be so alive. … We have an opportunity to tell that story when we get on a list like this.”
The onset of social media seems to have generated more interest — fleeting as it may be — in lists and reader surveys, Seidl said.
But it’s a double-edged sword and marketers need to take the good with the bad.
“They’re nice to have but we also have to be very cautious in how we use them for the long term,” Seidl said.
Seidl said she would make no apologies if Appleton residents would vote big in the Great Places in America poll. Why not have fun with it, she said.
“Appleton is a great place to live. We all believe that, so why not? It really raises the profile of the area from a PR standpoint. That’s the best use of these lists.
“It helps the area come up on people’s radar screens.”
Even if they’re looking for Geoff’s Halloween Emporium.
—Ed Berthiaume: 920-993-1000, ext. 213, or email@example.com; on Twitter @EdBerthiaiume
Time to vote
Downtown Appleton is one of 10 finalists for the People’s Choice Award in the Great Places in America rankings, an annual list created by the American Planning Association. The People’s Choice Award is determined by online voting at www.planning.org/greatplaces/31st. Voting continues through Wednesday.