Ocean City Today
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White marlin award draws eyeballs

Social media, web stats show great interest in fate of city’s annual fishing prize
By Katie Tabeling | Jul 20, 2017
File Photo

(July 21, 2017) Ocean City officials have declared the city’s promotion of its $5,000 prize for the first white marlin caught in local waters a success, even though media presence surrounding the check presentation was lackluster.

Tourism Director Donna Abbott told the Tourism Commission last week that the city did get its money’s worth out of marketing the longstanding fishing prize.

“Hits on the fishing page on our website from the beginning of May until the marlin was caught were through the roof,” Abbott said. “Scott [Lenox] and I worked really hard in promoting it this year.”

After the City Council voted to eliminate the prize money during budget talks as a way to reduce spending, local businesses collected $6,000 to maintain the tradition. The council then reversed its decision providing that the prize and the resort itself would be marketed heavily though Lenox and Dave Messick’s “Hooked on OC” show and Fish In OC website.

The possible prize money available overall was $16,000. That included the Ocean City Marlin Club’s annual $5,000 for the first catch of the season for a club member. That banner garnered 1,622 clicks when it was online.

“It was also the highest clicked banner of the other banners running at the time,” said Communications Manager Jessica Waters. “Page views for Fish In OC were also up 191 percent from the previous time.”

Comparing 2016 to this year, looking from May 1 to June 27, Fish In OC visitors had spiked from 3,473 hits to 5,267 clicks, showing an increase of 52 percent.

Social media posts using the #FirstWhiteMarlinOC hashtag created on Facebook specifically for the pursuit of the white marlin got 180,879 impressions and reached 188,578 users.

Hooked on OC videos promoting the white marlin prize garnered an average of 1,530 views.

Roughly 22 news outlets reported on the new prize money, ranging from various local newspapers, radio and television outlets to national papers such as The Washington Post and U.S. News Report.

Despite the buzz the marketing campaign shows on paper, only local newspapers were present when Dave Taylor of Baltimore was awarded $5,000 during the July 3 council session. A smaller ceremony was also held earlier that day by the business community in Entry Park on North Division Street to hand Taylor a $6,000 check.

Ian Schwing landed a white the day before Taylor did, earning the $5,000 Ocean City Marlin Club’s prize. Schwing caught the marlin while aboard the Fish Whistle, captained by longtime Marlin Club member Charlie Horning, in Poor Man’s Canyon. He did not win the full prize, as the crew was fishing out of Indian River, Delaware.

Schwing will be presented his prize money during the Ocean City Marlin Club’s seasonal awards in October.

“A few hundred members attend the awards, it’s a big event,” said Ocean City Marlin Club President Franky Pettolina. “There’s many other seasonal awards. We give $2,500 to the first blue, $500 to the first white by a junior angler and $1,500 to the last white of the season. It gets pretty competitive.”

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