State taps PR firm to boost tourism, economic development

April 13, 2015

Indiana has hired a global public relations firm to help fix any damage that resulted from the controversy surrounding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. announced Monday it was collaborating with the Indiana Office of Tourism Development in hiring Porter Novelli to strengthen Indiana's reputation "as a welcoming place to live, visit and do business."

"Indiana continues to have one of the best business climates in the country and hosts a robust travel, tourism and hospitality industry,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith in a written statement. “We are engaging with our partners in state tourism and the internationally-respected firm Porter Novelli to enhance our state’s image and remind the country that Indiana remains a great place to live, work and visit.”

The IEDC news release doesn't specifically mention the law, but an email sent by the tourism office to local officials and obtained by The Associated Press says Porter Novelli was hired "to restore Indiana's image after the recent political controversy surrounding RFRA."

“Now more than ever, we want to remind the world that Hoosiers welcome everyone and that Indiana is a great place for individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses to reach their full potential,” Smith said. “That’s why we are moving forward with this initiative together.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee last week added $1 million to tourism funding in the state budget specifically for that purpose.

Porter Novelli is part of New York-based Omnicom Group Inc. It frequently works on public service campaigns for states and governmental agencies.

“We look forward to working with Indiana’s economic development and tourism teams to help communicate the incredible and innovative story that is Indiana today,” said Brad MacAfee, president of Porter Novelli’s North America region and a graduate of Indiana University, in a written statement. “We are honored to be selected as the agency to support the state in this important assignment.”


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