Montana Politics

A Curmudgeonly Suggestion for Marketing Helena

Helena has been working to establish a unique identity that will bring people into our fair city when they visit Montana and to encourage them to think about making the capital a destination spot all by itself. At one point, and it may still be the case, Helena settled on calling itself the Best Small Arts Town in the West, which may or may not still be the marketing strategy in place, although a Google search suggests it is not.

Even that vaunted slogan may not have the power to bring in today’s travelers, the millennials who want not only scenic wonder and education, but thrills as well. During the summer, Helena can offer those kinds of experiences, whether it’s in Montana’s rivers or mountains, but during the winter, the chance for extreme experiences simply is diminished.

Until now.

Tourists want to experience opportunities that can’t be replicated anywhere else—and the past few years have shown that Helena may offer a unique opportunity for thrill-seekers during the long, cold winter nights.

  • Always dreamed of the excitement of the Olympic bobsled? Just take your compact car to any of our hilly streets for weeks after a snow storm and Helena’s got it.
  • Want to experience sliding sideways on an unplowed road even when you’re traveling at less than ten miles an hour? Helena’s got it.
  • Want to experience the thrills of Olympic speed skating in parking lots and on sidewalks that have neither been shoveled nor graveled? Helena’s got it.
  • Want to experience the nerve wracking tension of driving on roads that have the ice cover of roads in northern Canada and the traffic of busy three lane streets? Helena’s got it.
  • Want to play Helena’s unique game of chance, Will It Melt or Will It Be Plowed First? (Hint: always bet on the latter option). Helena’s got it.
  • Want to feel the exciting adrenaline rush of driving down a road marked as an Emergency Snow Route that it nonetheless it so rutted with packed snow that it feels like you’re riding in a covered wagon from the 1800s? Helena’s got it.

So let’s seize this moment to market our fair city and bring in the thrill seekers who will love our roads. Instead of plowing the occasional road, let’s admit we’re not capable of it, and turn the lemons of dangerous driving into the sweet frozen lemonade of opportunity.

Or we can ask the city to Clear The Roads!

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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