This article, written by Dan Hakes, about Angel Fire Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Jo Mixon, is the feature front page article in the July, 2014 issue of the National Chamber Executive Network Newsletter. We wanted to share it with you because it has put Angel Fire in the national chamber spotlight!
“I Know Jo, Do You?”
When Jo Mixon took over the Angel Fire (New Mexico) Chamber three years ago, she says the first message from her board of directors was, in plain language: “We need a kick in the butt and we don’t have any money.” With her artistic eye and background in retail and health care marketing, Mixon immediately launched a feature series on the Chamber’s eBlast and website she titled “I Know Jo.” She visits a Chamber member business, interviews the owner, takes lots of photos and comes up with an interesting profile piece which attracts attention.
The theme is “I know Jo, Do You?” An example might be “Angel Fire Home Care Knows Jo, Do You?”
“I’m not a writer – I just do it,” she says, but her features have a writer’s flare. For example, she recently started one with “I can now say I’m a full-fledged Enchanted Circle Pottery Dirt Diva!” That was after she spent six hours in protective gear (photo below) working the kiln at a local pottery business, which she documented by publishing no less than 21 interesting photos on the website.
She began another feature with “Wow-oh-wow-oh- wow has Angel Fire Resort come flying into the field of technology!” She then cited the resort’s new GPS tracking system for ski and snowboard students which offers an “unprecedented level of safety.”
You can examine the continuing series for yourself at ww.angelfirechamber.org by clicking on the “I Know Jo” button. “I considered that it might be a risk for me to promote my own name so much in this series as the Chamber’s executive director,” she says. “In fact, I really don’t even like to have my photo taken. But I see it as a way to get to know my members as well as promote them. I want this Chamber to personalize the membership. And as the exec, if you physically walk in the door and don’t ask for money but give them free publicity instead, it builds a better relationship.”
She thinks the feature series alone has helped boost the Chamber – which was on the verge of closing – to becoming a vibrant player in the community, with a membership now at about 200. “I’ve actually had people join the Chamber because of these features,” she says. “If I don’t publish one for awhile, I hear about it on the street.” Her board will even get involved in an upcoming “I Know Jo” outing when the group tests river rafting.
Mixon agrees that Chamber execs who lack hands-on writing/photography skills might search for a retired local newspaper or marketing person or who could be pressed into service in return for free coffee or a membership. Since the features are on line, there is practically unlimited space available to tell a Chamber member’s story in words and pictures. “I tell my members to invite me to their business, market to me like a customer and tell me something nobody knows about their place,” she says. “I also tell them to put me to work. I am learning all kinds of trades through this series. It’s been great all the way around.”