Chamber of Commerce hires PR firm to raise Island profile

JULIE LANE PHOTO Shelter Island Chamber of Commerce President Art Williams and the Chamber’s new publicist Susie Dempsey Halloran of Starlet PR.
Shelter Island Chamber of Commerce President Art Williams and the Chamber’s new publicist Susie Dempsey Halloran of Starlet PR.

The Shelter Island Chamber of Commerce has a new voice to spread the word that the Island is a tourism destination.

The voice is public relations guru Susie Dempsey Halloran of Island based-Starlet PR, a company that already represents many Island businesses. But this year she’s also on board representing the chamber and its approximately 115 member businesses.

The chamber brought Ms. Halloran aboard in January. Chamber President Art Williams declined to say how much the PR firm was being paid to represent the chamber.

In years past, the chamber had to concentrate a lot of its energy on raising money and planning for the Island’s annual Fourth of July fireworks program that had become a beloved tradition, Mr. Williams said. While everyone loved the fireworks, he and the membership recognized there was more they wanted to do that was being shut out because of a lack of time and money.

“The tail was wagging the dog,” he said.

A community group stepped up to take over responsibility for the fireworks show, freeing the chamber to stretch its muscles in other directions.

“We’re not polishing a diamond in the rough,” Ms. Halloran said, noting she’s spent a lot of time here since she was a child.

“It makes my job easy,” she said about convincing people to regard the Island as a destination when considering an East End vacation. Besides getting stories about what’s happening here in Harpers Bazaar, Good Housekeeping, “BELLA New York Magazine, Country Living, Huffington Post, Purewow and the Tasting Table, she’s represented her clients locally, promoting ideas to Times Review Media Group’s northforker online edition, the Sag Harbor Express, and KD Hamptons.

Ms. Halloran has also used social media extensively — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — to spread word of activities on the Island.

“I think it’s working,” Mr. Williams said.

Ms. Halloran and Mr. Williams spoke about two events coming up this month:

The Sixth annual Duck Race at noon Sunday, August 20, at Volunteer Park on Bridge Street and the 54th annual Arts Show and Crafts Fair on the grounds of Shelter Island School on Saturday, August 26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Other events throughout the year are the First annual Business of the Year Awards Dinner; the holiday tree lighting in the Center; the Decorate Your Door, Store or More; and the Annual Stroll/Drive the Island.

Upcoming will be the chamber’s participation in a film about East End destinations being produced with a $275,000 New York grant.

The chamber hasn’t been idle since it gave up the fireworks, Mr. Williams noted, raising money to support other Island projects such as the chamber’s contribution of $35,000 to the bathroom to be installed soon at Volunteer Park.