February 18 – Alicia Shoults, Ohio Expo Center & State Fair

Scripps PRSSA was more than pleased to welcome Alicia Shoults, the marketing and public relations director for the Ohio Expo Center & State Fair to speak to the Chapter.


As marketing and public relations director for the Ohio Expo Center & State Fair, Alicia Shoults is the jack-of-all-trades who oversees all of the company’s marketing, advertising, public relations and social media efforts. Whether she is helping to strategically position the brand, toying with the latest marketing technique, or navigating through a crisis in the national spotlight, Alicia is calm, dedicated, and eternally optimistic.

Alicia is engaged in both public relations and the fair industry. She currently serves as president of Central Ohio Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)’s board of directors and is actively involved with the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE). She graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in strategic communication and political science, and holds the Certified Fair Executive (CFE) designation for professional achievement in fair management

Here are some takeaways:

  • The Ohio Expo Center and State Fair is actually a government agency that touches on travel and tourism, hospitality and events and concerts.
  • Demographics statistics derived from concert tickets can tell us a lot about our audience. Usually 33% of tickets sell on the day of release, 33% in the month following and 33% in the final week before the show. If a show falls off this pattern we’re able to look into what might have gone wrong and fix it next time.

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  • Most visitors to your website are doing it on mobile. In 2017, 67% of our website visitors were seeing us on a tablet or phone.
  • The challenge of coming up with powerful images or videos are a key to being successful in the digital marketing sphere.
  • It is hard to get away from television when the older audiences are still there. It gets even more complicated when it comes to budgets for social media and alternative forms of marketing.

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  • Stories are everything and should be versatile. You want to create unique stories that can be translated to different social media formats and reach different audiences.
  • Crisis communications doesn’t happen only during the fair, because this field of work is also very much a convention center.
  • Planning ahead to receive positive PR during the anniversary’s of tragedies or past crises is one strategy to reputation management.

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  • Influencer marketing is wonderful. By providing influencers open access to all the fair’s amenities, they share content that attracts followers to come themselves.
  • Locating influencers depends on your capabilities. Some companies provide databases of influencers, but this can be very expensive and also not every influencer might be on the database.
  • For something like the Ohio State Fair, family-related influencers are a go-to, because we can offer them an OSF family package experience that translates to their audience’s lifestyles as well.




Cade Fleming is a senior Journalism-Strategic Communication major and current Scripps PRSSA VP of PR. Keep up with him on Twitter @cade_fleming

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