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Providing information (and selling advertising)

By DAVE GUSSOW

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 22, 1999


Imagine you're a tourist in Sheboygan, Mich., or an entrepreneur in Trieste, Italy, who wants to know about St. Petersburg, Fla. So you follow up http:// with one of these Web addresses: cityofstpetersburg.com, saintpete.com, stpetersburgflorida.com and saintpetersburg.com.

Any of those addresses will take you to the same site -- and it isn't the one run by the city of St. Petersburg, the Chamber of Commerce or tourism officials. Those authoritative-sounding Web names take you to an enterprise run by Global Solutions of St. Petersburg. Michael Pirolo, the company's marketing manager, said the idea is to tout the area (and sell some advertising) and make it easier for people to find information (and sell some advertising).

"Basically, when I wanted to find out information as far as tourism for various cities in Florida, it was almost impossible to do," Pirolo said, "unless I spent a lot of time on the Internet."

Pirolo says Global has plans for similar sites for Lakeland, Orlando, Brandon and Bradenton, and is proceeding even though no official group from any area was interested in working with the company.

St. Petersburg already has an official presence on the Web to promote the city (http://www.stpete.org), as does the Chamber of Commerce (http://www.stpete.com).

The city's marketing director, Anita Treiser, laughed when she first heard the new Web addresses. "It does make it confusing for people on the Web, but you can't stop people from doing it," she said.

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