The Dem-Gaz continues to look at the kerfuffle over celebrity gardener and “influencer” (a term of art in marketing) P. Allen Smith’s demand that the state pay $845,000 for his services in spreading the word about Arkansas. Turns out ad firm CJRW agrees with client Stacy Hurst, secretary for the new department of Parks, Heritage and Heritage, that Smith’s work doesn’t merit the huge increase from his current subcontracted fee, $200,000. Hurst said as much to legislators who grilled her this week at a hearing before the House and Senate committees on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs.
Smith’s request to be paid more got a lot of ink today and yesterday in the Dem-Gaz, likely because the significant legislative interest in giving Smith what he wants is curious. Sen. Mark Johnson (R-Little Rock) and Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale) expressed concern at the hearing that Smith would up stakes and abandon his Moss Mountain Farm entertainment venue in Roland, and his promotional activities, for a better deal in other states.
Smith did say he would not be interested in continuing to provide the level of service he now gives the state — programming on the attractions of Arkansas on his social media — for $200,000 at Wednesday’s legislative hearing, and in today’s article in the daily paper was quoted, “I have no interest in working with the agency of record for $200,000. It’s gone on far too long. They can take it.” P. Allen Smith Garden Home has worked for the state for eight years.