For the second year in a row, the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) slices through the competition to find out which local pie is primo

KING OF PRUSSIA, PA – Montco’s Best Pizza Tourney is back!

This time last spring, when its social media pages got oven-hot with reactions to a list of recommended pizza shops, the VFTCB turned over the content to its social media channels. The tourism board launched a bracketed competition – March Madness-style – pitting 32 pizza palaces against each other.

Zach Brown (l), VFTCB Online Marketing/Research Manager, presents last year’s winner, Pete Chiaro, with his marketing kit, one of 64 that went to the participating pizzarias countywide.. Online voting for the 2017 Montco’s Best Pizza Tournament at valleyforge.org ends April 2.

The field was eventually winnowed to an elite eight, then a final four and when the championship was finally determined, Chiaro’s Pizzeria & Restaurant, Green Lane, was crowned the local prince of pies.

“The reaction was huge,” says Ed Harris, VFTCB Vice President of Marketing and Communications. “People were very passionate about their neighborhood shops. The discussion even diverted a bit into a very active debate on tomato pie.”

That detour came about when VFTCB followers grappled with whether this doughy, saucy, crusty concoction constituted pizza.

Overwhelmingly, the response was that it did not, so the competition continued on without it.

“This year, we’ve widened the field,” Harris explains. “We now feature 64 shops – taken from hundreds of nominees – that cover the county geographically. Voting started March 1, and more than a thousand pizza fans have already voted. After just one day!”

All votes are cast online.

The tournament leverages the VFTCB’s considerable social media reach. Last year, the VFTCB saw an upswing in social media-driven click throughs to its website, which surged more than 1,000 percent over the course of the year. The best-pizza topic reached more than 400,000 people on Facebook, and its associated YouTube videos were watched more than 80,000 times.

Contents of the Playmaker Pie, a collection of marketing collateral designed to help the participating pizzarias win the 2017 Montco’s Best Pizza Tournament. The contents included magnets for customers and voter-reminders to attach to customer checks.

The Marketing and Communications successes caught the eye of several third-party industry awards organizations. Pizza, the simplest of dishes, earned three awards by firms that included PR News, a best-practice publisher with editorial offices in New York.

This year again features video and online content. But each of the 64 contenders was also given a marketing kit, delivered by hand in a carton that resembled a personal pizza box. Inside were giveaway magnets, a pad of tear-off voting requests (to accompany customers’ checks) and a copy of Crave, the VFTCB’s award-winning dining guide.

The 2017 Montco Best Pizza Tournament closes April 2. Once results are tabulated, the winner will receive a trophy that comprises an engraved plaque mounted on a wooden pizza paddle.

“As we did last year, we still view this as a great support to mom-and-pop entrepreneurs across Montgomery County,” concludes Harris. “They may not have the budgets or resources to really make advances with their marketing, so this is a great assist to them.

“Plus it’s fun. The public loves it; the staff loves it; the pizzarias love it. Everybody loves pizza.”

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The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) is a nonprofit, membership-based sales and marketing organization that actively promotes Valley Forge and Montgomery County, Pa., as a convention site and leisure visitor destination by encouraging patronage of its 400-plus member hotels, restaurants, attractions and services. The Board’s award-winning website, valleyforge.org, serves visitors, meeting planners, tour operators and residents, as well as hosts The Pursuit, a nationally recognized blog. The VFTCB oversees a portfolio of brands that include Valley Forge SportsMontco 360Destination Montco Weddings, Patriot Trails and Destination Montco Golf. It is also the publisher of the new dining magazine Crave, issued twice yearly.