The Focus Group Announces Staff Addition; Growth into Hospitality and Tourism Sectors

GULFPORT, MS – The Focus Group, a full-service advertising and marketing agency, is pleased to announce an expansion of services to include work in regional and national tourism and hospitality sectors.

As of August 1, Renee Areng joined The Focus Group team as the new Vice President of Business Development. Areng brings more than 20 years of experience in the tourism sector, most recently as the Executive Director of Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast.

“I could not be more pleased to join the creative team at The Focus Group and continue to work in destination marketing and the tourism sector,” said Areng. “I look forward to promoting this award-winning agency and bringing new clients to their impressive portfolio of work.”

“The Focus Group has had great success marketing cities and destinations in Mississippi. With the addition of someone like Renee who has tremendous experience, industry knowledge and contacts, we are poised to be able to take our destination marketing talents regionally and nationally,” said Ceceila Shabazz, Creative Director.

Areng will be pursuing clients in the tourism sector, as well as in other key business sectors. She will also serve as a consultant on the agency’s existing tourism accounts that include the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association, Greenwood Convention and Visitors Bureau, Hattiesburg Zoo, City of Gulfport, City of Pascagoula, City of Diamondhead, Hancock Chamber of Commerce, Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce, and the new White Pillars restaurant.

Areng has been a Certified Destination Marketing Executive since 2007 and was instrumental in achieving accreditation and multiple awards, including Convention and Visitors Bureau of the Year in 2016, for Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast. She previously worked as Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Visit Baton Rouge, Convention Marketing Manager for the Lafayette Convention & Visitors Bureau, Executive Director and Special Projects Manager for the State of Louisiana Department of Employment and Training, and Staff Assistant to Congressman Jimmy Hayes.

Areng currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Tourism Association and the Infinity Science Center. She is a graduate of Leadership Jackson County and Leadership Hancock County. In 2017, she was selected as a participant in the Gulf Coast Business Council’s Master Class, was the recipient of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professional ‘Forever Young’ award, and 2017 nominee for a ‘One Coast’ leadership award. She is a graduate of the University of Southwestern Louisiana and resides in Pass Christian with her husband, Jason, and son, Nick.

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About The Focus Group

The Focus Group is an award-winning advertising agency based in Gulfport, Mississippi. Founded in 2010, the agency offers a full-range of services from traditional advertising to cutting edge digital marketing strategies to public relations. The agency has won over 100 ADDY awards at the local, regional and national level from the American Advertising Federation, along with multiple PRISM awards from the Mississippi and Southeastern Public Relations Associations. For more information about The Focus Group’s services and award-winning team, please call (228) 832-3667 or visit

For More Information:
Cecilia Shabazz, Creative Director – (228) 832-3667

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