However they do it, organizers of the regional marketing campaign plan to do a lot of talking to the public in year three of the effort.
“One of the real important things that came out of our conversation ... is public relations, or PR, has to be a part of this,” Mary Cohen, executive director of the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce, said Wednesday during a meeting with the city’s Marketing Committee. “Going forward, that has to be on our plate.”
Cohen said recent announcements about positive changes in the real estate market and crime rate were examples of what the group wanted to do more of. Alderman Chris Ettori, the committee chairman, said he thought the Marketing Committee could help figure out “more strategic ways” of putting out such information.
“In particular, I don’t think we do a good job of letting people know what the city is doing,” he said.
Cohen said organizers of the campaign, which is being run jointly by the chamber and the Rutland Economic Development Corp., have discussed the multi-year effort’s future since the announcement late last year that the advertising firm they were working with, Mondo Mediaworks, was pulling out of its contract early. Mayor David Allaire said the loss of Mondo did not seem to hurt the project’s momentum and that it was good that organizers were communicating with the public.
“This is very difficult to quantify,” he said. “Somebody is going to say, ‘How many people have moved here?’ It’s a 10-year plan.”
Allaire said he thought the news regarding the real estate market and crime rate were a good start to the PR efforts.
“That tells another component of the story we’re trying to tell,” he said. “We did that all in-house and it didn’t cost anything.”
Cohen said they are discussing whether they want to hire one firm to manage the entire campaign or multiple niche firms to handle different parts of it. She said some of the companies that responded to the initial request for proposals had reached out since the Mondo announcement, and that they were working on a one-page “mini-RFP.” She said organizers are also working on more fundraising.
“We raised $38,000 from municipalities last year,” she said. “This year we’re anticipating a little bit more. ... We are obviously engaging the business community again.”
Cohen said organizers have asked participating municipalities for $1 per person in town. With the city, she said, they have rounded that up to $16,000. The committee voted unanimously to recommend the Board of Aldermen allocate that amount from the Zamias Fund.
Cohen said the campaign is seeking to build on the success of the Stay to Stay program, in which specific weekends are scheduled during which out-of-town visitors are matched with locals who can tell them about employment, cultural and other opportunities in the region, by adding a similarly organized “Ski to Stay” program.
“We’re lucky in that we have a lot of advocates,” she said. “I don’t want to use the word ‘formalizing,’ but we are making sure the network is strong.”