Two seasoned professionals spoke with PRSSA students on Oct. 1 relaying their part in The Cleveland Comeback Story.
Positively Cleveland Communications Manager Jennifer Kramer has more than 10 years of experience in the communications field. President of Regional Marketing Alliance for Cleveland Plus Rick Batyko has more than 20 years of experience working with Fortune 100 and non-profits clients.
Kramer offered detailed insights into the deep research and strategic thinking that goes into developing a campaign to rebrand an entire city.
"We want people to come here. So, we have to go about it strategically," Kramer said.
Positively Cleveland conducted extensive, exhaustive research and planning efforts for about three years before launching the campaign in 2014. After conducting focus groups and interviewing a myriad of people, Kramer said the organization learned four things.
Kramer and her team set out to tackle these four research insights by established goals, such as treating Cleveland as a branded product, enhancing visitor experiences and changing the narrative about Cleveland as a visitor destination.
The result was three different brand campaigns targeting specific publics: "And for That You're Welcome" for the leisure visitor, "World-Class Experiences Without the World-Class Ego" for meeting visitors and "#ThisisCLE" for locals.
"We have passion beyond anything else. We needed to create a platform for that passion," Kramer said.
The campaigns have only been live since March and have already garnered significant attention.
Batyko discussed how he markets all of Northeast Ohio to attract businesses from different regions to relocate to the area. He focuses much of his time on national and international business media to get positive stories placed about Northeast Ohio.
"We try to attract companies to move here and create jobs so they can hire you," Batyko said, addressing the group.
Batyko emphasized, much like Kramer, that research was key to Cleveland Plus' formation and initial branding. He and his team conducted a year's worth of research before launching the brand circling Northeast Ohio in a 737 jet.
"You don't just do these things. It takes time," Batyko said. "We knew it had to be Cleveland because Cleveland has a lot of equity."
Social media has been useful for Batyko's efforts. Cleveland Plus posts a lot of quality of life material to its nearly 40-thousand followers.
Breaking into the industry
Kramer and Batyko concluded their talk with advice for up-and-coming public relations and communications professionals.
"Public relations is really important work, and we need more of it in this world," Batyko said. "This region is blessed with some amazing marketing, public relations and communications talent. It amazes me how there seems to be a wall between us, sometimes. You guys can’t imagine how many professionals would be thrilled to get an email from you. I would be stunned if almost anybody in this region wouldn’t say yes [to helping you]."
The group asked both professionals for their best tips for landing an internship.
"Always be prepared with questions to ask at the end [of an interview]. Make them good questions. Don’t be afraid to ask a different question. 'How can I grow in this organization?' 'What’s the trajectory for someone like me?' I want to see that you’re invested in the organization," Kramer said.
"We all have big egos in this area. Ask that person all about their career, and be amazed at every answer. Study the organization. It’s okay to do a non-paid internship if you like the company. Really work the ego angle really hard. If you show an interest in that person, odds are they’ll show an interest in you," Batyko said.
PRSSA Kent's next general meeting will feature Melt Bar and Grilled owner Matt Fish discussing the value of PR. The meeting begins Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m.