Athens Area Chamber of Commerce Public Relations Plan


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A public relations plan I wrote with three colleagues and are currently implementing.

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Athens Area Chamber of Commerce Public Relations Plan

  1. 1. Situation Analysis A Challenge The mission of Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, a non-profit organization serving 475 member businesses, is to facilitate a strong business climate and to foster community well-being in Athens County. A two-person staff, consisting of President Wendy Jakmas and Office Project Manager Dawn Worley-Sims, carries out the Chamber’s purpose, which also includes promoting members’ businesses, encouraging “buy local” initiatives and providing business support services. In keeping with these roles, hosting and attending area events is a large portion of the Chamber staff’s focus and workload. Networking events, including bi-weekly “Business After Hours,” play a strong role in the Chamber’s communication process with clients. Additionally, participating in popular county and university events such as charity functions (Lace Up For Kids by Athens County Children Services, Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, etc.), Bobcat Student Orientation and sponsor events (Ohio Forensic Team tournaments) is an important promotional tool for the Chamber. In order to keep businesses updated about membership information and event updates, the Chamber staff releases a monthly newsletter called the “ChamberGram.” The most recent ChamberGram included information about the Chamber’s new “buy local” initiative - launched during the 2009 holiday season to encourage local shopping. This campaign incorporated the Chamber’s commitment to green practices by developing and selling 100 percent biodegradable promotional carrying bags. Aside from its commitment to green initiatives, the Chamber’s other branding efforts include the creation of a new logo and tagline for 2010: “Support Businesses That Support You.” This re- branding has yet to take full effect, as the Chamber has not updated its Web site or social media sites with the new design. The Chamber wishes to continue facilitating a support network for local businesses, and it would like to substantially increase both support of its members’ businesses and awareness of its role in the community. However, a few challenges stand in the Chamber’s path to optimum success. One of the Chamber’s most critical challenges is operating with such a small staff. The two- person staff can yield a total of only 80-120 work each week. Given this lack of (wo)manpower, the Chamber is focusing on executing tasks on the tactical level, rather than spending its limited resources on the sometimes demanding chore of brainstorming, planning, and bringing long-term strategic goals to fruition. Another challenge for the Chamber is the lack of coordination amongst other area organizations with similar goals. The Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau is debuting a savings passport card called “Rediscover Athens” in May 2010. This program has not been presented to the Chamber, suggesting a general lack of cohesiveness between Athens County’s business organizations that are aiming for similar goals. Bradley, Grimmelsman, Kralik, Maxwell
  2. 2. An Opportunity The Chamber is located in the predominantly rural Athens County. The majority of its member businesses are located within the city of Athens, which holds the largest residential population in the county. However, a large portion of this population is comprised of temporary residents who come to Athens because of the presence of Ohio University. Ohio University boasts more than 17,000 students at its main campus in Athens. It is important to note that, while the individual students may live in Athens only temporarily, there is a steady influx of students to maintain this population size. So, though these students may be in Athens County for only about four to five years, this audience is of a consistent population and is an untapped potential the Chamber has struggled to reach effectively in the past. Upon conducting a survey of 100 Ohio University students, 66 percent of students said they had heard of the Chamber. However, more than 70 percent responded that they do not have an accurate idea of what the Chamber’s duties are. Seventy percent of those surveyed said they are not knowledgeable about the benefits of shopping locally; thus, they have no knowledge to actively make an effort to shop at local businesses, often choose choosing to shop online or travel outside the county to larger cities to meet their needs. However, of the students surveyed, 51 percent said they feel that it is at least somewhat to very important to them that the Athens business community thrives economically. This presents the Chamber with the opportunity to convince the other half of the student body of how the economic welfare of the community does impact their daily lives. Furthermore, the results of recent statewide elections prove Athens County residents’ interest in environmental legislation, including voting down a controversial issue about livestock regulation and passing issues advocating for clean coal, to name a few. Athens is also home to hundreds of environmental and sustainability organizations, such as the Ohio Green Network, Sierra Club and the Appalachian Peace & Justice Network. Because of these factors, county residents may be more apt to support “buy local” or green campaigns. We believe that the untapped potential of the large student population and the environmentally conscience nature of the Athens County residential community makes for a perfect opportunity to implement a strategic plan. We also think it is a great time for a “buy local” campaign because of “green” trends becoming so mainstream in today’s culture. Goal For the Athens County and Ohio University communities to be regarding the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce as a leading member of the Athens business community in order to promote patronization of member business and to foster community well-being. Bradley, Grimmelsman, Kralik, Maxwell
  3. 3. Target Audiences Audience 1: Ohio University Affiliates Ohio University’s students and faculty comprise 30 percent of Athens County’s population, making this audience vital for the public relations plan. Ohio University has more than 17,000 students, 5,000 full-time employees and nearly 1,000 full-time faculty members. Because Ohio University affiliates play such a powerful role economically in Athens County, it is important to address their needs with strategic messaging in the public relations plan. Thirty-one percent of Athens County residents are between the ages of 18-24. Our campaign must reflect this demographic’s preferences, media and otherwise. According to a recent Burst media study, college students prefer to be reached through the Internet instead of through television or radio. More than 50 percent of these students spend about 20 hours a week online; thus, the Chamber, which already disseminates messages through electronic newsletters, will need to expand its online presence in order to cater to the needs of this substantial audience. Also noted in the Burst study, college students spend $250 a month on personal items; less than 25 percent of said dollars are spent online, with the rest being spent physically in stores. When asked how these students choose what and which kinds of things to buy, 70 percent of them admitted that their choice is based solely on the lowest cost. This plan will encourage students to spend more of their monthly budget at local businesses. Because their money is already predominantly spent in stores, this behavior change will not be too drastic. In fact, the biggest challenge may be convincing students to keep their spending dollars in Athens County instead of traveling to shopping malls in Columbus or Parkersburg, West Virginia. The average income of university students is dramatically less than the poverty level, so targeting the higher-earning staff and faculty could make a greater financial impact to local businesses. More than 75 percent of Athens County residents travel fewer than 30 minutes to work each day, which means they are already spending much of their time inside the county. Encouraging this financially powerful group to shop locally, because they are already physically local, could lead to a meaningful boost to local business. By convincing Athens County residents to shift even just 10 percent of their spending to local markets, the result would mean more jobs, lower residential taxes and higher property values, which would benefit both students and Athens County residents. Audience 2: Athens County Residential Community Approximately 115 – or 25 percent – of the Chamber’s member businesses are outside of Athens’ city limits, located across the county in towns like the Plains, Nelsonville and Albany. Therefore, it is important to remember the Chamber’s scope reaches beyond Athens City limits. According to the 2000 Census, 27,685 people live in the townships surrounding Athens city, and Athens city has a population of 21,342. Thus, although a large population is centered in Athens, county residents are still fairly dispersed throughout the county. Because of this, the new Chamber campaign should include businesses located in “remote” areas. Likewise, the new campaign should not ignore citizens living outside of Athens city. Bradley, Grimmelsman, Kralik, Maxwell
  4. 4. Southeastern Ohio is often viewed as a poverty stricken area, so money is an important factor to take into account in the new plan. The median household income in Athens County is $20,665, which is far below the national average of $60,374. The Chamber’s public relations plan needs to take into account that money is limited for most Athens County residents, which suggests that financial incentives will be important for a successful plan. Also, as a whole, the county has voted outside of national and state trends, as well as favoring legislation in support of environmental issues. According to the office of the Secretary of State, in the 2009 state elections, Athens County was the only county in Ohio to vote against Issue 2, a proposal to create a regulatory board for livestock agriculture. In the 2008 election, Athens County residents passed statewide issues (such as support for the Clean Ohio program for environmental revitalization and an amendment to the Ohio Constitution to protect private property rights and water) with a majority vote, according to the Athens County Board of Elections. This is important information for the Chamber because it means residents may be more willing to support “buy local” or green lifestyle messaging campaigns. Taking into account Athens County’s population statistics, income and citizens’ views, the new plan must be comprehensive in nature and truly understand the area’s permanent residents to really impact all Chamber businesses and, eventually, the county as a whole. Audience 3: Athens County Chamber Members The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce is currently composed of 475 members, including Athens County businesses both large and small: big-box stores, boutiques, banks, credit unions, at-home businesses and even private individuals. Four committees make up the Chamber: the Athens Uptown Business Association (AUBA), the Ambassador Club, the Promotions and Special Events Committee and the Athens County Business Education Partnership (ACBEP). The AUBA is a subsidy of the Chamber and focuses on commerce in uptown Athens. The Ambassador Club coordinates volunteers for Chamber events. The Promotions and Special Events Committee promotes Chamber events and special activities in the county. And, the ACBEP works to link the human resources of area businesses, government agencies and service organizations with local schools to meet student and staff needs. Benefits of Chamber membership include networking events, health insurance, workers’ compensation program at premium group savings, referrals and numerous marketing and promotional opportunities. Despite these numerous opportunities to grow and work together as a community, there is always room for improvement in member relations. While the Chamber does host events and provide members with various marketing opportunities, members have been known to become complacent, either by overlooking these benefits or feeling unmotivated to try new methods. The Chamber should more effectively encourage members to take advantage of these opportunities and to work together more closely. At first, it may seem easy to overlook the importance of targeting Chamber members, especially because they are already actively involved with the Chamber. However, by engaging Chamber members both more frequently and through the use of new methods, it is possible to forge a Bradley, Grimmelsman, Kralik, Maxwell
  5. 5. deeper sense of community. With a stronger sense of community and group identity amongst Chamber members, member businesses will enjoy an increase in both communication amongst the group and a willingness to help one another under the understanding that through solidarity, they can prosper. Audience 4: Athens County Visitors Athens County attracts many visitors each year because of its educational institutions, regional events and outdoor attractions. The county is adjacent to Hocking County, which is home to nine state parks and forests. In 2007, park officials estimated that nearly 3 million people visited Hocking County’s parks; this is a number of visitors too large for the Chamber to ignore. Because of this significant amount of visitors, the plan should take into account visitors’ impact and the potential opportunity this group presents. The Ohio Tourism Division estimates that more than 173 million trips were taken to Ohio or within Ohio, and it can be surmised that a large number of these trips were in the Athens County region due to the aforementioned attractions of the Hocking River Valley and Athens’ own strong regional tourism presence. For instance, in 2010, visitors will be coming to Athens County for various events: • Regional events: International Street Festival in Athens, Moonshine Festival in New Straitsville, 25th annual Poston Lake Bluegrass Festival in Guysville, Boogie on the Bricks Music Festival in Athens, 6th annual Nelsonville Music Festival featuring stars like Loretta Lynn • Special events/ large-scale events: Ohio Pawpaw Festival in Athens, Ohio Brew Week in Athens, Rotary District 6690 Annual Conference in Athens, Pelotonia 2010 (the annual cycling tour to raise awareness for cancer research that will depart from Athens and feature Lance Armstrong) In addition to these regional events, there are also a great variety of events at or sponsored by Ohio University, such as conferences, performing art events and commencement ceremonies. Studies from the Ohio Tourism Division also show that for every $1 invested in tourism marketing, $149 is generated in trip spending. Additionally, visitor expenditures in 2007 had an impact of $180.4 million in Hocking County alone; this resulted in $25.6 million in county taxes and employment of 982 people. Based on these numbers, it is important for the Chamber to address temporary visitors and tourists in its new messaging because this group can lend a significant boost to member businesses and, thus, the Athens County economy. Objectives Objective #1 (Ohio University Affiliates) To effectively communicate to Ohio University affiliates the Chamber’s dedication for supporting local business and to increase awareness of the economic and environmental benefits of shopping locally by five percent, to be measured by a second survey distributed after the campaign. Bradley, Grimmelsman, Kralik, Maxwell
  6. 6. Social Media Strategy: This strategy is designed to reach Ohio University affiliates through the medium that Burst media studies statistically prove as one of the most effective. The Chamber will update its current social media networks and pages to attract the attention of university students, faculty and staff. Messaging will be regarding discounted prices and Chamber events. The social media sites will serve as venues to promote the message “Support Businesses That Support You,” while communicating the importance and benefits of shopping locally. The tactics in the Social Media Strategy aim to inform students, faculty and staff about the role and benefits of the Chamber and to generate buzz about events and promotions. Tactics: 1. Revive the design and content of the Chamber’s current social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter. Update these pages on a daily basis with information such as news about Chamber businesses, promotions, event pictures and multimedia to keep readers interested. 2. Create a Ning account to display event and business photos, promotional videos and a blog to keep both Chamber businesses and Ohio University affiliates informed about Chamber happenings on a day-to-day basis. 3. Record and edit a promotional video to educate the Ohio University community about the purpose and importance of the Chamber. The video will be posted on the Chamber’s existing Youtube account. Also, Chamber businesses will be invited to upload their own videos to the account. Student and Faculty Organization Strategy: The Student and Faculty Organization Strategy is designed to engage groups on the Ohio University campus that are already most likely to support the Chamber. Because student and faculty organizations generally have a strong influence over their members, the Chamber will work with group leaders to offer special discounts and philanthropic opportunities. This will ideally create a mutually beneficial relationship between the organizations and the Chamber because the organizations will have access to businesses that are willing and ready to meet their needs. Meanwhile the Chamber will have the chance to promote local shopping, increase awareness of the benefits of keeping money local and increase understanding of the Chamber’s role in the community. By engaging these specific groups, it is possible to influence individuals who will consistently advocate for issues on behalf of the Chamber without pay. Tactics: 1. Draft a letter inviting student and faculty organizations to participate in discount or promotional fundraisers and philanthropic endeavors. The letter will stress the importance of mutual benefits between the organizations and Chamber businesses. 2. Draft another letter, once the groups have confirmed participation, to member businesses encouraging them to reach out to student and faculty organizations in order to promote the communal relationship between the Chamber and the community. Financial Incentive Strategy: This strategy is designed to motivate Ohio University affiliates to patronize Chamber businesses. The strategy takes into account the issue of high prices in today’s economy, which is the largest determining factor when deciding where to shop, according to the surveyed students. In partnership with participating local businesses, the Chamber will organize and promote a discount program to encourage local shopping, while removing the number one Bradley, Grimmelsman, Kralik, Maxwell
  7. 7. hindrance: slightly higher prices. The discount program will also work to spread awareness of the Chamber’s and the overall benefits of shopping local in Athens County. Tactics: 1. Create a virtual coupon book, comparable to the ones distributed at campus bookstores, featuring Chamber businesses. This virtual book will act as a directory and advertising for the Chamber. 2. Promote the virtual book through social media, press releases, ads in local newspapers and Ohio University student Web pages. Objective #2 (Athens County Residential Community) To effectively communicate to all residents of Athens County the Chamber’s dedication to businesses owned by Chamber members, “buy local” initiatives and the general promotion of the Athens County community to be measured by any change in the number of customers visiting the social media sites and spending money at Chamber businesses. Media Strategy: In order to foster an optimal communication exchange, the Media Strategy is designed to establish a working relationship with the local media outlets. The Chamber will prepare press materials for the media in order to provide concise and accurate information about the Chamber’s role in the community. Additionally, the Chamber will pay for advertising spots in these same local media outlets. Key messages will be clearly articulated, placing special emphasis on the Chamber’s new tagline: “Support Businesses That Support You.” A media strategy is crucial in order to effectively reach the Athens County residential community because this audience is geographically fractured and relies heavily on traditional media as its main source of information. Tactics: 1. Place advertising, highlighting the Chamber’s new logo and tagline, in area newspapers. This will represent an effort by the Chamber to streamline its new image and the direction it is seeking to take for member businesses. 2. Create a media kit for Athens County news outlets. The kit will include a news release about upcoming sponsored events, a fact sheet on the history and prominence of the Chamber and a copy of the member directory. The media kit will be available in both print and digital formats. The digital format will be posted to the Chamber’s Web site. Seasonal Event Strategy: The Seasonal Event Strategy is designed to increase the reputation and visibility of the Chamber throughout Athens County. The Chamber will choose one to three events per year to host in order to solidify its brand and prominence within the Athens residential community. The goal will be to host these events on an annual basis in order to create and solidify community awareness and recognition of the Chamber and its member businesses. Tactics: 1. Host a family-friendly “Chamber Crawl” event on a spring weekend. Athens lacks family- friendly, city-wide street festivals in the springtime, when compared to summer events like Ohio Brew Week or Boogie on the Bricks. The event will feature samples from local restaurants and heavy signage displaying the Chamber’s logo, promoting itself as the event’s sponsor. Uptown Chamber members will be invited to host an event within their business; for example, a retail Bradley, Grimmelsman, Kralik, Maxwell
  8. 8. store may offer hor’dorvres, displays and discounts, while a restaurant/bar may offer a discounted drink and specialty dishes. The event will encourage community members to experience the uniqueness of uptown Athens and promote the importance of the Chamber and shopping local. The idea will be pitched to the Athens Uptown Business Association February 10 during its monthly meeting. 2. Hold seasonal window decoration contests on Halloween and Christmas. A Halloween event will recognize Athens’ annual block party, reminding the Athens community to purchase their holiday needs at local businesses. Likewise, a Christmas contest will solidify the Chamber’s previous “buy local” Christmas shopping campaigns and encourage residents to shop locally during the gift-giving season. Residents will be asked to go online to the Chamber’s site to vote for a winning storefront display. Chamber-Member Distinction Strategy: This strategy is designed to distinguish Chamber members from non-members in the eyes of the Athens County residential community. This is important because many community members do not make this distinction when deciding in which stores to shop. The Chamber will enable customers to distinguish between Chamber businesses and non-Chamber businesses by strongly encouraging Chamber businesses to display the “Support Businesses That Support You” sticker in their stores. Tactics: 1. Emphasize the need for member businesses to display the logo sticker in their store windows and near the cash register so that the Chamber is solidified in customers’ minds. 2. Distribute monthly incentives like free pizza to participating businesses’ employees, free advertising in the ChamberGram, etc., to reward businesses that display the Chamber’s brand. Objective #3 (Athens County Chamber Members) To actively engage Chamber members to work in unison in order to establish a deeper sense of community and a common goal to be measured by the number of businesses and frequency of their participation in Chamber initiatives. Community Building Strategy: The Community Building Strategy is designed to forge a stronger sense of unity and shared purpose amongst Chamber members. Included in this strategy will be efforts to privately engage individual members in order to strengthen ties between the Chamber and its members, as well as efforts to influence the entire group to cooperate at a higher level of involvement. Community leaders that are Chamber members must be targeted. By practice and through rhetoric, they can set the example for other Chamber members. Also, it will be necessary to stress the concepts of unity and cooperation during Chamber events and networking opportunities. Tactics: 1. Emphasize the community of the Chamber businesses through organizational publications (like the ChamberGram,) the Web site, social networking accounts and e-mail. 2. Issue a letter to member businesses stating the reasoning behind the brand redesign. The letter will also stress the importance of displaying the logo within businesses. 3. Identify community leaders within the Chamber and personally contact them, stressing to them the importance of participation in Chamber events and promotions. Bradley, Grimmelsman, Kralik, Maxwell
  9. 9. Materials and Marketing Strategy: The Materials and Marketing Strategy is designed to encourage meaningful communication amongst Chamber members and to give them a medium through which to communicate. This strategy relies more on taking specific, concrete actions and less on changing behavior and perception. By taking advantage of social media both more frequently and by using new methods, Chamber members can communicate with each other about fundraisers, events and topics of mutual concern. Opportunities to market for Chamber members such as the “Best News Tip of the Week” promotion, ChamberGram advertising and advertising in the Membership Directory need to still be encouraged; however, new tactics must be implemented. Many of the Chamber’s past materials fail to break out and reach those who might not usually pick up Chamber materials. Tactics: 1. Utilize the established social networking sites along with the new Ning site to serve as a forum for Chamber members to communicate. The sites will also serve as a tool to promote the businesses and upcoming events. 2. Invited Chamber members to participate in the “Best News Tip of the Week.” It will serve as a useful business tool to express fresh business development tips for Chamber members to share with one another. This forum will create a sense of unity and enforce a communal relationship in which everyone benefits. 3. Continue to issue the ChamberGram on a monthly basis to keep all businesses up-to-date on Chamber activities. The tool also works to advertise for local businesses. 4. Issue statements to be read during Committee meetings that stress the importance of unity and co-dependence amongst Chamber Members. Objective #4 (Athens County Visitors) To effectively communicate to visitors of Athens County the Chamber’s dedication to businesses owned by Chamber members, the benefits of “buying local” and the general promotion of the Athens County community to be measured by any change in the amount of customers visiting and spending at Chamber businesses. Personal Outreach Strategy: The Personal Outreach Strategy is designed to increase visibility of the Chamber to Athens County visitors through methods that have a personal touch. The Chamber will establish a presence at local and regional events in Athens County to disseminate information and collateral to promote its member businesses and its “buy local” initiative, as well as to gather feedback from customers. This strategy is important because, without it, the roughly 3 million annual visitors to the region will not be aware of the positive reciprocity that they can bring into effect. Tactics: 1. Make contacts with the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well as adjacent counties’ offices, such as the Hocking County Visitors Bureau. It should be established that these bureaus and the Chamber will work together toward the same goal of attracting customers. 2. Establish a presence through hosting a booth or sponsoring signage at local events (like the International Street Fair in Athens) and regional events (like the Ohio Pawpaw Festival). Chamber employees will be available to answer questions, distribute information about the virtual coupon book and stress the importance of shopping at member businesses. Bradley, Grimmelsman, Kralik, Maxwell
  10. 10. 3. Distribute reusable jute bags at events and at popular shopping districts, such as Court Street or Nelsonville’s Historic Square, to encourage visitors to shop at local businesses. Online Strategy: The Chamber reports receiving many telephone calls from visitors inquiring about restaurants to eat at or hotels to stay in, for example. The Chamber currently has its membership directory available on its Web site; however, this is the extent of information available for visitors. The Chamber will mobilize this missing link by establishing a more developed area of its Web site related to tourism attractions. Additionally, the Chamber will take this a step further by including information about the importance of supporting community business and making visitors aware of the potential impact they can have within the community on their visit. Tactics: 1. Ensure the online directory is clear and searchable for visitors to utilize. 2. Draft an educational message to post alongside the directory, which will establish the importance of visitors shopping locally. 3. Create a more developed portion of the Web site about Athens County’s tourism attractions. Evaluation Objective #1 (Ohio University Affiliates) To effectively communicate to Ohio University affiliates the Chamber’s dedication for supporting local business and to increase awareness of the economic and environmental benefits of shopping locally by five percent, to be measured by a second survey distributed after the campaign. Assessment: The Chamber will measure the success of the Ohio University objective by reissuing an identical survey to students at the end of the campaign initiatives to see if awareness of the purpose of the Chamber and the benefits of shopping locally increase by five percent. Success will also be gauged by the popularity of the social media sites and the participation rates of student and faculty organizations. Objective #2 (Athens County Residential Community) To effectively communicate to all residents of Athens County the Chamber’s dedication to businesses owned by chamber members, “buy local” initiatives/programming and the general promotion of the Athens County community to be measured by any change in the amount of customers visiting and spending at chamber businesses. Assessment: The Chamber will measure the success of the Athens County Residential Community objective by measuring participation and attendance at the window display and ”Chamber Crawl” events. This measurement will determine the success of the events. Ultimately, however, the success of this objective will be gauged by changes in Web site traffic and customer spending at member businesses. Objective #3 (Athens County Chamber Members) To actively engage Chamber members to work in unison in order to establish a deeper sense of community and common goal to be measured by the number of businesses and frequency of their Bradley, Grimmelsman, Kralik, Maxwell
  11. 11. participation in Chamber initiatives. Assessment: This objective will be measured by the participation rates of Chamber businesses in financial incentive initiatives, social media communication and special events. If many businesses participate, the Chamber will know if they should continue this method of community building. Objective #4 (Athens County Visitors) To effectively communicate to visitors of Athens County the Chamber’s dedication to businesses owned by chamber members, the benefits of “buying local” and the general promotion of the Athens County community to be measured by any change in the amount of customers visiting and spending at chamber businesses. Assessment: The success of this objective will be measured by the feedback generated by visitors. The Chamber will analyze the nature of comments and questions received from visitors at events. Additionally, the Chamber will analyze the response, whether positive or negative, of the Web site updates. Timeline Week of February 1-7 • Send professional business letter to Chamber members inviting them to submit a discount coupon for the virtual coupon book. • Draft letter for student and faculty organizations that describes the purpose of the Chamber and importance of shopping locally, as well as inviting them to participate in philanthropic efforts and Chamber events. • Make contact with Athens County Visitors’ Bureau to establish a relationship and discuss the business plan and possible collaboration. Week of February 8-14 • Continue creating virtual discount book; due date for business response is February 12. • Begin updating Twitter and Facebook accounts, beginning with changing the name of the Facebook page to “Athens Area Chamber of Commerce.” • Create a schedule to continuously update social media sites coordinated with events, “Business Tip of the Week” and weekly updates. • Create Ning site and designate blog writers. Invite Chamber businesses to submit blogs at will. • Begin filming promotional student video for YouTube account. • Invite Chamber members to submit promotional videos for the YouTube and Ning sites. • Contact Uptown Chamber members regarding “Chamber Crawl.” Begin coordinating event and choose spring weekend to host the event. • February 10, attend the Athens Uptown Business Association meeting at City Hall to pitch the Chamber Crawl idea and collect feedback. Week of February 15-21 • Create media kit for Athens news outlets promoting the virtual coupon book and new brand. • Purchase advertisement space in The Post. • Post digital format of media kit on Chamber’s Web site. • Launch promotional student video on YouTube and Ning. Promote the video through social media sites. Bradley, Grimmelsman, Kralik, Maxwell
  12. 12. • Send e-mail to participating businesses promoting the importance of participation in Chamber events, social media sites, “Business Tip of the Week” and display of logo. • Offer first incentive for Chamber businesses who display logo in the window. Week of February 22-28 • Choose a day of the week and location to distribute 25-30 jute Athens Chamber bags to promote the virtual coupon book and social media sites. • Remind businesses to continue submitting blog posts and business tips to social media sites. • Ensure the directory is clear and searchable for visitors to utilize. • Draft an educational message to post alongside the directory, which will establish the importance of visitors shopping locally. • Create a more developed portion of the Web site about Athens County’s tourism attractions. Week of March 1-7 • Continue updating social media sites, “Business Tip of the Week” and YouTube account. • Remind businesses to continue submitting blog posts and business tips to social media sites. • Finalize date for the Chamber Crawl, coordinate details and promotional efforts. Due date for Chamber business involvement registration will be March 3. • Finalize student/faculty organizations involvement with the Chamber. Create spreadsheet to designate type of involvement, along with what philanthropic efforts and if any money will be raised by the organizations. Week of March 8-12 • Finalize plans for the Chamber Crawl, designate planning committee and create promotional efforts. • Remind businesses to continue submitting blog posts and business tips to social media sites. • March 10, attend the Athens Uptown Business Association meeting at City Hall to confirm plans for the Chamber Crawl. • Distribute second survey to students to gauge results of campaign efforts. Estimated Budget Because the Chamber is a non-profit corporation, it has a very limited budget. The money the Chamber sets aside for marketing and advertising is already strained; therefore, a new public relations plan is especially important because it has the potential to act as “unpaid advertising” for the Chamber. 25-30 reusable jute bags (Previously purchased by the Chamber in 2009) $50 Once per week ads for a month in The Post (Ad revenue diverted to The Post, a different publication than normally sponsored) $160 Possible promotional printing fee $50 _____________________________________________________________________________ _ Total $260 Bradley, Grimmelsman, Kralik, Maxwell
  13. 13. Bradley, Grimmelsman, Kralik, Maxwell