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brand americaPlace branding has always been something of interest to me and, I am certain, to many other professional communicators.

In essence, it is the application of practiced and proven product and service branding princples and techniques to places – cities, states, regions and countries.

If you realize that a brand is a promise, then the promise of a place must address very basic requirements for people and the businesses they lead. 

A place must enable a business to succeed, enable its employees to address their personal and family needs, enable its residents or visitors to find happiness and fulfillment.  Of course, there’s more.  It’s never that simple.

A friend, Ed Burghard, has started a new venture called the Brand America Project.  Ed is a marketing pro with serious credentials, not the least of which being recognized as one of the premier brand leaders within Procter & Gamble.  In recent years, he has lead the Ohio Business Development Corporation.

He describes the Brand America Project below:

“The Strengthening Brand America Project vision is to generate the insight needed by state level economic development professionals to make better data based decisions on both public policy improvement and infrastructure investment required to ensure the state is competitive for FDI (foreign direct investment). Helping states become even more competitive will help strengthen Brand America. The more investment worthy our states are, the more FDI will be attracted to our country; and, the easier it will be to regain share leadership of global FDI.”

Go to Ed’s site (The Burghard Group) to learn more about the project.  In the process, you’ll see plenty to learn even more about place branding.  Visit Ed on LinkedIn to see a community of discussion on place branding.

Post by Nick Vehr – 5.29.09

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IPREX logoVehr Communications is Cincinnati’s exclusive member of IPREX, a partnership of 80+ independently owned PR firms from around the world.

We’re headed to New York City later this week for our 2009 global conference. 

Our host is IPREX member Makovsky & Co., Inc., the PR New 2008 Small PR Firm of the Year.  Special thanks to the Makovsky team for all their planning and prep work.

While in NYC, we’ll be discussing social media at Google, the economic crisis at Bloomberg News and how PR professionals are handling some of the toughest PR issues at a meeting at New York University.  We will also have a panel discussion featuring the chief communications officers from seven global companies.

If you have any interest in following our activities, or learning about the questions we are preparing to ask all these experts with whom we are going to meet, go to:

I probably will not post from the conference, but look forward to sharing insights when I return. 

If you have any particular question you would like me to ask, fire away.  Thanks.

Post by Nick Vehr – 5.11.09

seven deadly sinsJust wanted to share what I thought was some very insightful and creative guidance for professional communicators who worry on behalf of clients about their Web sites as platforms for communicating to achieve business objectives.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Web Site Design were shared by Seth Rosenblatt, VP of marketing for Autonomy Interwoven. 

PRIDE: Talking only about yourself/your company; putting the CEO’s picture on your home page;

GREED: Asking customers for so much information to register at your site that they decide it’s not worth their time;

ENVY: Wanting every gadget and feature your competitors have on their site;

WRATH: Making outrageous statements about your company or trying to frighten site visitors into working with you;

LUST:  Emphasizing flashy content over substance;

GLUTTONY: Stuffing too much content onto your home page and other site pages, making the site difficult to read and difficult to connect with emotionally; and,

SLOTH: Being lazy in how you test customer reaction and usage of your site.

Thanks to AMA for sharing these in the 5.15.09 edition of Marketing News.

Post by Nick Vehr – 5.9.09

New technologies have always changed the way people consume news.  kindle-dxProfessional communicators and PR folks realize this.

From the printing press (thanks Johanes Gutenberg) to radio to television to cable television to the internet.  And, now, how it gets to us through different devices (desktops, laptops, handhelds, E-readers, etc.) via the internet. 

Technology is again changing the way more and more of us consume news as former newspaper companies become “media” companies who realize that they better adapt, again, or die.

I want to share two experiences this week that emphasize, to me at least , that change is certain and change is good and how we adapt to change is what determines our success or failure.

I had the opportunity to have a brief lunchtime conversation with Margaret Buchanan, Publisher of the Cincinnati Enquirer.  When I commented on how challenging running a newspaper must be, she quickly reminded me that she was running a media company.

Her point? “Enquirer Media” (as she referred to it) is adapting to the different ways people consume news.  She proudly referenced the fact that “Enquirer Media” has more than 50 different “products” to reach consumers, one of which is the newspaper, the Cincinnati Enquirer.

In addition to Cincinnati.com (the number one portal for this market), “Enquirer Media” has many other online products, and watching the development of the new E-Reader.  (See the stories today in the New York Times  and Wall Street Journal about the release of Amazon’s new Kindle DX.)

Fair enough.

This past week in Cincinnati, Bill Burleigh retired as Chairman of the Board of the E.W. Scripps Co.  Talk about change, he’s seen it all.  Burleigh had been in the news business for 58 years.  He’s 74 (and a young 74 at that).

While I couldn’t find online the print story I read about Burleigh’s retirement (one failing of Cincinnati.com), I recall he was quoted as paraphrasing Mark Twain when he declared that, “the news of print’s death was premature”.  (I did find another, abbreviated, story.)

Burleigh added that he had witnessed changes driven by technology before and everyone claimed that newspapers were through then, just as they claim they are dying now.  He’s not buying it.

First of all, I like Bill Burleigh and his optimism and vision.  I also like Margaret Buchanan’s energy and innovative spirit and the fact that “Enquirer Media” is way more than a newspaper.  I especially like newspapers – the print kind – as an important part of my morning routine. 

These two media leaders are from different generations, and they both think a lot about how to attract consumers from yet different generations. 

One has lead a media company through many changes, and I suspect he feels those changes have been good for news consumption. The other is now leading  a media organization through a period of dramatic and rapid change, and I think she believes it will be good for news consumption.

I think so, too.  But, I just don’t think I’ll enjoy as much drinking my Starbuck’s with an E-reader as I do with a little bit of newsprint on my fingertips.

What do you think?

Post by Nick Vehr – 5.7.09