Providence revitalization project attracts 300 journalists

PROVIDENCE, RI: It's not easy to get journalists from across the country to spend a day or two touring your city.

PROVIDENCE, RI: It's not easy to get journalists from across the country to spend a day or two touring your city.

So to add more punch to their pitches, several local groups are coordinating campaigns to promote this city's downtown revitalization efforts, which include $2 billion in construction projects.

The challenge now is to attract new residents, tourists, and businesses to the area.

"We thought, 'we just need to package this story,'" said Andy Cutler, president of Cutler Communications, which represents the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. (RIEDC). "No one's going to say PR folks don't have egos - we do. What was a nice pleasant surprise [though] is that we saw within our own agendas the bigger story."

Cutler said that the campaign has a "shoestring" budget of $10,000-12,000.

RIEDC, as well as real estate developer Cornish Associates; architectural firm Durkee, Brown, Viveiros, & Werenfrels; the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD); the Providence Foundation; and the City of Providence, are helping to fund the effort.

The groups invited 300 journalists to visit the city, and about a dozen accepted the offer to tour Providence and participate in roundtables.

Those discussions now will be edited and archived for reporters who could not attend, and groups are discussing how to leverage their media lists.

"By joining forces ... we were able to offer the press more of an incentive and more of an opportunity to come," said Ann Hudner, director of external affairs for RISD.

Emily Hall, marketing manager at Durkee Brown, noted that the combined effort gave greater depth to a recent project, turning a department store into loft apartments.

"In this case it is more effective to tell the larger story from several viewpoints than to simply issue a press release about the completion of one of our projects," she said. "Ignoring these factors only tells part of the story."

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