CAMPAIGNS: Image enhancement - Tacoma is wired to alter its image

Client: City of Tacoma Economic Development Department

PR Team: Development Counselors Intl. (New York)

Campaign: Tacoma: America's #1 Wired City

Time Frame: November 1999-March 2001

Budget: Less than $150,000

Tacoma, WA was once known for its high crime rate and the nasty odor

nicknamed "the Tacoma aroma." But perception hadn't kept up with

reality. By late 1999, tech companies dotted the city, and Tacoma had

built its first light rail system, an $88 million waterfront

area, and a $100 million retail/office/housing development in the

heart of downtown. But public perception was still stuck in the "Tacoma

aroma" days.


Since attitudes needed to catch up with the facts, Development

Counselors International's (DCI) plan of action centered mainly around

the media.

The agency set a goal of generating at least 20 positive local articles

about Tacoma's turnaround. Using the tagline "America's #1 Wired City,"

the agency set the wider-reaching goal of generating at least 10

positive placements in Seattle about Tacoma's tech climate and

reputation. The national goal was five articles featuring successful

Tacoma CEOs in national and international publications.


DCI kicked off the campaign with a local news conference, unveiling the

"#1 Wired City" theme and logo. The agency created ambassador cards and

asked local businesses and community leaders to help tell the story,

offering a b-to-b endorsement. The logo was placed on city employee

business cards, and city e-mail addresses were changed to "wiredcityusa.

com." DCI also created a "Wired City Millionaire's Club."

The DCI team continued by organizing a Seattle media day. The agency

targeted Seattle bureaus of national outlets, monitored editorial

calendars, and also pitched the story to national outlets, including

Business 2.0, The Industry Standard, and Inc magazine.

The city backed up the "America's #1 Wired City" image by supporting

local tech events - such as the community's first e-Business Day - in

cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development

Board, and local tech groups.


From May through September 2000, Tacoma hosted more than 20 national,

regional, and trade journalists. The campaign generated articles in

national and international publications, including Inc (a cover story),

Business Week, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Dallas

Morning News, Area Development, Site Selection, Global Business,

Business 2.0, and Site Selection Online. Other hits included The Wall

Street Journal, The Boston Globe, American City & County, and Foreign hits included Die Welt (Germany), Asahi Shimbun

(Japan), and Agence France Presse (France).

The News Tribune of Tacoma wrote, "A well-crafted marketing/PR campaign

has succeeded in giving Tacoma an entirely new image - 'America's #1

Wired City.' This is the kind of publicity that money cannot buy."


The city says it is meeting its goal of turning around Tacoma's image

and bringing new businesses to town. More than 100 tech companies have

opened their doors or expanded in Tacoma in the past 18 months. The

"America's #1 Wired City" tagline and logo is on the websites of many

Tacoma companies.

The number of corporate inquiries into moving to the city has increased

five-fold, and city officials are being invited to speak at national

conferences about the program's success.

DCI continues to work with the city of Tacoma on various PR activities.

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