Milwaukee seeks PR aid to up its image

MILWAUKEE: A local business group wants to use PR to transform

Milwaukee's image from the city of beer and brats to one that can retain

talented young college grads and attract hip urban professionals.

Spirit of Milwaukee plans to commission a survey of national opinions

about Milwaukee. It has spoken with research firms as well as an unnamed

PR agency about carrying out the survey, said Dean Amhaus, president.

When the results are in early next year, Amhaus' organization will use

those findings to craft key messages to reshape the city's image.

In the meantime, Amhaus has begun a grassroots PR effort, encouraging

local radio personalities to discuss positive attributes of


He also plans to contact business leaders at such local companies as

Harley Davidson, asking them to talk up the city when they deliver

speeches across the country.

The three-year-old business group has discussed spending as much as

$1 million annually on promotional efforts for the city, but

Amhaus said a budget has not yet been established for next year. Group

funding comes from local businesses.

The group discussed advertising, but decided PR can be a more effective

tool. It likely will consider hiring a PR agency next year.

"Anybody can put out ads, what we need is credibility," Amhaus said.

The Spirit of Milwaukee was founded with the primary backing of Midwest

Express Airlines after the airline found it difficult to lure new

employees from larger cities.

The city and the state of Wisconsin also have found it increasingly

difficult to keep college grads in the area.

The program wants to craft PR messages to reach both 20-something grads

and 30-something executives, said Amhaus. It's considering a range of

efforts such as encouraging development of the local music scene to

produce a unique Milwaukee sound, Amhaus added. In particular, Amhaus

hopes to develop a music scene in Milwaukee that is comparable to the

fame and notoriety of the Seattle scene which burst out in the early

1990s with such bands as Nirvana and Soundgarden becoming

internationally renowned.

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