CAMPAIGNS: Economic Development - Upstate NY looks to lure cityfolks

Client: Central New York Regional Compact (Syracuse, NY)

PR Team: MRA (Syracuse, NY)

Campaign: "What Not to Pack When Moving to the Syracuse Region"

Time Frame: March 8, 2001

Budget: dollars 3,750

After the Central New York Regional Compact received a grant from state

Sen. John DeFrancisco to launch a campaign to attract attention and

entice businesses to relocate to the Syracuse area, it turned to its PR

agency, MRA, for ideas.

Established a couple of years ago by the Greater Syracuse Chamber of

Commerce, the Compact focuses on promoting economic prosperity and

maintaining a high quality of life in Cayuga, Cortland, Oneida, Madison,

Onondaga and Oswego counties.


What better way to publicize the small-town virtues of the up-and-coming

Upstate New York region than to vilify the ugly, everyday realities of

life in the big city? That was the reasoning behind a guerrilla

turn-and-burn campaign.

"The campaign was designed to get persuasive information in front of the

target audience," says Marti Bledsoe, the MRA account executive heading

the account. "It was also intended to generate media coverage, which

could be merchandised back in Syracuse to foster pride in the innovative

way the region is marketing itself locally and outside the area."

Account representatives at the Syracuse-based PR agency came up with a

novel idea: a checklist-style flyer that looked like a moving list,

detailing what a person would need to leave behind when relocating to

the area.

"The lists detailed items you no longer need when you move to the

Syracuse area, like ear-plugs (sirens won't keep you up all night) and a

headhunter (good companies will be beating down your door)," says


Now all they needed was a venue to distribute it. Enter the NCAA Big

East Men's Basketball Tournament. The event, held annually at Madison

Square Garden in midtown Manhattan, draws thousands of visitors from

cities up and down the eastern seaboard. MRA representatives realized

that this popular event would provide its client with the venue it

needed to pass out its cleverly presented information.

"Only the client thought the Big East Tournament had already passed,"

says Bledsoe. Once informed that, in fact, the event's tip-off was

actually still days away on March 8, Compact officials agreed to launch

the campaign on March 2.


Flyers were distributed at subway stops and other locations outside the


MRA also mounted an e-mail effort to notify media outlets in Syracuse

and New York about the campaign. In addition to the humorous content,

the flyer included the Web addresses of three job recruitment sites as

well as a general Syracuse-related site.


More than 7,500 "unpacking lists" were distributed. On the media front,

the e-mail campaign drew limited attention - although a front-page

article with a full-color photo ran in the following day's issue of the

Syracuse Post-Standard. The article enabled Compact leaders to raise the

profile of their efforts and discuss future initiatives.


Compact officials are huddling with MRA folks to devise similar

guerrilla tactics. Media relations efforts for the region will continue

through June 2001.

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