Raymond Buse III's parents nicknamed him "Buz" as an infant. It proved prophetic as "Buz," currently PR director for the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, has arguably created more buzz for the region than any single person. His creativity has revolutionized how the chamber views and practices PR. It's also garnered him 26 PR awards since 2005, including PRWeek's 2007 PR Professional of the Year.
"He's the most creative PR genius I have ever met," says Charlotte Otto, global external relations officer at Procter & Gamble, and former chair and current executive committee member of the chamber. "He's genius at coming up with newsworthy events and brilliant ideas. They make news. He makes excitement."
April 21 was Cincinnati's third "Downtown HopAround," a grassroots effort celebrating the area's revitalization and increasing patronage by having influential community members appear at restaurants and nightclubs. The first event occurred in 2001 to draw crowds downtown after a boycott following the local race riots. Resurrected last year by Buse (a volunteer co-chair) and others, the event has helped refocus a negative bit of Cincinnati history.
Later this summer, his vision of honoring natives who have made a name for themselves in the arts will be realized when the Cincinnati USA Walk of Fame is introduced on the recently renovated Fountain Square.
"I live, eat, and breathe Cincinnati PR," says Buse, who believes in demonstrating the city's greatness, not just talking about it. "I don't think [Cincinnati is] perfect. It needs to change to be better, more progressive. I've embrace[d] and promote[d] the music scene. The chamber would never think about promoting that. I've worked to break down those barriers."
Buse's prior triumphs have expanded ideas about what civic PR can be and do. For example, when billions of cicadas emerged from underground in 2004, Buse generated global attention after developing a CD, Seventeen Year Itch: Mating Songs of Cincinnati USA. Turning a flying bug infestation into a campaign promoting the city and its music scene certainly proves Buse's creativity. That campaign alone won nine PR awards.
"Those cicadas gave me the platform to propel my ideas, strategies, and career," he says. "It was a breakthrough project and one of my gutsiest."
Another ambitious idea came to fruition in 2005. It involved baiting Jay Leno, for whom the Cincinnati Bengals had been near-constant comic fodder. The Tonight Show host ended up giving a monologue for a regional young professionals summit. The widely covered event netted Buse four more awards.
Buse's passion for Cincinnati developed early. His father and uncle were shareholders in the Reds, and later in the Bengals, so Buse was exposed to city heroes, leaders, and events. He was a "natural fit" to promote the city, though the chamber was slow to recognize it.
"I applied four times," Buse recalls. "I told them if they could find somebody who loves Cincinnati more than I do to hire that person. I knew if I worked my tail off I could be one of the best promoters in the country because I feel so strongly about this city."
And that's just what he's done. "He takes creative thinking to a new level," says Caroline McKinney, the chamber's marketing account manager. "It's never what you expect. He has vision for how [to] promote a region and a city beyond the chamber walls."
Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber (CURC), director of PR (2006-present); PR manager (1996-2006)
Downtown Council, special-events division of CURC, marketing manager
EastSide Weekend, associate editor