Five Inexpensive Ways to Jumpstart Your Economy

Here is a link to the slides from our popular webinar from last December. All the ideas can be implemented for under $10,000 and some are at no (financial) cost (although there are man hours involved).

Five Inexpensive Ways to Jumpstart Your Local Economy

Five Elements of a Viral Social Media Communications Plan

by Bob Maples

Bob Maples

Bob Maples

Every economic development organization faces unique challenges and opportunities as it seeks to harness its full potential.  The EDO communications team should be constantly seeking creative, flexible programs that leverage their assets and opportunities to increase the likelihood of success.   Every EDO is different, ranging from start-up efforts in small to large organizations, to very progressive regional and state-level groups, and need to develop a comprehensive suite of programs to guide them toward solutions that respond to their needs.  Every EDO communications plan should incorporate these five key elements:

One:  Strategic Planning and Analysis

I believe a strategic communications plan should not collect dust on a shelf.  It should be an economic development roadmap with identified goals and objectives specific to social media and traditional communications.  These goals should focus EDO outreach efforts and lead to measurable outcomes needed to build buy-in, support, or make a difference.  Depending on an EDO’s needs, a strategic communications planning process may involve a community assessment; appreciative inquiry; stakeholder interviews; group discussions; cluster analysis; targeted industry identification; capital funding requirements; workforce development and education; and other relevant assessments.

 When developing goals, EDO leaders should identify three to five objectives, such as driving legislative change; raising visibility of efforts with the community or with local business leaders; creating buy-in from specific audiences; or raising money or awareness for sustainability of the region’s efforts.  In setting goals, it is important to include short-term and long-term goals, specific audiences, and tactics with milestones to measure success.

 Two:  Target Audience Analysis

Economic development organizations must understand the assets of their state, region, city or community and focus their recruitment efforts in ways that maximize the assets and minimize the challenges.  By identifying targets, an EDO can be much more efficient in its marketing programs and is better positioned to sell to its strengths.

 During this step, EDO leaders must identify and prioritize audiences.  Leadership must work to understand their audiences’ concerns, identify obstacles, and understand the core characteristics that make up each audience segment.  No two audiences will have the same needs in terms of communications, so understanding who they are, how you may best reach them, and the obstacles that may arise are essential.

Three:  Core Messages

One key to successful communications and social media is delivering a powerful and relevant message.  This is true whether the social media activities are designed to sell a product – your community – or recover from a crisis.  Tactics and strategies exist to bring messages to life.  Messages should be audience-specific and answer the all important question, “What’s in it for me?”  The messages should provide a sense of urgency, be simple, use data wisely, and have a clear call to action.  The call to action is simply what you want the audience to do.

Four:  Strategies and Tactics

Identifying and developing strategies and tactics are a natural progression of the social media and communications planning process.  Leadership group strategies and tactics constitute the plan to achieve a particular goal (strategy) and social media/communications vehicles or activities that will be used to disseminate messages (tactics).

The communications team should look to combine traditional and social media tactics that have proven to be successful in other community initiatives with new ideas that may be effective based on having clear messages and a strong call to action.  Public relations strategies may include garnering more press attention for the initiative.  The tactics could include news releases, news conferences, briefings for reporters, op-ed placements in the newspapers, speaking at local events, or other activities as fit for the EDO.  Similarly, if the strategy is to better understand citizens’ and businesses’ concerns, the tactics may include research, briefings, meetings, etc.

Crafting a successful social media campaign is more difficult than it looks.  Using social media in your campaign is the most effective method of combining all of the powerful Internet resources available today such as search engines, social networks, local directories, e-mail marketing, blog posts, and SEO news releases are just but a few examples of how information on a community and its businesses can be exponentially propagated locally and globally at the click of a button – increasing awareness of the community in achieving objectives through self-replicating viral processes.

 Five:  Measure Overall Impact

 It’s no secret that board members and leadership are expecting more quantifiable results and ROI from the resources spent on the campaign.  By the time you are done, you should have a set of metrics to share with the leadership team.  What you measure depends on your initial strategy.  If the goal was to acquire and retain businesses in your community, you will need to use metrics from the economic development team to measure results.

By monitoring the campaign you can react in real time.  You can use a social intelligence solution to accurately monitor keywords related to your campaign and observe what sort of sentiment lift your brand or campaign is experiencing, and what the emerging themes and conversations are.  Set up notifications to detect any unusual changes, allowing the leadership team to make educated decisions in real time.

However you choose to measure, it’s important that you identify areas for campaign improvement based on feedback.  This enables you to identify opportunities to address new target audiences and improve your strategy.

The Takeaway

Traditional communications and social media – creating, publishing and promoting helpful content for your target audiences can earn your community incredible reach, influence and revenue.  Social media and viral marketing tactics are making it easier for your targeted audiences to find information for themselves.  By publishing content that your audiences need and value, you can attract everyone you need to reach – local businesses, prospects, journalists, influencers, bloggers and your citizens.

Crafting a successful viral social media campaign is not easy and requires a commitment.  Once done, it becomes the roadmap to successfully achieving your goals and objectives.  Call or e-mail us if you need help.  It is why we formed Civic 180 – to help communities and cities grow in the right direction.

CiViC 180 to Host Webinar Dec. 12 Focusing on Inexpensive Ways to Jumpstart Your Local Economy

After Redevelopment Agencies and Enterprise Zones, what can a California community do to promote local economic development? The answer is in your own backyard by retaining and growing local businesses. Join in this no-cost webinar to hear about five great ideas to create jobs and positive buzz for your community. We’ll also give you tips on how to finance the costs.

Join the Webinar DEC. 12 from 10:00-10:45 a.m.

The presentation will present ideas on inexpensive programs to create jobs through:

  • Business Retention
  • Entrepreneurship
  • International Connections
  • Vital Marketing
  • Smart Cities Technologies

The program will conclude with a discussion of strategies to find funding to support these projects through innovative public-private partnerships. CiViC 180 will make time available to all participants  to discuss local needs following the program.

The presentation will be led by CiViC 180 Co-Founders:

Christopher Lynch, an economic developer with experience in Irvine, Santa Rosa and Silicon Valley. He also was an international economic and trade policy expert with the US Department of State.

Bob Maples, PR and social media expert. Bob has worked with most of the major IT companies developing their PR strategies, winning seven national PRSA “Silver Anvil” awards.

To register, send YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION to OR call 949-236-9637

About the Community Vitalization Council:  CiViC 180 creates, manages and finances programs to help communities develop their local businesses. As a 501(C)3 non-profit, CiViC 180 gives special focus to working with underserved communities.

What Makes a Community or a City Great?

Bob Maples

Bob Maples

According to a McKinsey & Company study, more than half the world’s inhabitants – 3.6 billion people – live in cities. The proportion is the highest in mankind’s history, and it is growing fast. The ways in which cities develop and cope with such rapid urbanization are of huge importance to its citizens. Cities are the main sources of economic growth and productivity. With that said, to make the most of the available resources, both human and financial, effective city leaders need to rigorously assess and manage expenses, explore private partnerships, introduce investment accountability, and embrace technology.

The formidable task of managing growing cities in ways that support and drive economic growth will help the public, social, and private sectors in making informed decisions about city and community development strategies, and to help build the skills to implement those strategies. This need for community revitalization is a primary reason we formed CiViC 180 as a non-profit – to help communities and cities grow their local business community, embrace technology and viral marketing, connect globally, build entrepreneurship and sustainable funding to drive business acquisition and retention.

This growth in city inhabitants begs the question – “How do you make a city great?”

Through analysis, case studies, and interviews, we all seek to learn what cities and their leaders do to make their cities great, their communities better places in which to live, work and establish a business. Our findings, as I am sure you have found, make it clear there is no single method. Research suggests that successful cities find a balance between three primary areas. Cities need to achieve smart growth, which means securing the best growth opportunities to ensure prosperity. They need to do more with less. And, they need to win support for change by delivering results swiftly. It is a simple process, but sometimes difficult to execute:

 1. Make Planning an Inclusive Process – city and community audit

2. Improve existing infrastructure

3. Innovation – develop opportunities for all

4. Achieve smart growth – nurture the best opportunities

5. Do more with less – make the most of available resources and community partners

6. Embrace technology and viral marketing

7. Win support for change – craft a personal vision for the city


City and community leaders need to understand their tenure will be limited. When long-term plans are articulated – and gain popular support because of short-term success – leaders can start a virtuous cycle that sustains and encourages a great city environment. As I mentioned earlier, for a leader to make important strides in improving their cities must do three things really well:

 1. They must achieve smart growth. Smart growth identifies and nurtures the very best opportunities for growth in the community, develops a plan to cope with its demands, integrate innovative thinking, and ensures all citizens enjoy a prosperous city. An important element is to think about regional growth because as a metropolis expands, you will need the cooperation of surrounding municipalities and regional service providers. Integrating a business environment into economic decision making is vital to smart growth: cities must invest in developing infrastructure to grow and attract emerging growth companies in building high-density communities.

2. You need to do more with less. To be a great city, you need to secure all revenues due, explore investment partnerships, embrace technology, make organizational changes that eliminate overlapping roles, and manage expenses. Successful leaders realize their weaknesses and bring talented consultants who can achieve immediate results. Smart leaders bring in consultants to help them understand, if they design and executed well, they can deliver on private-public partnerships that will be an essential element of smart growth, delivering lower-cost, and higher-quality economic infrastructure.

3. Winning support for change is essential. Every city needs to change, it scares the team and the board, which can slow the momentum and even attract opposition. It creates fear, uncertainty and doubt. Successful cities will build a high-performing team of civil servants and talented consultants, to create a working environment where everyone is accountable for their actions, and take every opportunity to forge a consensus with the local population and business community. Building consensus with the local population and the business community through transparency and two-way communications is key to defining the city’s vision. The first step is to recruit and retain top talent, emphasize collaboration, and train civil servants in the advantages of using technology.

 Every city has different priorities. Those priorities will be shaped by their own passions and vision, and by their city’s needs. City leaders will find themselves at different starting points in their quest to make their cities great, so each will have a different mandate. Many will find a strong consulting group to complement their team to get results quickly in kick-starting economic growth and delivering results. CiViC 180 has stepped in and assisted communities in making a difference. Everything CiViC 180 does is driven by the deepest and most profound understanding of how businesses’ need to interact with the community.

A city willing to take these steps will achieve smart growth, do more with less, and win support for change – the three hallmarks of any journey on the road to greatness. It is a journey to our future that needs to begin today.