Now’s the Time to Ask: What are you Saying? How are you Saying it?
Slate recently helped the Colorado Main Street Program Managers complete a communications audit so they could learn how their current efforts were adding value to their partners, and then expand their program with these insights and recommendations.
The Main Street Program is a national program that works with local communities (through state offices) to catalyze reinvestment, create jobs and foster pride of place. Many communities enter the program with decaying historic downtown cores, some level of unemployment, and retail leakage.
The Colorado Main Street Program has 18 participating communities, and they want to grow that number to 40 over the next 4-6 years. But they didn’t know how to start talking to communities all over Colorado. Our state is big. There are hundreds of towns and cities.
So, the Program Managers hired Slate to complete a communications audit - they wanted an outside entity to evaluate:
- What they were saying to communities
- Whether or not the participating communities were talking to their stakeholders and residents, and how
- What participating communities needed in order to do this whole communications job better.
What we did:
Made calls. We talked to nearly every participating community in depth and got to know what made the Colorado Main Street Program tick and grow in their communities. We researched the communities - we fished for data such as their downtown business organizations, their special event calendars, their social media platforms, their places of higher ed, and lots more.
Then, we took a prescreened list of 125 communities and dug deep into their demographics, their geography, their events, their downtown organizations.
And we stepped back. Themes emerged. Positive attributes and challenges to revitalization began taking shape.
We were able to take this data and information and create concrete recommendations for future outreach.
Colorado Main Street Program managers are now:
- Creating targeted e-newsletters
- Optimizing their social media platforms.
- Creating marketing kits for participating communities so that everything local program managers need to marketing the program is in one place, and each community is telling the Colorado Main Street story in a similar way with similar tools - this helps solidify the Colorado Main Street Program brand, and helps super busy local program managers with easy to use templates, messages, event and measurement ideas.
- Developing key messages for their three core audiences:
- Potential communities who have zero to little knowledge of the program
- Communities who are interested in joining Colorado Main Street Program
- Enrolled/participating communities
Our partners in the Colorado Main Street Program are smart and very effective at what they do. But they didn’t have the capacity to complete an audit and research, or create marketing strategies and recommendations. By outsourcing this part of their work plan, they had time to continue their core mission.