How to promote your town using real-life stories

Edmonton’s populace helps dispel myths and paint a faithful cityscape for outsiders.

Edmonton’s populace helps dispel myths and paint a faithful cityscape for outsiders

Deciding to launch a social networking initiative is one thing—getting it to gain traction and take on a life of its own is the far tougher job.

When Mary Pat Barry, branch manager of corporate communications for the City of Edmonton, Alberta, met with a cross-departmental team of communications professionals to determine how a social networking program to promote the city would take shape, driving participation was top of mind.

The genesis of Edmonton’s social media efforts began in mid-2008, Barry explains, when she and communications colleagues for the city’s tourism, economic development, transportation and education departments decided they needed to ramp up the PR efforts for the provincial capital.

“We just didn’t feel like the awareness of our city was fair or accurate,” Barry says.

It’s not that perceptions of the city were negative, Barry points out—it’s that outsiders didn’t have much knowledge of the city at all. “Especially during the economic boom years for Alberta, we were not competitive in terms of attracting jobs and a labor force,” says Barry. “The migration was just not there.”

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