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Oak Creek looks for its marketing message

City to discuss formalizing outreach

Aug. 14, 2012

Oak Creek - The city is looking at a more formalized way to market itself.

The Community Development Authority on Aug. 1 recommended the Common Council take up the matter of developing and implementing a plan with external consultation and a budget. Doug Seymour, director of community development, said the matter will be addressed at a council meeting in the near future.

Revisiting the idea

"Marketing is nothing new to Community Development Authority discussions," Seymour said. "We have been talking for the past four years or so."

Seymour said the city needs to develop a consistent marketing message that creates a consistent brand for all of its clients, including residents, business owners and developers who may want to do business in Oak Creek.

"We're looking to act more like a business," he said. "If you have a business, you have a specific marketing plan. We have never had an integrated brand solution. We want to have a say in how we are perceived in the marketplace so we are looking at examples of other organizations."

Looking to others

One of those other examples is the Gateway to Milwaukee Aerotropolis, an organization that is attempting to tie Gen. Mitchell International Airport with Oak Creek and other local communities to form a fully integrated manufacturing, business and transportation hub. Seymour is a member of the organization's business development arm.

Aerotropolis Executive Director Tom Rave said communities that market themselves recognize they are economic entities that need to develop their marketplace.

"It's important that you tell people who you are, what you are doing and what you want to do," Rave said. "You are really educating your marketplace. Sometimes it's just making people feel good about being part of the community. Other times, it's attracting those who are thinking about moving there as residents or businesses. You want to give them a reason to do so."

Personalized attention

Mayor Stephen Scaffidi said Oak Creek officials had talked about a concierge who would promote the city, but then broadened the idea.

"The concierge discussion has morphed into just having all the right messages and materials and having everyone from elected officials to staff talk about the city in the same way. We want to do everything we can to help businesses feel at home here."

As the city considers its options, marketing firms like Savage Solutions in Milwaukee are taking notice. The firm handles the marketing efforts of the Aerotropolis.

"We see a lot more cities moving into more formal marketing efforts," said Cory Savage, the firm's president. "Of course we would love to have the opportunity to work with communities around the aerotropolis."

Image challenges

Savage said image building is tricky, tied to the latest experiences. He noted that Oak Creek's short-term image certainly will be tainted by the Aug. 5 shooting spree by a gunman at the Sikh temple.

"People will associate Oak Creek with that incident," Savage said. "That's a natural connection right now. But they will also associate the incident in how well Oak Creek handled it. Eventually, the community will go back to being better known for more positive things."

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