Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Steel city transformation prompts marketing tool recommendation

Tampa Bay Business Journal - by Mark Holan
Date: Friday, January 28, 2011, 4:30pm EST

Earlier this week a Princeton, N.J., consultant sang the praises of Pittsburgh to a group of Tampa economic development officials.

I felt a pang of pride. Though I’m 25 years removed from my hometown at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers, I still visit family there and you better believe I’ll be rooting for the Black and Gold in next week’s Super Bowl.

But forget the sportscaster clich├ęs about the “Steel City.” Pittsburgh has transformed itself since the mills began closing in the late 1970s. The city has diversified into energy, financial services, information technology and health care.

Pittsburgh’s largest employer isn’t US Steel; it’s the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

And it wasn’t by coincidence that Pittsburgh hosted the G-20 Summit in 2009. Pittsburgh has become a positive role model for other rust-belt cities such as Detroit.

On Tuesday Andy Shapiro of Biggins Lacy & Shapiro told businesspeople and elected officials about a simple yet effective economic development tool Pittsburgh uses to market itself across the country and around the world.

The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance urges business travelers to pack flash drive presentations loaded with economic data about the city and western Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh executives also have economic development contacts printed on the back of their own business cards, as the Pittsburgh Business Times reported last March.

“They have deputized the private sector,” Shapiro said. “It’s a cool program.”

The Tampa Bay Partnership did something like that in the past, Communications Director Betty Carlin said. But the Partnership shifted to more tailored presentations and targeting professional site selection consultants. Now it’s considering a new flash drive program.

“It’s something we’ve had on our radar to reinstate,” Carlin said.

Pittsburgh Regional Alliance spokesman Philip Cynar said his organization’s flash drive presentations are regularly customized to suit the needs of Pittsburgh business travelers with the most pertinent and up-to-date information.

“We leverage the relationship we have with our corporate community,” he said. “They are willing to allow themselves to be used as ambassadors for the region.”

Tampa Bay, which has enjoyed the good fortune of marketing itself while hosting more Super Bowls (1984, 1991, 2001 and 2009, and now trying for 2015) than it has been able to play in (2003), could do the same thing.

Meanwhile, on Super Bowl Sunday: “Go Steelers!”

Read more: Steel city transformation prompts marketing tool recommendation | Tampa Bay Business Journal

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