The panel was formed a little over a month ago to combat the negative press the city has incurred during coverage of the shooting of Trayvon Martin in past months.
It is made up of 14 members of the community representing businesses, non-profits, chambers of commerce, schools, public relation firms and tourism councils.
During Monday’s commission work session Economic Development Director Nick Mcray showed commissioners the first phase of the campaign, which will focus on Sanford as a pet-friendly city.
The following three phases will highlight Sanford’s retail, including the Seminole Towne Center and downtown boutiques, the arts and lastly, café and restaurants throughout the city.
Mcray said he has allotted $25,000 from the economic development budget in the city to fund the work.
The panel has already come up with a tagline for the campaign that tries to show Sanford’s good side – “Friendly Sanford… A lot to like.”
Mcray said by utilizing the panel to come up with such marketing strategies, it may take focus off of the negative perception the city government has received.
“There is a significant amount of emotion involved in the public perception of City of Sanford government at this time,” he said. “This campaign is not looking to deny that or the associated concerns, but to instead focus on those quality of life and commercial amenities that Sanford has which gives credence to the part of our tagline which says – ‘A lot to like.’”
In addition to the print media campaign the panel will look at options for television, where local celebrities may even speak out about what they like in Sanford. Mcray said the process has started to reach out to folks, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
Also, the marketing panel is utilizing social networking – namely Facebook – to spread a positive word about Sanford to their friends. Mcray said the City of Sanford will also look to launch its own social media presence when the city’s new website is revealed later this summer.
And although city funds may run out for the group, Mcray said they are looking into ad co-op, which may continue the print and television campaign past November.
Despite the Positive Marketing Campaign having not been officially kicked off, the first real effort headed up by a member of the panel – the “Hand in Hand” campaign – has attracted media attention. The hands, made by members of the community with a positive message, are still installed around Sanford symbolically showing how the city is committed to working together towards a better future.