PR Agency Pitches Greenwich Economic Advisory Committee on Re-Branding for Town

Representatives from public relations firm, the Lou Hammond Group, made a presentation at town Hall on Wednesday to the First Selectman’s Economic Advisory Committee for a possible re-branding campaign.

The campaign would be funded by a combination of town and private funds, and would seek to attract residents and businesses to locate in Greenwich.

The move to “re-brand” Greenwich was initiated within the Economic Advisory Committee and has been championed by First Selectman Peter Tesei.

The idea was triggered by remarks made last September by Barry Sternlicht, chairman and CEO Starwood Capital Group, who declared Greenwich the worst housing market in America. News of his comment went viral.

In a recent interview, committee members Sabine Schoenberg and Jim Aiello alluded to an outmoded a pearls-and-Mercedes image of Greenwich.

They said that image may have once been true, but Greenwich has evolved, becoming a more diverse, cosmopolitan community.

During the presentation, representatives from Lou Hammond Group focused on their social media capabilities and nimble turnaround time during crisis events.

Starting with social media, the Lou Hammond team said that every dollar spent on social media equates to a $4.00 spent on an ad budget, and that analytics for social media provide tremendous detail.

They also went through several case studies of towns and cities where their services have attracted tourism and business. Examples included Seattle, WA, New Haven, CT; Charleston, SC; and Norfolk, VA.

Ms. Lou Hammond, chair and founder of the company that bears her name, described her company as a crisis communication shop.

Hammond said she previously worked at Pan American World Airways as head of public relations and public affairs before starting Lou Hammond Group.

“We were a leader in crisis management,” she said. “We were trained trained to handle anything in the world and we did. I brought that experience to this company.”

“We have a duty officer backed up 24/7. …Crisis management is all about action now. Not ‘Let’s have a meeting about it and respond on Tuesday.’ I know you’ve had some issues and things have popped up here and there. What you’ve got to do in those circumstances is put out statements. We’ve handled very difficult situations. …Crisis is something we do on a regular basis.”

Rachel McAllister spoke to the agency’s capabilities on social media.

“Nowadays, most crisis communications are happening on social media,” McAllister said. “We have a fully trained staff. …We’re not just publishing content, but thoughtful content. …What we do best is engaging with our audiences. We analyze every  post. Is it hitting every demographic? Is someone engaged with it? Is this content right for Facebook? Is it right for Instagram? And really delving in.  …It’s really about looking back at data and how it’s performing.”

McAllister said her agency monitors clients’ social media 24/7 for issues and to answer questions. “We’re always adjusting in real time, with a hands on approach,” she said.

“In the old days, Friday, at 4:oo pm, if something happened, we’d all be it’ll be okay by Monday,” Hammond said. “Now, Friday is the worst day because everybody is at home on the weekends. Everybody has something to say about a crisis.”

“Media relations is our bread and butter,” McAllister said, adding that since the news cycle is so much shorter, her firm works with top media outlets to secure positive stories.

“They know we have the clients they want, and we can get them the news they need in an efficient and timely manner,” she said about her agency’s relationship to the media. “They come to us often and rely on us for instant information.  It’s about us building relationships.”

“We’re consistently proactive. …We are always available to our clients. We schedule bi-weekly calls. And there is monthly reporting with great detail,” Hammond said.

“You can track everything on the back end. Who engaged? Where they clicked? Where they went? What do they do?  All that goes into the reporting,” McAllister said about social media analytics.

“I hope you see that we provide keys to a lifestyle draw – unmatched destination industry experience,” Hammond said.

“Media know us so well. …We have these relationships – they’re writing a story and say – ‘I’m writing a story. I need this. I need it right now,'” she said. “They don’t need it in a week. They need it now. So I always say, ‘If you don’t have the information, let’s make it up and make it happen.”

Hammond said a third of her firm’s clients have been with the company for five+ years, and some have been with the firm 25+ years.

“We build relationships that last. We have established brand building experience,” she continued.

Paul Settelmeyer said Greenwich has a diverse and opinionated group. He alerted the team of the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD).

“It isn’t a vision that necessarily everyone agrees to,” he said. “I wouldn’t want a public relations campaign out of sync with the vision. We’re all partners with this effort.”

See also:

Proposed Greenwich Re-Branding: A Pearls and Mercedes Town No More


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  • realsaramerica

    “They don’t need it in a week. They need it now. So I always say, ‘If
    you don’t have the information, let’s make it up and make it happen.” This is why good journalists take PR with a health dose of skepticism, and do their job as journalists rather than just print the release or take the word of the spin doctors. Greenwich taxpayers, please recognize and appreciate that If we didn’t have Greenwich Free Press, this meeting wouldn’t even have been covered. Thank you, Leslie Yager, for your service to the town.

    • Agree. Thanks, Leslie for covering this topic.

  • Peter Alexander

    “Private Public Funding” Fascism or Crony Capitalism?
    Leslie you are the best but please tell me what is the difference?

    • realsaramerica

      Crony capitalism more apropos here. Those of us who made prudent financial decisions when purchasing homes are being asked for our taxpayer dollars to bail out the bad decisions of people who took out too much debt to invest in McMansions in backcountry and now can’t unload them for what they paid for them. Never mind that these are many of the same folks who are ardent proponents of free market principles when it comes to those less well off than themselves when it comes to issues like healthcare and the carried interest loophole.

      • Peter Alexander

        I love McDonald’s please stop the insults…Ego Temples are more appropriate.
        Few are built by real families using real design professionals, Most are built on “design-build” speculators with no sense of love of sense of place & purpose. Specarchitects & Permit Parasites are ruining the “Town” in an effort to make money.
        Add in spending millions to encourage street clogging bauble browsers & buddy money buggy buyers on Greenwich Avenue & Post Road.
        Family First needs comeback….

        • realsaramerica

          LOL, I stopped at the McDonalds in Quantico religiously for fries and soda when I drove down to college. No insult intended to the Golden Arches.

  • I would be far more interested in what Greenwich residents think of our Town than what others think of Greenwich. Why not do a survey?

    Who in Greenwich actually benefits from a PR or social media campaign?: Real estate brokers, commercial real estate owners, property developers, etc.?

    Seems like a silly initiative to me.

    • realsaramerica

      They did a survey – last year, I believe to ask what services town residents thought were important. Don’t have time to find the stuff, cause I’m on a deadline, but I asked questions about why the survey sample was so small, and how they picked who to survey. It really stood out that it was a much smaller sample than the previous survey – and that led me to wonder how representative it was in terms who got surveyed. To your point, is the “brand” that is being proposed the “brand” that town residents want?

      • Thanks for your response. Clearly, I wasn’t included in last year’s survey.

        Town “branding” with local tax dollars is – in my opinion – a silly exercise. As a resident, I would rather our Town be known for its quality school system, walkable parks, mixed transportation alternatives, community resources/activities and a place where you would want to bring up a family.

        The fact that Greenwich Town growth – like most of New England – has stalled and shows no signs of recovery -will not be reversed by a PR campaign on social media.

        I hope residents get a chance to determine the “values” of Greenwich they would like to promote rather than accumulate “Likes” for largely meaningless social media “values.”

  • Maureen Therese Sheehan

    My jaw is dropped so far down upon reading this worthless article re rebranding Greenwich. Certainly, you have got to be kidding me?!?! With the town most recently losing millions in education funding thanks to Governor (thank God not running for another term) Malloy, I ask, Are you serious??? How about putting the monies this ridiculous campaign would be funded with (town and private) towards the education monies Malloy pulled? OR – better yet, addressing the lovely drug epidemic flourishing in town that so many of you CHOOSE to ignore?!