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TheGerbil

What's it going to take?

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A lot of people really like Pittsburgh, and have lots of respect for it. But on the whole, from the nation at large, we seem to get no respect at all.

We do something good, it gets downplayed or ignored. Some other city that does the same thing (at the same time or even later) gets applauded, though. Or so it seems to me. Like our new airport. It's really nice, and should have drawn a lot of attention when it was built. But I don't recall getting much notice. Meanwhile I saw a special later about Denver's new airport, and they made a big fuss about the underground trains. I sat there thinking "Hey, we have those, why aren't you doing a special on us?"

People notice bad news about us, but good news goes unacknowledged. Our new convention center is conspicuously absent from a book I saw the other day about great architecture around the world (and it looked like a recent enough book).

So what will get us respect? I guess if we had a huge boom we'd get noticed, but it is hard to boom without getting noticed first!

Why is it so hard? Do people just refuse to give us a second look because of our bad image? What do you all think?

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A huge part of it is reputation. Like with Cleveland or Buffalo, when people think "Pittsburgh" it just brings up negative connotations. TV producers often look at doing specials set in places that are perceived as uplifting. They feel that that is what brings in the ratings (other than some negative things, of course, like murders). Thus the special on the Denver Airport and no special on the Pittsburgh airport. Denver gives off the impression of being a new emerging dynamic city and people want to find out what's going on there. I think a similar thing is how the media hasn't really focused a whole lot on the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in Cleveland or the Rennaissance Center in Detroit, etc. Meanwhile it seems jsut about every other show on the Travel Channel is on Las Vegas (not much of a city but one that many people perceive as uplifting).

To change the dymaics, Pgh needs a better PR department to get rid of the negative connocations and to bring it more "buzz". It just seems that Pgh has a very old-fashioned and stodgy way of marketing itself. I take a look at the Pgh tourism brochure taht the city puts out and its not the glossy exciting brochure put out by other cities. Rather, it reads like a catalog. Then there was that fiasco a few years ago when the business community of Pgh tried a marketing tag line that was old, stodgy and used the word "amalgamated". Meanwhile, cities which had initially less to work with (Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, Toronto, etc.) gave off impressions of being so much more because they are always in your face with big glossy ads, big announcements, etc. and all that, while soemtimes corny, gave them dividends for years on out.

Truth be told, Pittsburgh has a lot to work with from the scenery to the museums to the ethnic neighborhoods, etc. There's no reason why it should be less successful than Denver, which is smaller, has fewer cultural facilities, fewer educational resources, etc. What it needs to do is self-promote more.

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Truth be told, Pittsburgh has a lot to work with from the scenery to the museums to the ethnic neighborhoods, etc.  There's no reason why it should be less successful than Denver, which is smaller, has fewer cultural facilities, fewer educational resources, etc.  What it needs to do is self-promote more.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes yes yes!! I know for a fact we have way more to offer than Portland, Austin, etc. But those cities have much better images and much better PR.

I hate it when someone puts down Pittsburgh and then prasies places like Columbus. What could Columbus *possibly* have that we don't? It makes no sense!

I wish I had the money to just do my own marketing campaign for Pittsburgh. I know I could do better than the people who are doing it now. We can't have all these middle aged people marketing the city. We need young people on the job!

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I can't address any negative images of Pittsburgh because I don't see that, my sister went to

Duquesne and I only have good memories of parties and metropol.

But what I can address is how important "marketing" is to the mix and relate the Philly

story of one of the things that has helped us turn the corner.

There are a lot of factors that have contributed to Philly's huge upswing but this study, I believe is in the top five. It launched programs like: lights of liberty, Philly's more fun when you sleep over, partnerships with cultural institutions and business and so many more.

In 1995 the Pew Charitable Trusts (3rd largest Foundation in America)

funded an extensive study..."Philadelphia Tourism: Assessment, Analysis and Recommendations."

In short the study said..."to make Philadelphia a national and international destination, it needed to develop and implement a consistent marketing campaign run by a centralized agency."

And so began...GPTMC (Greater Philadephia Tourism Marketing Corporation)

Since this group which is funded to the tune of $12 million a year and is not...not...not

tied to the city government, which is huge, here is what has happened.

(1) Leisure overnight trips to the 5 county area went from 5.59 million in 1997 to 7.8

million (39.5% increase) in 2004.

(2) In 1990, the average length of stay in Philadelphia was 1.8 days. A stop-off between

New York and Washington. In 2004 it was 3.6 days.

(3) Regional hotel room rates went from $498 million to $775 million.

(4) The leisure traveler now occupies 26% of hotel rooms in Center City up from 15%.

Note: for every $1.00 in marketing spent...it has returned $92.00 in direct visitor spending.

Those numbers are staggering.

In 2003, GPTMC commissioned Econsult Corp. to analyze the impact of tourism marketing.

The report is so extensive but it basically says that GPTMC's integrated marketing approach

has built the leisure tourism into one of the cornerstones of the regional economy. And the

benefit of selling image and visitation is that residents ... (1) feel better about where they live, thus the positive aura rubs off; more people want to live here, more businesses want to locate

here, and more students want to stay.

Fact: Tourism for Philadelphia has now become the second (2) largest industry. The trickle

down effects hotels, restaurants, shopping etc.

The recent D.K. Shifflet Report on tourism shows the impact in Philly.

$5.3 billion a year in direct visitor spending which generates $9 billion a year in indirect and induced spending.

Read about GPTMC

Info on GPTMC

Read this article from last year's city paper on marketing, very interesting perspective. Alot of same issues Pittsburgh is faced with.

City Paper - Marketing 215

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Fighting fire with fire, we need Playboy to do a "Girls of Pittsburgh" college special and Maxim to name us their top city (they do cater to college kids, after all, and we got those in bulk).

Selling out, if we really want to be on top of the Forbes list, which I seriously doubt, then what better way than to install a few luxury mega-yacht slips next to the skyscrapers to better show off that we, too, can support corporate executive largesse? Let's build a canal up to the US Steel building to better locate this marina. Install a Ferrari dealership at PPG Place? And most importantly, get rid of any actual manufacturing that actually takes place within city limits. All corporate headquarters, all the time... a new theme for Pittsburgh. Forbes will love it! Come on... we actually make *ketchup* within our Downtown area... that is so not "creative class."

Moving on, we need fame. Pittsburgh Filmmakers better get on the ball here and write some scripts to sell to Hollywood. Hillary Duff is a rich Fox Chapel girl finally getting her independance in a Downtown penthouse apartment while making new friends at Point Park College (theatre major, of course).

We need to get pictures of Paris Hilton shopping at Kauffmann's Downtown... To do so we need at least 1 casino and a pet store that sells tigers or cougars. Mario Lemeux better buy a luxury yacht to park at the new Marina, and we need to do a Cribs special on him.

I think after we take these very key steps, we will be right in line with every other reknown city in America.

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Thanks city guy. Do you have a link about that which I could email to my city councilman?

Blueblack, that post was really funny. Does Hillary Duff really live here? I didn't know that.

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Hillary Duff I Have never heard being claimed (even losely) to have a connection to the 'burgh. So I did some research:

IMBd.com:

" Mini biography

Hilary Ann Duff was born on September 28th, 1987 in Houston, Texas to Bob Duff and Susan Duff. When Hilary was six, she had been traveling in the Cechetti Ballet with her sister Haylie Duff, but decided she wanted to fulfill her dream of acting. Her first part was in the mini-series, True Women (1997) (TV), but her first starring role was as Ellie in The Soul Collector (1999/I) (TV), for which she won a Best Performance in a TV Movie or Pilot (Supporting Young Actress) Young Artist Award. Hilary also starred in Casper Meets Wendy (1998) . . . "

I think what you are confused on is that the Producer/Creator (her name escapes me) of the series is from Pittsburgh and based much of the shows wholesome goodness and teenage angst on her Pittsburgh years, Duff herself I have never heard a claim of Pittsburgh roots from.

This is kind of an avid hobby for me so although Duff is not Aguilera of course is, Sharon Stone is from north of the 'burgh, Demi Moore went to high school in the Steel Valley as well as that Italian hottie from the Pamela Anderson TV show VIP, Dean Martin (if you go that far back) is from Stubenville as well as Jimmy the Greek, the lady in the Partridge Family is from here, the list I have someplace on here (online) lol.

As far as the larger point of the thread I think a lot is being done to change attitudes, but I think the theme is correct, it is increasingly becoming a more advanced game out there winning hearts and minds or even eyeballs for 10 seconds. I hope with the BassMaster reaching much of the south and midwest the attitude of the average joe six-pack will change on Pittsburgh. A DNC National convention in 2004 or coming up in 2008 would go a long way as well.

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I was being completely sarcastic! I picked Hillary Duff for the teenie-bopper roles she normally plays... and she has no connection with Paris Hilton either, but appearantly they're making some generic teenie-bopper movie together, too. Remember the one where Duff was the president's daughter who just moved in to the White House and got her own secret service agents? :) But the wholesome childhood... sounds very marketable.

My point is let's remember not to go so far as become popular and well respected at the cost of alienating the people who keep Pittsburgh down to earth and real. If you've ever traveled around to places and compared them to how they're portrayed in the news and in movies, you know how dissapointing it can be even if you already took a strong dose of cynicism.

I remember my tour of Pitt's campus as a freshman and how they explained how the Cathedral of Learning came to be... they made a remark about how the top of the building is squared off and stops abruptly instead of being pointed and raised up as far as it will go. The idea way back then was to show that Pittsburgh doesn't have to prove anything to anyone because Pittsburgh knows for itself how high it can go.

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And so began...GPTMC (Greater Philadephia Tourism Marketing Corporation)

Since this group which is funded to the tune of $12 million a year and is not...not...not

tied to the city government, which is huge, here is what has happened.

<snip>

Note: for every $1.00 in marketing spent...it has returned $92.00 in direct visitor spending.

Those numbers are staggering.

City Paper - Marketing 215

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

While I agree with an effective marketing plan being helpfull, let me play the devil's advocate for a minute.

These findings seem like they might be upward-biased and overstate the benefits of image-building for Philly. For one thing, was multiple regression used to account for any other known variables? Did it account for the new convention center getting up on its feet? The increase in hotel space? The impact of the Republican convention, both in direct spending and advertising? The impact of other forms of advertising, such as ads generated by the expanded hotel space? All star games? International art exhibits? For another, were instrumental variables, such as the weather, used to account for mutual causation (if the city is creating more tourist attractions, businesses spend more on marketing as a result). Was panel data used to account for other omitted variables that influence revenues but can't be measured, by showing how the marketing made an impact compared to different times and different cities?

Also, what about the marketing agency being seperate from city government makes it better? As I recall, it was former mayor Rendell who strongly lobbied both political parties until the Republicans decided to hold their convention in Philly for 2000. Does this private marketing agency have any performance incentive, like a cut of the revenues directly resulting from it's work, or do they just have an incentive to put out statistics that make it look good enough to get continued funding?

That being said, it seems like $92 for each $1 spent on advertising is a ridiculously extreme figure, as are the rest of those statistics. I doubt it's giving credit where credit is due.

"Dilbert, the key to marketing is doing whatever you did before even if you know it won't work. That way no one tries to second-guess you." - Dilbert's boss

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Come on... we actually make *ketchup* within our Downtown area... that is so not "creative class."

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Funny you should say that. Isn't "The Rise of the Creative Class" based alot on Pittsburgh?

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I was being completely sarcastic!  I picked Hillary Duff for the teenie-bopper roles she normally plays... and she has no connection with Paris Hilton either, but appearantly they're making some generic teenie-bopper movie together, too.  Remember the one where Duff was the president's daughter who just moved in to the White House and got her own secret service agents?  :)  But the wholesome childhood... sounds very marketable. 

My point is let's remember not to go so far as become popular and well respected at the cost of alienating the people who keep Pittsburgh down to earth and real.  If you've ever traveled around to places and compared them to how they're portrayed in the news and in movies, you know how dissapointing it can be even if you already took a strong dose of cynicism.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Funny, I completely knew your post was sarcastic, but for some reason I thought

maybe Hillary Duff really was from Fox Chapel. Had to check :)

I remember my tour of Pitt's campus as a freshman and how they explained how the Cathedral of Learning came to be... they made a remark about how the top of the building is squared off and stops abruptly instead of being pointed and raised up as far as it will go.  The idea way back then was to show that Pittsburgh doesn't have to prove anything to anyone because Pittsburgh knows for itself how high it can go.

I like that. But I think the city as a whole needs to have that attitude. It doesn't do us much good when so many locals believe the bad things they hear about Pgh. If we were more self-confident as a city, maybe the rest of the world would get a better impression of us. Locals who disparage the place do more to hurt its image than anything else I can think of!

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While I agree with an effective marketing plan being helpfull, let me play the devil's advocate for a minute.

These findings seem like they might be upward-biased and overstate the benefits of image-building for Philly.  For one thing, was multiple regression used to account for any other known variables?  Did it account for the new convention center getting up on its feet?  The increase in hotel space?  The impact of the Republican convention, both in direct spending and advertising?  The impact of other forms of advertising, such as ads generated by the expanded hotel space?  All star games?

That being said, it seems like $92 for each $1 spent on advertising is a ridiculously extreme figure, as are the rest of those statistics.  I doubt it's giving credit where credit is due.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Some good points and I don't know the answer but here is their website that lists all the studies they commission. This site would also be good for The Gerbil if you email it to your council person, like you wanted. Tourism Research

Because the fact is if these numbers are true, the state which is providing funding for Philly should also provide the same funding for Pittsburgh.

Every year the GPTMC produces this 28 page annual report and it lists everything. A very impressive read.

In regards to public vs. private. Some political types are great marketers, Rendell is the one who spearheaded the group after the findings from Pew came out.

Then others like John Street are not. So this way as the GPTMC is independent it is not tied to the political winds of the city or the strengths or lack thereof of the Mayor. I think it also allows

the marketing to be more long range since you don't have to worry about elections every four

years, not to mention all the political appointments to the group and staff changes.

For the first time, Philly has a centralized marketing agency which is unique among cities and it is one of the many things I feel that is contributing to the upswing in the city.

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Re-reading that Duff comment, I see what you were getting at, a Road Rules or Real World or something of that nature would do wonders for Pittsburgh I feel (if the cast is right), and yes series or movies would as well. But if you think about it you need something similar to a "Titantic" or Spiderman or something like that to really draw interest . . . it doesn't get much better then Bruce Willis and Sarah Jessica Parker (when she was really hot) in Striking Distance or other similar movies (Jean Claude Van Damme back when he was bankable etc.) you need a blockbuster, I have always wanted a Miami Vice or CSI type show that really has the city behind it as a lead character and not an afterthought. THe best way to go about this type of endeavor is to elicit the attention of the Pittsburgh Hollywood community. They--from David Hollander and Steven Bocho to David Bellesarius (JAG, Quantum Leap etc.) are becoming more active in promoting Pittsburgh. There is a site that serves as a connection for these folks:

http://www.pittinhollywood.org

There is also an ad-hoc ambassadors program (since Pittsburgh has the largest exile community in the U.S. with the exception of Puerto Ricans--and they are everywhere--I believe the SPC has sent out some materials and set up meets in various cities to keep Pittsburgh on the radar and have a sort of Pittsburgh Goodwill casters.

I encourage us all to be like that when traveling around. Pittsburgh I believe is one of the best cities in the world if you knew the facts--all the facts--and had people sit down long enough to hear them. Most Pittsburghers (and I was one of them before I started compiling them a few years ago) don't even realize what a jewel of a city we have, from the only metroplex BELOW the national average of both violent and nonviolent crime to the continent's largest collection of neo-gothic architecture (why fly to Prague or Vienna or London for that?), one of the world's largest stained glass windows, one of the five best overall Medical Centers in the world, a city that gave the world everything from the Big Burgers (Big Mac started the craze) to the Muscle Car (Don Yenko's dealership was the first in the world to sell souped up cameros, which he modified on site), to the world's first four wheel drive all terrain vehicle in the Jeep (take that Hummerfanatics), we all know the list of all the other firsts, bridges, senic stairways, radio, AM Stereo, various Transplant operations, PBS station, etc. etc.

That all might seem academic and abstract, but really what defines a regions character, what makes Dixie southern or Texas the lone star state, what they do, what they gave the world, the firsts they invented or discovered. If you really look at the list of thousands of Pittsburgh contributions to the world it is jaw dropping. Again its a battle of information, we get bombarded everyday with what Madison Avenue wants us to swallow. If the facts were really out there on Pittsburgh, the firsts, the inventions, the gifts to the world, but most importantly current day rankings, or "best ofs", like Esquires claim of "Most Rocking City" and the recent tally that put Pittsburgh at #1 in scenic stairways and bridges (and the average joe thinks its San Francisco :P ) I think Pittsburgh wouldn't need much more improvement it would be valued for what it really is instead of maligned for what someone in some marketing department comfortably pigeonholes it as!

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Yup, publicity really is the big problem with Pittsburgh. I once bought the book "Pittsburgh Then and Now" (the newer one, not the University of Pittsburgh published-version from the early 90's) at a Barnes and Noble in Philadelphia. The cashier saw the picture of the modern Downtown Pgh skyline on the back cover and said "Which city is that?" I said Pittsburgh and he said "Oh so THAT's Pittsburgh".

Then there was a guy from DC who told me about his first trip to Pittsburgh and said "Its actually a real city with skyscrapers and all". When I said "Well what did you think it was going to be?" he said "I just figured it was a small city with steel mills".

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OOPs :( I had a really slow connection to urbanplanet so I took it upon myself to hit Stop and press the submit button again a few times... so it posted my text 3 times. Is there a way I can delete this? Kinda embarassed. :wacko:.

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I was driving around E. Carson last night and they were shooting film at the little square in front of Club Cafe. One of their crew said it's going to be for the UPMC Spotlight feature on local places around town. I can't believe they closed down Club Cafe for the night *for that.* Went get some wings at Claddagh's and went back to hang out at Jack's, instead.

But they had it all... giant lights hanging off buildings, cameras on a little railroad, pretty girls perpetually waiting in line to go inside the bar, prop cars and prop motorcycles. They were parking a tricked out looking audi, 2 BMWs, and a Mercedes in front of the club when I was there. They should have been there a couple nights before, when there were scores of shiny chromed out cruisers taking every available spot around the bar. After all it *is* a biker bar, and those mini-rallies are the regular weekend fare. I had to laugh at their methods. Another reason why I never talk to the media.

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On the subject of Hollywood, George Romero's latest zombie flick premiered Downtown at the Byham a couple nights ago. They did the whole red carpet thing. Quentin Terentino was there.

Granted, this film was made in Toronto, despite Romero's wishes, but it is set in Pgh I believe. And the premier here helped to raise money for the local film industry.

I sure do hope this premier got at least a little bit of national publicity. It'd be great for people all around the US to see a blockbuster film premiering in Pittsburgh, with famous people attending and everything!

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Yeah I'm seeing some ads for that already, Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo are in this one NICE!

Plus the Guardian's Simon Baker is doing his "Pittsburgh" thing again (even though it was in Toronto).

I just hope that they don't create a pun from this movie, you know the ol "oldest county in America besides Palm Beach" or "losing all the young families" etc. etc.

I am interested in 10th and Wolf coming out soon too (where we stand in for Philly!)

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I am interested in 10th and Wolf coming out soon too (where we stand in for Philly!)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That should be a very cool movie. I know it is based on the mob wars of

South Philadelphia with Little Nicky Scarfo in jail.

10th and Wolf has a real neighborhood feel to it, interested in seeing how it looks

on screen from Pittsburgh.

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I saw Land of the Dead yesterday. (It was pretty good, by the way). It was clearly set in Pittsburgh, but they didn't actually mention Pittsburgh. Only someone who is familiar with the city would realize it.

They showed the skyline but it was dominated by a computer-generated fictional skyscraper which dwarfed everything else. This tower is central to the movie.

The premise is that this is a world where zombies are already known, and regular people are forced to live inside fenced off areas, sending out special teams to zombie-infested towns to obtain supplies and food. The richest people live inside the big skyscraper. Very interesting.

This movie probably won't do much for Pittsburgh's image, good or bad. But it was cool to see this bizarre vision of the city.

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Gerbil, haven't seen it yet but from what I heard the "Land of the Dead" is all the world surrounding the city that is portrayed by Pittsburgh (could Romero be meaning something by that :lol:) come be alive, come to Pittsburgh! :lol:

Also Dennis Hopper is the dude with the highest floor in town (on top of that fictional skyscraper) and the warlord so to speak of the remainder of civilization, maybe after seeing the movie people will realize that Murphy as "leader" wasn't all that bad after all ;)

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I almost forgot, the bigshot badguy in the movie (the rich guy who lived on the top floor) was named Kaufmann. LOL

I'm telling you, only a Pittsburgher can *fully* appreciate this film :)

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^^Kaufmann does have Pittsburgh connections, but why the bad guy to be named Kaufmann, maybe Bellichek or T. Boone Pickens or something, but Kaufmann was a good guy, Fallingwater and all ;)

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