City to spend up to $50,000 on positive storytelling campaign

Revised project outline with less prescriptive terms approved May 31

Prince Albert's new city council gets sworn in on Monday, Nov. 15. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

The city has decided to move forward with a revised plan to tell the city’s story in an effort to dispel what city council sees as myths perpetuated about Prince Albert.

In March, a proposed request for proposals for a $50,000 positive storytelling campaign was voted down by councillors who weren’t happy with the ideas put forward by the city’s communications department. They viewed the proposal as too prescriptive and not focused enough on economic development.

Last Monday, during executive committee, city councillors approved a new request for proposals, that has since been sent out, that left more details of the plan to the consultant to decide, instead of laying it out for them.

Under the new request for proposals, applicants will be judged on their experience in economic development, tourism and marketing and knowledge of the Prince Albert community.

“Despite all the many advantages of living in Prince Albert, there is a negative view that

prevails. This view is often supported and worsened by local media that report on the

negativity and residents inclined to focus what makes Prince Albert undesirable,” the city says in its report.

“The accepted perception is that Prince Albert is a community that suffers from crime, poverty, addiction, and a deteriorating downtown core. This view has an impact on economic development by hampering efforts to attract skilled labour and investment.”

The report says the project’s goal is to influence more favourable attitudes and opinions about the city and contribute to economic development by raising the city’s profile regionally, provincially and nationally as an attractive place to live, raise a family and do business. The city is hoping for a multi-media campaign that uses social media as a core component of its implementation.

According to the city, “the goal is to deliver a campaign that resonates with audiences in a way that:

1. Impresses the people of Prince Albert so they are more inclined to share the content

and what they love about the community;

2. Inspires people so they can envision themselves living in Prince Albert or moving back

to Prince Albert; and

3. Catches the interest of non-residents who may hold a negative opinion of Prince Albert

as a place to live, invest and do business.”

Proposals must still include a broad spectrum of positive stories in areas such as arts, culture, sport, business and key economic sectors, identify an editorial calendar schedule, prepare a project plan, conduct all interviews, arrange for consent for use of the images and video, produce the photo and video shoots and ensure the content meets the standards of the city.

 Proposals will then be measured against company experience, qualifications and experience along with price, local knowledge and project plan. The maximum budget for the strategy is $50,000.

The project is being completed in consultation with the chamber, downtown business improvement district, historical society, E.A. Rawlinson Centre and regional economic development alliance.

Ward 4 Coun. Don Cody applauded the project.

He was happy to see the consultations with other agencies and the focus on economic engagement.

“We’ve got what we want and we will get a good product and the stories we need to make this city more positive,” he said.

“This is a great city, one of the greatest in the nation, but we get a poor spin from a lot of people. A lot of the time we get a poor spin from ourselves. There are so many good things going on in our community and we never seem to tell people about it. We’ve got to tell those stories.”

Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick was also pleased with the new terms of the proposal.

“It’s crucial. We need people to realize that Prince Albert is a great place to work, play, live and invest. That’s what this is about. It’s about council directing the information to a consultant  and the consultant … showing the truth about Prince Albert,” he said.

He blamed social media for much of the negative perception surrounding the city.

“We just get beat up big time with myths that are being circulated on social media about Prince Albert. We can do this and say this is the real story about Prince Albert. It’s going to assist our communications people at telling the story of Prince Albert.”

Not all councillors were convinced though.

Ward 3 Coun. Tony Head, who voted against the proposal last time, said that the $50,000 allocated for the project would be better spent elsewhere improving life for residents in the area.

The vote passed 6-3 with Couns. Head, Terra Lennox-Zepp and Charlene Miller voting against.

City communications manager Kiley Bear encouraged all interested businesses to apply.

“If you think you’re capable of achieving the goals that are defined, you would put forward our plan as you envision it and we would examine that plan,” she said.

The city will look at creativity, ambition and vision and make a decision.

“The final decision isn’t exploratory,” she said. “It’s ‘tell us your vision, and we will award it based on what we hear.”

The RFP was issued on June 1 and is set to close on June 22.

The city hopes to be able to award the contract by mid-July or early August. Once that’s done, the successful bidder will have up to a year to complete the project.