Council mulling $50,000 project to improve city’s image

The city of Prince Albert as seen from the North Side of the North Saskatchewan River. Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

City council’s executive committee is set to approve a $50,000 project aimed at improving the perception of Prince Albert.

Council was approached by a third party back in November to create a $50,000 campaign aimed at improving the image and public perception of the city. That proposal turned into a bigger discussion about creating such an initiative in-house.

The $50,000 was included in this year’s budget. A report set to appear before executive committee Monday recommends proceeding and posting a request for proposals for a two-year project aimed at positive storytelling.

“There is a need for positive marketing of Prince Albert,” the report, written by communications manager Kiley Bear says.

“As many who live in Prince Albert now, this is a vibrant, family-oriented city. Prince Albert has its challenges, but there are many people who, each in their own way, make Prince Albert an incredible place to live.”

The report highlights people who have opened businesses, led “incredible” sports and recreation organizations and who “continually” contribute in big and small ways.

“This campaign will be about engaging with the many champions of the community who know exactly what they love about living here.”

The report says that despite the “many advantages” to living in Prince Albert, “there is a negative view that prevails … often supported and worsened by media that report on the negativity and residents inclined to focus what makes Prince Albert undesirable.”

The report says the “accepted perception” is that Prince Albert 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.”

City administration is recommending the project have two parts — a strategy and implementation.

The strategy, administration says, will define how to approach positive storytelling, including an editorial calendar that defines topics and timelines.

The city hopes the campaign will develop at least 200 topics to profile and post about three stories per week over the course of a year. The topics “are expected to include a broad spectrum of positive stories in Prince Albert in areas such as arts, culture, sport, business and entertainment. They must capture the full diversity of Prince Albert in age, ethnicities, ability and income levels and be authentic and rooted in an honest representation of the community of Prince Albert and the people who live here.”

The campaign will be focused on social media, but also live on the city’s website as “social media can be fleeting.”

The city says it will eventually “own a wealth of editorial, video and photography assets” that can be used in the future for marketing.

The hope is to have the research and planning done by June with the strategy launched by August of this year.

The proposal notes that the city has consulted with the Prince Albert Regional Economic Development Authority (PAREDA) on this project, as PAREDA has received grant funds through Tourism Sask. to fund videos for positive storytelling about Prince Albert, and that the chamber of commerce is also exploring options for similar marketing materials.

Tentatively, the strategy is expected to cost about $15,000 while implementation costs about $35,000.

The report is one of a handful of items on Monday’s agenda, which also includes an update on Prince Albert’s bid to host the 2024 Senior Men’s Softball World Cup, a request to negotiate a sustainable funding level for paratransit, a request for supporting a nomination of the North Saskatchewan River as a Canadian Heritage River and a request for funding from the Prince Albert and Area Community Alcohol Strategy Steering Committee.