10 Reasons Economic Development Needs PR

Economic development is a complex industry with a myriad of functions and considerations. Never was this clearer to me than after completing two and a half days of intensive training as part of the Ohio Basic Economic Development Course in April. Strategic economic development should focus on three key areas: community development, traditional economic development (business attraction) and business retention and expansion. But all too often, strategic marketing communications and PR are left out of the equation. Here are 10 tips — several for each of the core economic development functions — for how you can use PR to boost efforts in your region.

Community Development

  1. Ensuring a healthy community directly impacts business attraction and retention. Use PR to find and celebrate community stories to help build goodwill and a sense of place. Work with your local and regional media to highlight all the good in your community and region.
  2. Involved, engaged citizens are a key component of a healthy community. Use social media to reach out to and solicit input from your residents.
  3. The healthiest communities have a collaborative leadership group that meets frequently to guide and celebrates successes. PR can help find the right players and form creative partnerships to promote community development.

Business Attraction

  1. Encourage entrepreneurship in your community through media outreach and coverage of successful startups and how your region helped them. Positive stories of past successes will help generate more new business starts.
  2. Publicize workforce development initiatives. Help residents build skills, improve job opportunities and attract companies and site selectors through news coverage of unique and innovative work readiness programs.
  3. Use content marketing and social publishing to tell your region's story and attract new businesses. Look at Team NEO in the Cleveland, Ohio area for some great examples — they have a thriving inbound marketing program.

Business Retention & Expansion

  1. Showcase your region's existing business success stories in media outreach and content campaigns. Use PR to build and solidify these relationships and show them some love.
  2. Use social media to thank, amplify and share content from your region's businesses. Remain engaged and lift them up in your social publishing efforts.
  3. Meet with local CEOs to hear their issues and help problem-solve. Show long-term commitment to their business.
  4. Celebrate the results and successes of your region's businesses. Congratulate them on milestones and accomplishments through local newspaper ads, news releases, social posts or even a news conference. Their continued success is your success.

How are you using these or other PR tactics to enhance and improve your region's economic development strategies? If you're not, we'd love to help.