ALPENA - The marketing team for the Alpena Branding Alliance hosted a special meeting on Thursday that called together local media in an effort to coordinate an effort to help educate and update residents as the branding effort and community plaza effort moves forward. Media also were asked to provide opinions, suggestions and share insight to how the community is responding to the new brand "Alpena: Sanctuary of the Great Lakes."
The marketing team, which is a branch of the Alpena Branding Alliance, is made up of Betsy Silver, Sarah Morrison, Jacque Edwards, Mary Beth Stutzman and Stephanie Gandulla. Silver said having a close relationship with the media was important, because it is a primary way to connect to the people in the area.
"We wanted to gain the knowledge to see how this effort may be different than previous efforts and to get feedback as to what would be the best way to keep the community involved and let them know what is going on," Silver said. "We also wanted to go over the goals of the branding effort."
Silver said the media also provided some perspective as to how the community has reacted to the new brand and offered ideas on how to involve the people and get their thoughts. Some of the ideas included an app for smart phones and tablets, having opinion polls on social media sites dedicated to the branding efforts and promoting Alpena as a prime winter destination.
"We are designing a website and a Facebook page which will allow for us to have conversations with the people from the community," Silver said. "I liked the idea of using pools to gain public opinion for certain things we might be doing. We want the community input and for them to take ownership of this, because we want this to be for the community first and then the visitors."
There will be a special event on Tuesday called "Plaza Palooza" that will be held at Art in the Loft. The meeting will provide an opportunity for community members to share ideas about what the plaza should entail with the design team from Michigan State University. Silver said the more ideas shared the better the plaza design will be.
"Everyone in the Alpena community and surrounding area are invited and it is basically a public forum about what people would like to see in a public plaza in Alpena," Silver said. "No idea is going to be too big or too small. We just want to get feedback from the community because it will be a place for them to hang out and take their families to, so this is their opportunity to chime in about what they would really like to have at the plaza. I think it is going to be really cool to hear what the people come up with. We have ideas, but I know we are going to get ideas that we never thought of."
The forum will be at the Art in the Loft and begins with hors d'oeurves at 5:30 p.m. and the discussion beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.