HomeTown Aurora – High Risk/High Reward
The leaders of Bigelow Homes have a great concept, but it’s difficult to clearly communicate to the public.
The builder developed HomeTown Aurora, an ambitious Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) that appeals to a wide demographic. With such a large investment, Bigelow Homes needed a trusted PR firm to create buzz throughout the Chicago metropolitan area.
Having studied and written about this type of community development for over a decade, McElroy Associates was up to the challenge and wrote a comprehensive brochure that circulated within the target marketing area. Highlighting the environmental benefits and livability of the community, McElroy Associates presented a new, somewhat abstract concept in a concise, informative way that captivated Bigelow Homes’ core prospects.
This level of exposure resulted in immediate excitement about the development and increased buy-in of city officials; HomeTown Aurora would later receive approval for a 60-acre extension and 240 additional homes.
A Change of Perception Equals Success
A developer with two subdivisions in the same school district needed to attract families to the area, which had some drawbacks – including a high school that was wrongly labeled inferior. Unsure of the next step to take, the developer hired McElroy Associates to create a campaign detailing the amenities of the local high school where residents would send their children.
Realizing the emphasis that families place on education, and the controversial high school situation, we created an additional full-page booklet outlining the advantages of the educational facility.
McElroy Associates’ forward thinking left potential homebuyers with the conviction that the two new communities were ideal places to raise a family and that the high school offered a first-class education.
This strategy was so successful that the brochure was reprinted several times by the school district.
The Gary Green Link
If ever a community suffered from an image problem, it’s Gary, Indiana. After decades of being viewed as a polluted steel mill town, much of Gary’s industrial base disappeared. Now it is viewed as an impoverished, unsafe former steel mill town.
But Gary also has some remarkable natural resources. According to research sponsored by the Nature Conservancy, the Gary area is home to rare “globally significant elements,” including mesic sand tallgrass prairie, lakeplain wet-mesic tallgrass prairie, and lakeplain wet prairie. Therefore, the City’s environmental office hired Wolff Clements and Associates—now Wolff Landscape Architects–to plan an open space trail system linking various environmental resources, including the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the Grand Calumet River and the Little Calumet River.
The lead consultant retained McElroy Associates to develop and implement a public outreach and media campaign. By combining our expertise in land planning and communications, we helped build public support for this long-term project. Most organizations that have received “bad press” don’t understand how to get a newspaper to understand their point of view. Unless you have done something wrong, it can be difficult to get the attention of editorial page editors. However, we know how to pique the interest of busy editors. We arranged a meeting between the editorial board of the Gary Post-Tribune and our clients. The result was a very positive editorial in favor of our client’s project (attached).
And while local opinion is important, so is the role this effort could play on a larger stage. We also placed the story on National Public Radio.
Centennial Beach Bathhouse Renovation
As one member of the client team said, “Many residents think of Centennial Beach as sacred ground. We have to be careful.”
Centennial Beach is indeed one of Naperville’s jewels. But the bathhouse is too small and in serious need of remodeling. The challenge is to renovate and expand the bathhouse while retaining its architectural integrity. And an even greater challenge is creating buy-in among taxpayers and users. Several years ago the Naperville Park District sought unsuccessfully to earn public support for additional indoor recreational facilities. Therefore Park District officials are approaching the bathhouse project with a serious commitment to public information. McElroy Associates provides support for the public participation process and is heading up the media relations effort. Working with the Park District’s planning director and public relations office, we wrote the first project press release and have helped shape the overall message.
As with the Gary project, we facilitated positive news coverage, including an editorial (attached). And, so far, we have gotten an almost completely positive response from the public. Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2010.
Choose DuPage: The DuPage Regional Development Alliance
Until recently, DuPage was the only county in metropolitan Chicago that did not have a county wide economic development organization. Recognizing that need, a group of government and business leaders worked together to form Choose DuPage. Founded in 2007, the organization’s task is to help keep the economy healthy without diminishing our quality of life.
Economic development is a somewhat abstract topic, making it difficult to promote. But McElroy Associates has helped Choose DuPage get off to a good start by preparing a variety of materials, including a press kit, brochure copy and an in-depth interview with the group’s executive director. The ensuing media coverage is helping Choose DuPage establish itself as an important entity, one worthy of continued funding from both the private and public sectors.