So we’re coming off a pretty big couple of weeks, huh, Nashville?
The opening of the Music City Center gave us another feather in a cap that is starting to make us look like quite the peacock. With all these people telling us how wonderful we are (I’ll spare you the many links), I guess it only made sense to open a 1.2 million-square-foot building and admit, with a sheepish grin, “Yeah, we are pretty great.”
As I looked out from one of the balconies of the MCC last week, I wondered how newcomers to Nashville would see the city through the prism of this new entertainment district. How would their version of Nashville compare to mine?
We have a great opportunity – and, perhaps, a responsibility – with the Music City Center to ensure our visitors experience the Nashville that we enjoy every day. I think the powers-that-be recognized this, and there are hearty doses of local flavor throughout the building. The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. The $2 million in art installations. The architecture that gives the feeling of being inside a guitar (or maybe a whale). And it’s a good sign that the first big event in the center will be our local Music City Sports Festival.
Is it going to feel touristy? Sure. The MCC is surrounded by hotels, honky-tonks, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Bridgestone Arena. Convention visitors to our city are still going to get the amped-up, ABC television-show version of Nashville, and that’s OK.
But as the city continues to market the MCC and the great new amenities around it, we would do well to incorporate the little things that make Nashville what it is and what it’s becoming. Mention in its promotion that you can escape up to Rolling Mill Hill for great views, some awesome coffee and food from one of the best chefs in the country. Encourage intrepid B-Cyclers to make it over to Five Points, or Jefferson Street, or Centennial Park. Remind them to catch a baseball game at that old college-days couch of a stadium we keep meaning to replace (and to grab a burger at Gabby’s if they’re lucky).
City leaders have made it a point to say that the MCC is for Nashvillians to enjoy. Just as important, let’s make the MCC a place for visitors to enjoy Nashville – the Nashville we know.
By Colby Sledge
On a recent trip to Atlanta to visit friends and catch a ballgame, I saw the city a little differently than in previous trips. Our work with NashvilleNext, the countywide plan to determine Nashville’s civic planning over the next 25 years, has forced me to notice my built environment a lot more. Now, whenever I see new developments or empty storefronts, I think about returns on investment, density levels and public-private partnerships. Really nerdy stuff, I know.
As we drove through the mega-highways that connect Atlanta and its seemingly endless suburbs, I remarked to my wife that such urban sprawl was a planner’s nightmare. On our way to our friends’ house, we passed construction to extend six-lane highways even farther away from the city. As anyone who has been to Atlanta knows, few people (less than 10 percent of the metro Atlanta area population) actually live within the city limits. Residents define themselves by their suburbs and surrounding counties, and attached to those locations are subtexts regarding income levels, demographics and overall quality of life. Those realities are not unique to Atlanta, but they are perhaps more pronounced due to the city’s many tentacles.
In Nashville, we often remark that we never want to be like Atlanta when it comes to traffic and sprawl. But there are positive examples we can take from Atlanta as we consider what kind of city Nashville wants to be. Inside the Perimeter (as the notorious I-285 is called), we found neighborhoods that incorporated housing for a variety of incomes, as well as restaurants and small retail that encouraged foot traffic. Atlantic Station, a mixed-use Midtown development on the site of the old Atlantic Steel mill, has gained attention for its focus on reuse, energy efficiency and density. (It also attracts a jealous side-eye from Nashville toward its IKEA.)
As is often mentioned at NashvilleNext events, our population is going to increase by more than a million people over the next 25 years. Surrounding counties like Rutherford and Williamson will grow at a faster rate than Davidson, but the jobs will continue to be in Nashville. We’re going to have more commuters, meaning we’re going to have to come up with solutions that use our existing infrastructure – our highways – and encourage sensible transit options. That’s where we can avoid a lot of the gridlock and asphalt that Atlanta has created.
But we’re also going to need to create spaces that allow people to live, work and play where they are, without having to spend a disproportionate percentage of their income on transportation and housing. We can look at Atlanta’s examples like Virginia-Highland and Atlantic Station to see what we can incorporate both within our urban core and in our suburbs.
NashvilleNext is encouraging such discussions in a very accessible and open way. You don’t have to be a city planner to get involved; you just have to care about your community. You can join NashvilleNext online on Facebook, on Twitter and through our online conversation hub, talk.NashvilleNext.net. We can learn a lot from cities like Atlanta as we plan for the future, but it’s going to take everyone’s involvement to ensure we create a plan that is uniquely Nashville.
March 15, 2013
By David Fox
At MP&F, we often say that we take a campaign approach to communications. But what does that mean? Are we referring to political campaigns? In a word, yes.
MP&F was started by a group of people who’d all worked in and around political campaigns before joining the company, and we discovered that political campaigns are amazing laboratories for incubating new communications tools and applications, taking them to scale in real time and proving their value, or lack thereof, in very measurable ways.
Did your candidate win? If so, then chances are your strategies worked. And the best campaigns are typically those that not only have great tools, but have all of those tools working together in a synchronized way. So the advertising and the speeches, the tweets and the news conferences, the Op-Eds and the direct-mail pieces and the off-the-record backgrounders with reporters are all operating like pistons in the same engine that’s firing on all cylinders.
When we say MP&F takes a campaign approach, that’s what we’re talking about. Being able to see the big picture and having the ability to deploy the right tactics at the right time to move the campaign closer to its goal of winning, however that is defined.
Some organizations come to us in search of a simple strategy – for example, a Facebook strategy to get a message to friends of the organization, or an ad to make people aware of an event. And we are happy to offer those services, because we have excellent graphic designers and social media practitioners, among other experts, who can turn around ads and Facebook plans in short order.
But what we have found is that those individual strategies work best when they are part of a coordinated campaign, when all of the messages and all of the delivery mechanisms are synced up and they flow out as part of one, over-arching strategy.
It’s like cooking biscuits. This morning I cooked a batch of Mary B’s Frozen Biscuits – which I highly recommend – and on the package were these words: “Placing our biscuits together with sides touching will increase their rise during baking.”
Biscuits rise during baking, but they rise more when they touch each other. Communications strategies are like biscuits. They work better when they work together.
July 16, 2012
McNeely Pigott & Fox is celebrating 25 years in business during 2012, and one of the ways we’re celebrating is by answering the 25 questions we are most asked about our business.
Question 6: How do you start a career in PR?
As an MP&F intern coordinator, I work with young, eager people who are itching to get into the field of public relations. I enjoy the process of mentoring our interns and watching their development throughout each semester. Some of them are dying to fulfill their Samantha Jones career dream (let me tell you, NOT going to happen) and can define every PR term imaginable, from “news release” to “grassroots campaign.” That’s a great start, but what does it really take to snag that entry-level PR job?
Internships. Whether it’s writing for a school, club or local community publication or interning in a large firm, on-the-job experience is key. You can learn only so much in the classroom. Start your internships early, and try several different places to figure out which type of environment suits you. You may find you enjoy working for a nonprofit, in a corporate setting or at a small agency. Check out websites like Intern Sushi for available intern positions and tips. Also, visit your university’s career center to practice job interviewing for that big internship.
Networking. Ask a PR professional to have coffee with you. Pick their brain. Ask about what they look for in entry-level candidates and what you can do to be prepared after graduation – though your job search should start well before you graduate. Also be sure to take advantage of job shadowing. It’s a great way to make new connections and find out more about different companies.
Portfolio. Be sure to create a strong portfolio to showcase all of the hard work you’ve put into your internships and education. Include several different types of writing samples (news releases, blog posts, brochure copy), resulting media hits, PR plans, social media campaigns and anything else you have worked on that is relevant to the job you are applying for.
Intangibles. There are several key skills that PR pros must possess. Weak writers need not apply. Digital media experience is a requirement these days. You must be detail-oriented, able to multitask, hard-working and a team player. Positive attitudes are essential, as well as the willingness to go the extra mile. Standing outside in the rain to direct traffic at a Saturday event? No big deal. Media calls at 5 a.m.? Done.
Take it from a girl who started her PR career by Googling “What is a news release?” and “What can I do to get an internship at a top PR firm?” The Google results led to three internships and one big interview on the 28th floor of a high-rise in downtown Nashville. It will take persistence, hard work and a positive attitude, but you will get there. Samantha Jones will have nothing on you.
Already working in PR? How’d you get your start?