City for Champions event at Library 21c
In December 2013, Colorado Springs received a $120-million tax credit award from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade to help fund four major tourism projects – the U.S. Olympic Museum, Air Force Academy Visitor Center, UCCS Sports Medicine Facility, and a downtown, multi-use stadium.
We were hired in early 2014 to develop and implement a strategic public relations plan to build community support. The program included PR, social-media management, event coordination, website development and maintenance, video production and collateral development. In addition, City for Champions held monthly public meetings, and they wanted us to build excitement around them and increase attendance.
We decided to shift the public meeting format from a presentation style to an interactive style – and we planned to make the atmosphere festive, more like a celebration than a generic public meeting.
To that end, we planned to begin the meeting with a musical performance, followed by a skit, and an illustrator drawing the suggestions people made on a huge canvas. Stations were set up, so attendees could mingle and speak one on one with representatives from each of the four projects, offering their own ideas for growth in conjunction with the City for Champions projects.
Other stations offered information on our Sister City, Ancient Olympia, Greece, the United States Olympic Training Center (with athletes signing autographs), a general table where people could hear about funding, plus a station for kids to create art showing their vision for our city.
Also, we sent out a news release, placed ads, and promoted the event on social media and community calendars.
Beginning with a spirited rendition of “City for Champions,” performed by talented Colorado Springs Conservatory singers, the high-energy Public Meeting on August 19, 2014, at Library 21c, attracted the largest crowd to date.
In an open-house format, nearly 300 people energetically collaborated on ways our community could benefit, including the economic and revitalization potential following C4C projects.
During the event, local artist Matt Rebel drew a large illustration of the multiple ideas for Colorado Springs offered by attendees, including a downtown trolley, elevated solar-panel roadway, Science Center, Children’s Museum, enhanced and dedicated urban bike lanes and more.
Local businessman Justin Burns had the audience laughing with his live skit, “A Day in the Life of a Young Professional,” a fictitious and futuristic account of what it would be like to live in Colorado Springs after the City for Champions projects and resulting restaurants, downtown apartments, more retail and other developments were built.
This event and City for Champions received widespread positive media coverage – even from media outlets that had formerly taken a negative stance toward the projects and publicity efforts.
Also, our social media efforts were highly successful. On Twitter, the number of impressions jumped from a couple of dozen to 520 just before the event and 1, 132 during the event. Facebook impressions jumped from an average of 1,000 to 4,635 and 5,353 during and shortly after the event.