PROSPER PORTLAND (formerly Portland Development Commission)

On May 10, 2017, the Portland Development Commission announced its new name: Prosper Portland. It reflects a strategic shift for an agency that, for 59 years, has led the city’s urban renewal and economic development efforts.

Before the new name came to be, PDC engaged Weinstein PR/BRINK Communications to form a communications strategy that would:

  1. Increase awareness and support for its projects, programs and initiatives.
  2. Ensure that PDC’s communications (from individual meetings to open houses to media and collateral) are aligned and effective, and that they address misperceptions and concerns.
  3. Help PDC understand priorities from partners that might augment/impact how PDC does its work going forward and inform whether PDC needed to update its brand and identity.

The research included:

  • In-person and phone interviews with 35 stakeholders
  • Online survey of 170 additional stakeholders
  • Conversations with PDC partners and staff
  • Three focus groups (in collaboration with DHM Research): two with residents of color and one with local business owners of color
  • City-wide phone survey (also with DHM) of 400 Portlanders

As a result of this listening, we built a “Case for Change” for PDC – what they needed to do, from addressing perceptions to radically changing its culture and do more than just rebrand. Those recommendations were essential to the agency’s work and decision-making.

Three key takeaways from Weinstein PR/BRINK’s research that can easily apply to other community organizations:

  1. Focus on Outcomes/Benefits
  • Provide audiences with a clear understanding of outcomes PDC delivers to people/ communities (e.g. more jobs, stronger businesses, better communities, preserving income diversity).
  • Answer the question clearly: How does PDC make Portland better?
  • Highlight and report regularly on jobs and housing development, neighborhoods served, number of diverse workers and businesses supported, etc.

on Outcomes a high-level definitihat frames the organization’s work and provides audiences 2. Simplify the Message, and Permeate All Channels and Formats

Utilize a clear outcomes-focused messaging across all PDC communications (web, email, digital, video, print, earned media, collateral, face-to-face, etc.). Focus the message to concisely and directly define the needs it meets, with strong emphasis on the outcomes produced.

  1. Engage Employees First

Tell them the plan, where senior management is taking them, and the role they play. Listen to them. Their first-hand experiences and insights can inform changes that positively impact perceptions. Create training for staff on communications and brand management.

After the Weinstein PR/BRINK/DHM team presented our findings and recommendations to PDC, we:

  • Helped develop communications tools for leadership to further engage its staff and stakeholders.
  • Continued to engage PDC employees and external stakeholders throughout a brand identity development and design process.
  • Provided a selection of new names and taglines to reflect its new strategic priorities.

Weinstein PR then designed Prosper Portland’s new logo, graphic visual center, performed an audit and made recommendations to update existing agency board report templates, and other materials.

Watch Prosper Portland Executive Director Kimberly Branam address the agency’s strategic plan, name change and focus on equitable economic development [Prosper Portland created video].