Sanford Works to Rebuild Its Image After Trayvon Martin Shooting Tragedy
Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman, who is facing a second-degree murder charge (Anonymous, Associated Press / March 7, 2012)
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After Martin was fatally shot in a Sanford gated community in February, a torrent of news coverage worldwide cast the city as a backward burg troubled by racism, angry protesters and an inept Police Department that did not arrest neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who is half white, half Peruvian, for killing the unarmed African American teenager.
Sanford merchants saw sales decline, customers canceled reservations at restaurants and fewer shoppers browsed downtown streets.
Now, Sanford officials are putting together a public relations effort to proclaim that the Seminole County seat is still "The Friendly City" touted by its slogan.
"There was a perception spurred by the media coverage that the city, particularly the downtown area, was on the verge of unrest. But nothing could be further from the truth," said Nick Mcray, Sanford's economic development director. "We have always remained a welcoming and inviting environment for visitors and businesses."
Sanford has helped create a 14-member group, called the Positive Marketing Partner Panel, that includes business owners, representatives of nonprofits, Chamber of Commerce leaders, tourism officials and city employees.
The city also has spent $10,000 to hire the Lake Mary marketing firm Stephenson & Associates to help guide the campaign. The firm has come up with a tag line that will appear on advertising and other promotional efforts: "Friendly Sanford ... A lot to like."
The panel's ideas have included launching an advertising blitz on radio, television, billboards and in print; using social media such as Facebook to promote Sanford; and setting up a camera at the downtown Historic Sanford Welcome Center so visitors can record 30-second testimonials about their experiences. The recordings could eventually be part of an ad campaign.
Source: LA Times | Martin E. Comas, Orlando Sentinel
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