| Total lunar eclipse on Wednesday, Science~NASA, Feb. 13, 2008
Ambassador London: top down or grassroots group?
ALT-LONDON was initially supportive of the Ambassador London concept and signed on approximately four-five months ago, while also attending the launch at the London Convention Centre last November, 2007.
Then Londoners learned that this "grassroots group" was seeking more public money over and above its initial $25,000 grant from the City of London. To date, Ambassador London has received another $30,000 from the City of London and is tentatively set to receive another $100,000 from the City when the City's 2008 budget is finalized on Feb. 21, 2008.
Last Friday (Feb. 15), Perry Ferguson, the head of Ambassador London, called me and left a message as he wanted to talk about Ambassador London and what the group was seeking to accomplish (he'd read of my concerns about the group being "top down" not a "bottom-up, grassroots-driven group"). I responded to him with the following e-mail:
Hi Perry, received your phone message last Friday.
For the sake of clarity, I signed up with Ambassador London a few months ago and attended the gathering at the Convention Centre.
Then we all learned about the funding requests to the
City for this "grassroots group," which turned out to be a bit of a PR disaster for Ambassador London.
In my view, if Ambassador London wants to receive public funding and call itself a grassroots group it needs to hold at least one widely advertised public participation meeting in order to hear ideas from ordinary citizens on how to best promote London.
No doubt the local media would publicize such a meeting for free.
There's plenty of viable ideas out there. I hear them
all the time. In fact, I have several of my own.
If you want ordinary people to buy into this Ambassador London concept, you'll need to engage them in an open public forum, where they feel that their ideas are being heard by the Ambassador London Steering Committee (who are these people on the Steering Committee?).
A website only doesn't quite cut it.
AMBASSADOR LONDON'S BUSINESS PLAN
Posted [to Ambassador London on] January 21st, 2008 by Anonymous
Ambassador London's Business Plan: A Road Map to Success
Since the success of our launch ~ which attracted nearly 3,000 Londoners ~ our team of dedicated volunteers has been preparing for the future of Ambassador London. Our goal is to encourage Londoners to boast about this great city while inviting the world to discover our spirit.
This business plan outlines our mission, goals, objectives, strategies and initiatives. We at Ambassador London feel that this plan provides us with the roadmap necessary spread the news that London is indeed a place to flourish.
1.0 What is Ambassador London?
“Ambassador London is a community-led campaign dedicated to shaping the image of London to a place of global importance and influence where all can flourish ~ economically, socially and culturally”.
This mission will be achieved by:
• Elevating community pride and passion; let’s brag about London!
• Building a distribution network of proud Londoners who will promote London through their business, organization and personal networks and generate leads and referrals for London’s economic development agencies.
• Engaging Londoners to assist, encourage and welcome businesses, investments, visitors and new residents to London and provide the tools to aid in this effort.
• Supporting united efforts to promote and market London by the private, public and institutional sectors to attract new business, residences and visitors.
We want to establish London as Canada's favourite City, but we need to start with Londoners!
2.0 Why was Ambassador London created?
• Out of concern that London is portrayed as not keeping up economically, socially or culturally compared to other cities in Ontario and Canada.
• London, and all it has to offer, is a well kept secret. London is often not mentioned and is often poorly represented when statistics or information on Canadian cities is presented.
• Londoners need to start selling their City as a great place to live, work and visit. This mandate is beyond any one organization. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising and holds the greatest potential for referrals.
• London's brand is not well established and not well coordinated.
• Government cannot be responsible for everything ~ need to get the community behind promoting our City and working with agencies. The private sector is also required to truly promote the City.
• Many Londoners travel the world with opportunities to share the London Story and need the tools to effectively promote our City.
Discussions with community and business leaders and Londoners from all walks of life supported the development of Ambassador London and the need to increase collaboration among organizations and various stakeholders.
3.0 Who is Ambassador London?
Ambassador London started with a group of strong London supporters who saw great potential for this City and who wanted to engage other proud Londoners to promote the City. This group quickly formed a Steering Committee including representation from key London organizations and the private sector. Appendix I provides an overview of the 2007 Steering Committee and Sub-Committees.
Following the formation of the Steering Committee, Ambassador London quickly grew as a grassroots organization to embrace many sectors and individuals in London.
4.0 Campaign Strategy
1. Phase 1: January 2007 - December 2007: Concept development and engagement of key stakeholders and industry representation to build initial base and establish the steering committee. Ambassador London concept launched as an internal London sell, establishing a stakeholders steering committee and a communication network for all Londoners to become engaged and supplied with tools to sell “their” London. Included in this phase was the development of the Ambassador London website, a promotional London video and commitment from 1,200 Londoners. This phase concluded with the official launch of the campaign on November 6, 2007.
2. Phase 2: January 2008 - March 2008: Expansion of the Ambassador London community with engagement from more industry sectors and community partners to increase the exposure of the Ambassador London campaign and increase the total number of London Ambassadors. This phase includes the development of additional tools for ambassadors to use to “sell” London. The development of a business plan for Ambassador London.
3. Phase 3: April 2008 - December 2008: Strategy to develop the London brand and establish common marketing messages based on research for all organizations to assist in the external sell has been deferred. The phase 3 strategy has been adjusted to reflect enhancement to the current internal sell campaign, developing enhanced tools available through the Ambassador London website and raising the profile and awareness of Ambassador London.
5.0 2008 Ambassador London Initiatives
1. Raise profile and awareness of Ambassador London to engage Londoners with direct solicitation for the campaign and an effective marketing and public relations campaign. Tactics include:
Retain a consultant/contracted person to promote the campaign who will:
a) Increase the number of engaged community leaders specifically from under-represented sectors including labour, non-profit and ethnic organizations. Leaders will be invited to an information event.
b) Establish “corporate” or “organizational” membership to assist with spreading the campaign by inviting communication specialists from the various large businesses and organizations to an information event.
c) Continue efforts to raise awareness of Ambassador London through established membership networks including Chamber of Commerce, Tech Alliance to communicate the Ambassador London message and tools available.
Communications and Administration: Enhance and manage the communication strategy by securing a professional, contracted service (approx. 20 hours per week) that will provide: Website coordination and content generation, data base management, story generation, organization of sub groups and committees, generate content for monthly eNewsletters, E-blasts, respond to website messages, work with web hosts to manage site, generate “news” stories, and maintain active media relationships working with local media partners.
Website Enhancements ~ Further develop the site to improve social networking, usability, security, search engine and introduce new on line tools including a new photo gallery.
2. Design and implement event(s) in consultation with key organizations to share the Ambassador London message, gather feedback and celebrate London achievements.
3. Continue development and enhancement of Ambassador London tools ~ templates currently in generic information ~ need to develop sector specific tools:
• On line presentation kits
• Develop industry specific fact sheets
• Print Materials
• Promotional memory stick with the video and power point
6.0 2008 Deliverables
To ensure objectives are being achieved specific performance measurements will be monitored and reported on a quarterly basis to the steering committee. Key measurements identified include:
• Data collected on specific referrals will be tracked and the economic impact of these referrals measured and reported by Tourism London, Convention Centre and London Economic Development Corporation.
• Increase in the Ambassador London database. Target is to increase by 100 individuals and 20 companies or organizations - per month.
• The number of web site hits will be measured with a goal to increase monthly. (Nov. launched with 3,421 visits; Dec. 1,455 visits).
• The distribution of the video and fact sheets will be tracked and monitored.
• Media exposure has an approximate value of $371,500 for 2008.
• In-kind donations.
7.0 How are Stakeholders Supporting the Ambassador London Campaign?
The Ambassador London campaign to date has created a number of opportunities or the platform for new initiatives which various stakeholders are pursuing in support including:
• In 2008, Tourism London in partnership with the London Convention Centre will develop a customized video focused specifically on the tourism and convention industry. Prior to the Ambassador London stock video bank this initiative would have been cost prohibitive.
• London Downtown Business Association is establishing a downtown ambassador program to be launched in the spring of 2008.
• Through the efforts of the London Chamber of Commerce WQLN, (Erie, PN) starting in February 2008 will be featuring the Ambassador London video in 85 announcements per month for the remainder of the year. WQLN reaches New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, in addition to London, Woodstock, Windsor and surrounding communities. (Value $93,500). The Lake Erie Lifestyles magazine with a circulation of 15,000 has agreed to feature a monthly London story.
• London Economic Development Corporation, Tourism London, Convention Centre, Tech Alliance, Stiller Centre and the London Arts Council are meeting quarterly to discuss shared agendas and collaboration on projects.
• London Arts Council coordinating funding for a roundtable discussion from Trillium Foundation. (Appendix III)
The Steering Committee or round table will be comprised of representatives of the various stakeholders with committees established based on the needs and initiatives of the stakeholders. The Finance Committee will monitor progress and key measurements.