Thursday, September 7, 2017

PR TIP: Demonstrating Return on Investment through Testimonials

Downtown Durham, NC
Larisa Ortiz is principal at Larisa Ortiz Associates

Over the years, we have seen many failed efforts to form Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) because potential rate payers don't see or understand the connection between the assessment they are being asked to pay and a visible return on investment. In some states this concern has led to the 
inclusion of sunset clauses and/or renewal requirements as part of state enabling legislation to ensure that rate payers have an opportunity to weigh in from time to time on whether to continue or retire their BID. I am generally in favor of what I consider "good government" efforts - they help ensure that BIDs remain accountable to those footing the bill, because to be honest, there is nothing like renewal to motivate BIDs to demonstrate their impact over time. 

Hence my interest in a recent article in the Durham Herald Sun about a recent effort by Measurement, Inc., a downtown property owner, to dismantle the downtown BID. The company requested a public hearing to remove its parcels from the assessment area.  However downtown property owners, businesses owners and residents were not having it. They came out of the woodwork to testify on the positive impact the BID has had on downtown. These testimonials offered a powerful counterweight to Measurements efforts. That said, testimonials should also be part of regular communication efforts, including annual reports, that help connect the dots between a ratepayers contribution on the real impact those investments have on downtown. 

Here are a few choice quotes from the article. 

"Larry Tilley of the family-owned ACME Plumbing Co. on Foster Street...said he has seen dramatic improvements since his and other businesses hired their own security in the ’80s. The BID has been a great benefit for the area."

Seth Gross owns three businesses downtown including Bull City Burger and Brewery, and touted the downtown ambassadors, saying “we love being the fabric of Durham, and a lot of that fabric is turquoise,” referring to the ambassadors’ blue shirts. 

And resident and co-founder of Art of Cool Cicley Mitchell said "it would be difficult for Art of Cool Festival to deliver the same level of cleanliness and quality without the ambassadors."

Great quotes for use in the next annual report, don't you think? 

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