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IanO
16-03-2006, 09:18 AM
Advertise and they will come
Attracting workers isn't rocket science

Gary Lamphier
The Edmonton Journal


Thursday, March 16, 2006





A couple of decades ago, when I worked for a big U.S. newspaper, I was assigned to cover a nursing jobs fair at Toronto's Royal York Hotel.

It was an eye-opener. Like 'em or not, Americans don't pussyfoot around. When they want something, they go after it.

Scores of booths were set up in one of the hotel's cavernous ballrooms, each one staffed by aggressive recruiters representing hospitals and other health-care agencies from across the U.S.

Hundreds of local nurses and nursing students crowded into the booths, eyeing splashy brochures that beckoned them to work in places like Florida, California, New York and Texas.

From signing bonuses to freebie flights back home, the recruiters spared no expense in wooing new hires. And from what I could tell, there were plenty of takers. No wonder Canada has a nursing shortage.

So here's my question: In view of the horrendous labour crunch now facing Alberta -- and the Edmonton region in particular -- what exactly is being done to lure more workers here?

Is EEDC holding jobs fairs at universities across Canada? Are the city's labour-hungry employers working together to book convention-hall space in Toronto or Vancouver to promote job opportunities and the quality of life here?

And how about the City of Edmonton, which is now eyeballing a $30-million windfall, courtesy of last year's budget surplus?

Is the city using some of that dough to run national radio, television or newspaper ad campaigns to extoll the virtues of living and working in Edmonton? Has it allocated any money to encourage more new immigrants to locate here?

Well, ah, let's see now. Based on the interviews I conducted over the past couple of weeks on these topics, the answers to the above questions appear to be: nope, nope, nope and nope. As in diddly squat.

There are no jobs fairs. There are no ad campaigns. There isn't even a single billboard on a Toronto freeway to advertise the wealth of jobs that are going begging in the capital region.

Go figure. Maybe we're afraid of being noticed.

Oh, there have been studies, and reports, and meetings. Lots and lots of meetings. But so far, virtually zip has been done to address what many economists regard as the single biggest threat to the sustainability of the province's -- and the region's -- economic boom.

At EEDC, CEO Allan Scott says his entire labour recruitment staff consists of 11/2 full-time bodies. That's out of 75 staffers. Although jobs fairs are a great idea, he says, he doesn't have the resources to organize them.

Instead, EEDC is putting its slim resources into things like websites.

"We're trying to get online labour market information and we're going to put that up on our site.

And we're going to develop a labour attraction website that's targeting migrants and immigrants, and that's going to be connected to the federal immigration website," he says.

There's also a magazine in the works, due out in September. As for an ad campaign, well, don't hold your breath. That costs real money.

Oh, city council allocated about half a million bucks last year to market Edmonton outside the city's borders. But it seems the city is still trying to figure out what to do with it.

Out there in the real world, effective national ad campaigns often cost 10 or 20 times that much -- often more. Oh well. Never mind. We'd rather pinch pennies.

On the immigration recruitment side, the picture is equally depressing. Calgary routinely attracts about twice as many immigrants annually as the 5,500 or so who move to Edmonton.

Former Edmonton Mayor Bill Smith showed little interest in the issue. At least current mayor Stephen Mandel -- and city councillor Michael Phair -- recognize the problem. Ditto for EEDC. But so far, no concrete steps have been taken.

Meanwhile, Vancouver, which already has a large Asian immigrant population, is using the glitz and glam of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games to entice even more well-heeled immigrants to move there.

That's the kind of competition Edmonton faces. We're in an uphill battle.

"The problem to me is that we're in the midst of this big crunch for jobs in the city and we're starting pretty far behind the game to catch up," says Jim Gurnett, executive director of Edmonton's Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, which works with new immigrants.

"And filling our labour market needs with temporary foreign workers instead of immigrants is not good overall for the community. It meets a temporary emergent need, but it doesn't build a stronger city over the long term."

Let's be fair. Some positive steps are being taken too.

Alberta Economic Development, for instance, has organized Euromission 2006. The 11-day tour of London, Paris, Munich and other European cities this month is aimed at luring skilled workers to Alberta.

Next month, mayor Mandel is heading to Toronto for three days, where he'll speak to local business groups and conduct several media interviews in a bid to boost Edmonton's profile.

That's all well and good. But it's not enough. Not by a long shot.

Edmonton, if you want to be taken seriously as a big-league town, you have to start acting like one. Otherwise, the world will be quite content to pass you by.

[email protected]

© The Edmonton Journal 2006

RichardS
16-03-2006, 10:04 AM
Edmonton, if you want to be taken seriously as a big-league town, you have to start acting like one. Otherwise, the world will be quite content to pass you by.

[email protected]

© The Edmonton Journal 2006

PERFECT closing sentence...!!!!

ThomasH
16-03-2006, 09:47 PM
I completely agree with Gary Lamphier we need to stand up and fight for Edmonton in the international arena.

MylesC
17-03-2006, 12:52 AM
Bingo. We talked about this briefly at the Next Gen Urban Living working group tonight. CWB has a larger advertising budget than the city. Something is severly wrong...


EEDC has done a good job at putting out the numbers in a tasteful manner, but we also need to send out the glossies. Marketing is rarely about the solid, underlaying facts...it's about the sugar coating you put on them as you shove them in peoples' faces ;)

Fell
22-03-2006, 03:01 PM
Wow, that was a great piece. Nice and refreshing to hear someone say it like it is.

Following on the heels of the cover of Maclean's this week, which makes no small claim, essentially telling Toronto so suck it up: CALGARY IS THE NEW CENTRE OF THE UNIVERSE.

So yeah, Edmonton has a lot to compete against. Not just from a brand and marketing perspective, but from the fact that, yes, Calgary is kicking our asses. A city can only push an image before you have to live up to it, which Calgary is.

I know no one in the City of Edmonton will take this seriously, but since it's what I do, I would suggest the City develop a healthy relationship with a firm well-endowed in shaping up and aiding in the brand and relationships of corporations as large as the City of Edmonton. Rather than look at this as another city, let's look at ourselves as a company. What are we offering. What do we excel at? How do others perceive us (unfortunately, too often, too unfavourably). If the ego gets in the way and they claim they "should" work with a local company, DDB would be okay to detail some effects. I adore DDB (http://www.pjddb.com/).

This is where it might get touchy. I would strongly suggest the City of Edmonton take on a global firm, with specialists, to really set the standard here. I'm not knocking the local talent, but from a social and business standpoint, it takes someone to set the bar for others to work towards.

I'm just throwing names of well-known firms out here, but why can't Edmonton work with a firm like Pentagram (http://www.pentagram.com/) and it's associates, or IDEO (http://www.ideo.com/), both of which I am particular fond of. There are a number of really excellent firms out there that the City, as a corporation, could develop a working relationship with. I have copies of the branding and strategy guides for universities, cities such as Milan and NYC, and persued numerous others. If we truly want to compete nationally or globally, why are we not making use of the tools that other such competitors are?

As a company, the City is really not in any position to market itself against the likes of heavy-hitters. We seem to be running solely off the fact that there is, indeed, work here, and that creates word-of-mouth.

In the U.K., the Cox Review of Creativity in Business (http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/independent_reviews/cox_review/coxreview_index.cfm) held a study to realise the potential of creativity being utilised regionally:


The Cox review was commissioned to look at how best to enhance UK business productivity by drawing on our world-leading creative capabilities. The review has consulted extensively with key stakeholders in producing its findings, including the creative industries, businesses in a range of others sectors, education institutions and regional and devolved bodies, as well as international contacts, and has received invaluable contributions from a wide range of individuals and organisations.

We're light-years behind realising the true creative potential of this city: and creativity is what leads in business innovation, in any market, in any field, when properly utilised. I really would like to see good design and consulting make manifest the spirit of the city, something in which its peoples could embrace and be proud of, in order to charge into the battle of the future of business.

And very few firms have the true capacity to capture the essence of something, so choose wisely.

IanO
22-03-2006, 03:48 PM
i honestly think we dont need a DDB campaign yet....we need Edmontonians to speak highly of Edmonton. It never ceases to amaze me how much we slag our city for no good reason and how when i talk to calgarians....they praise it.

MylesC
22-03-2006, 03:56 PM
i honestly think we dont need a DDB campaign yet....we need Edmontonians to speak highly of Edmonton. It never ceases to amaze me how much we slag our city for no good reason and how when i talk to calgarians....they praise it.

Calgarians praise their city because they have not only external marketing but internal marketing as well. The City mailed out a great glossy brochure to every citizen of Calgary showing all the services that the City provides with great photos, etc. Self-fullfilling prophecies. We need to do the same. I'm totally with Fell on this one.

Fell
22-03-2006, 03:56 PM
i honestly think we dont need a DDB campaign yet....we need Edmontonians to speak highly of Edmonton. It never ceases to amaze me how much we slag our city for no good reason and how when i talk to calgarians....they praise it.
I agree. Symbolically, however, we need a leader, someone to praise the city. Good design, in this sense, can act as that archetype and lead people to do the same.

Fell
22-03-2006, 03:59 PM
The City mailed out a great glossy brochure to every citizen of Calgary showing all the services that the City provides with great photos, etc. Self-fullfilling prophecies. We need to do the same.
I wasn't aware of that, but I agree: self-fulfilling prophecy is a good way to put it.

RichardS
22-03-2006, 05:56 PM
When I lived there in the mid 90's, even the news organizations constantly praised the city and the people and the...whatever. You RARELY heard something negative - that was nicely swept under the hype.


Calgarians heard it and beleived in it - and now you see where it is.

Fell
22-03-2006, 06:22 PM
When I lived there in the mid 90's, even the news organizations constantly praised the city and the people and the...whatever. You RARELY heard something negative - that was nicely swept under the hype.


Calgarians heard it and beleived in it - and now you see where it is.
I agree, it's the effectiveness of propaganda: tell a kid s/he's dumb enough times and they'll believe it so much that…

The opposite is just as empowering! Examples abound in studies of cognitive dissonance theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance) and the related self-perception theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-perception_theory); People will often change their attitudes to come into line with what they profess publicly.

http://www.ellenbailey.com/images/self-esteem-poems.jpg

RichardS
23-03-2006, 09:30 AM
Edmonton to spend $200,000 on self-promotion in Washington

Bill Mah
The Edmonton Journal


Thursday, March 23, 2006


EDMONTON - Alberta is the star of the party, but the City of Edmonton is sharing the spotlight this summer at the Alberta at the Smithsonian event in Washington, D.C.

The publicity carries a price.

Edmonton will spend $200,000 to pay for events to promote the city, such as a private party for 400 high-powered guests, council decided Tuesday. Another $200,000 will be sought from public and private groups such as Capital Health and Edmonton Economic Development Corporation.

"When you're able to put your best foot forward in the capital of the United States, I think it's a good investment in money," Mayor Stephen Mandel said in a recent interview.

Alberta at the Smithsonian -- an outdoor exhibit on the National Mall flanked by the Lincoln Memorial, Capitol Hill and other monuments -- is expected to be seen by 1.5 million visitors from June 30 to July 11.

Alberta is the first province to be featured at the prestigious Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The event will include performances, demonstrations and educational programs with more than 120 of Alberta's top musicians, storytellers and craftspeople.

The events and activities Edmonton is planning will be held away from the Smithsonian exhibits on the mall at a parallel business-promotional event called Alberta Week, sponsored by the province, said mayor's office spokesman Brad Stromberg.

A June 26 nighttime reception at the Canadian embassy for 400 guests will feature sample performances from Edmonton's festivals. And besides taking part in Alberta-sponsored events, the city is planning street-level marketing to build name recognition of a city seldom on the lips of most Americans.

"Our idea is on Canada Day to show up in as many places around the city as possible promoting the City of Edmonton," Stromberg said. That might mean giving away hats and shirts to raise the awareness of the city and point people towards its website marketing.

Council is also sending the mayor and two councillors.

Among the messages the city wants to deliver are that it plays a key role in the oilsands industry and "the fact that we're a much larger, cosmopolitan and sophisticated city than some people might be aware," Stromberg said.

Capital Health spokesman Mike Deising said the health region has not yet decided whether it will participate.

But the benefits would be weighty, Deising said.

Besides showing its support for the city and province, Capital Health is interested in building its profile south of the border to help recruit workers.

Calgary has also committed $150,000 to pay for a media greeting, a reception featuring Calgary and a pancake breakfast. At least one Calgary alderman criticized the spending, saying the money could be better spent on events at home.

Mandel called the Smithsonian event a rare chance to promote the city. "An opportunity like this doesn't come around every day."

The city's share of funding comes from its council contingency reserve for unforeseen, one-time expenditures.

The province is kicking in $3.6 million for the Washington event.

[email protected]

© The Edmonton Journal 2006

Fell
23-03-2006, 05:41 PM
I'm curious: who works on the marketing concepts with City Council? While the above may turn out successful, I have no idea what their goals are that they've really set out to achieve.

In the summer of 2005, Belgian designers Futurelab were commissioned by Management Centre Europe to develop a 2-day programme (http://www.mce.be/events/2126) on the cutting edge in media & marketing. This seminar has meanwhile taken place in New York, Hong Kong and Europe.

Their affiliate here is the Canadian Management Centre. I was just reading, and it seems a worthwhile endeavour to bring those currently in charge of "marketing" the city up to speed on global trends.

Seminar brochure available here (http://www.mce.be/events/brochures/workshop2126.pdf)

MylesC
23-03-2006, 10:16 PM
That Smithsonian thing is EXCELLENT! Where else to promote a city that we want to be seen as artistic, futuristic, intelligent, etc, etc?

ChrisD
24-03-2006, 05:14 PM
That Smithsonian thing is EXCELLENT! Where else to promote a city that we want to be seen as artistic, futuristic, intelligent, etc, etc?
You're absolutely right. This is money well spent imo.

But more is needed as stated by many of us.

It's time to sell ourselves!!!

WMelhem
29-03-2006, 08:37 AM
Yes we need to selflessly promote this city. We have so much going for us but we never say anything. How is a company going to know about us if we dont tell them and put ourselves at the table. They might have 10 cities soliciting them so they will look at those first and if one works for them they go there. If we are not even at the event let alone at the right table how do we expect to move forward for the future. Lets work at this properly.