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Business group looks to market city

POSTED: February 21, 2008 5:00 a.m.

A campaign to market Richmond Hill was unveiled Wednesday night at the River Oaks Club House. The demonstration featured the work of the Savannah public relations firm Robertson and Markowitz.

The proposed campaign would market Richmond Hill as a community and differs from efforts made by the Chamber of Commerce or the Convention and Visitors Bureau because it doesn’t focus on a specific part of the community.

"It is time to rebrand, get the energy back, get the excitement going about Richmond Hill," said firm partner Lisa Markowitz.

The campaign’s goal is to highlight Richmond Hill as a "live, work, play" community in order to position the city as the first location to consider for corporate relocation programs, Savannah tourists and other people considering relocating to the coast.

"We are going to follow the tourists and capture the locals," said firm partner Ted Robertson, during the presentation that featured several marketing vehicles and a branding concept.

Roughly 80-100 people attended the meeting and saw proposed ideas for TV commercials, print advertisement, billboards, license plates and a website that focused around the slogans, "Show me Richmond Hill," and "Remarkable living every day."

The campaign suggested Richmond Hill be marketed as a "five star community." Key points were the waterfront, public schools, recreational facilities, central location and low property taxes.

Those in attendance seemed enthusiastic and were asked to consider participating financially in the project. The marketing campaign is not funded in any part by the city and it does not receive any type of matching funds.

Those interested were encouraged to fill out a pledge sheet indicating their desired monthly level of participation. The project will be an ongoing exercise with larger upfront cost for production and implementation and projected lower costs to sustain efforts.

Roughly $60,000 is required to get up and running. The group is hoping for $500,000 in upfront contributions and projected monthly pledges so that they obtain all the marketing ideas and have the funds to continue the campaign. An estimated $48,000 was pledged before the end of the night.

The chamber will require more information about the project and a full review by its board of directors prior to making any commitments, according to Chamber Chairman Jerry Deloach. All funds required to move the project forward would be obtained privately through the business community wishing to participate and includes funds from Coastal Communications, according to Coastal President Durand Standard..

If there’s enough interest to move forward, a committee will be put in place to oversee the funding and liaison between participating members and the public relations firm. There was no indication of who that committee may be or how they’ll be selected.

The idea of marketing Richmond Hill was first considered early last year, according to realtor Angus McLeod, who said a core group was formed in September to get the ball rolling. .

Among the group’s members are McLeod, Paige Glazer, developer Johnny Murphy, BB&T Vice President Brad Brookshire, Richmond Hill attorney Michele Henderson, realtors Lynne Baynes and Santiago Carrillo and builder John Reynolds.

"Growth is going to happen," Reynolds said.. "We have to make sure we are smart about it and do it in a positive way."

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