As part of Connecticut’s Industry Cluster Initiative led by the Governor’s Competitiveness Council under the direction of the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), CERC was contracted in 1999 to implement the marketing and public relations of an outreach campaign with the tagline of You Belong in Connecticut. Still in progress, the campaign is multi-media based and multi-faceted, targeting workforce and businesses, as well as specific industries. The campaign to date has resulted in strong awareness with the establishment many public-private partnerships that have helped spread the word about the great reasons for living, working, playing, and learning in Connecticut.
In setting an economic competitiveness strategy for Connecticut, DECD and the Governor’s Council recognized the need for a long-term, sustaining message to market Connecticut and its advantages. When CERC and DECD began a plan for outreach in 1999, business in Connecticut indicated that their greatest competitiveness challenge was the necessity of skilled workers. Connecticut’s youth (high school seniors, college students and recent graduates) were identified through research as the state’s biggest loss of workforce. The state’s plan for outreach also called for addressing the business community, especially in-state companies that potentially would relocate out of Connecticut, out-of-state companies that were considering Connecticut for a new location, and new companies that were just starting up. In 2001, Connecticut bioscience and technology sectors approached DECD with the need to promote Connecticut as a “hot spot for technology.” These factors formulated the foundation of the You Belong in Connecticut campaign.
Working with DECD, CERC created several strategies to address workforce (youth) and business audiences. The longevity of the You Belong in Connecticut campaign has been largely dependent upon multimedia efforts, community outreach and partnerships, including:
- Web presence: www.YouBelongInCT.com
- TV commercials (airtime donated locally by Cablevision and nationally by ESPN)
- Radio spots (company profiles, YBIC Web site promos, announcement sponsorships)
- Print advertising (Connecticut Magazine, CT Business Magazine, college phone books)
- Billboards (i.e. Hartford Civic Center, Bridgeport Arena), bus cards, aerial banners
- Trade shows (including Gartner’s Symposium/ITXpo, Crossroads, CTC Techxpo)
- Special events (including the Greater Hartford Open, Big E, Pilot Pen, Meadows concerts)
- College fairs with Connecticut Innovations and Connecticut Student Loan Foundation
- Posters in high schools across the state
- Merchandise (giveaways and for purchase, promoted via Web)
- Logo placement on:
- SNET phone directories & billing statements
- United Illuminating and CL&P statements
- Webster Bank statements and ATM kiosks
- Higher education collateral
- Chamber of commerce material
Leveraging relationships with organizations which could provide non-monetary support for promoting the You Belong in Connecticut message was, and still is, an important factor in making the initiative an ongoing success, especially in times when budgets have been minimal.
The You Belong in Connecticut campaign has become a successful, long-term effort to position Connecticut as a great place to live, work, learn and play among many audiences, both in-state and out-of-state. Studies following the campaign’s early efforts showed extraordinarily high levels of awareness among youth. After only 10 weeks, awareness of the You Belong in Connecticut message reached 46 percent among high school students, 51 percent among college students and 43 percent among young professionals. With the debut of two commercials featuring Governor John G. Rowland with the You Belong in Connecticut message in 2001, awareness numbers increased to 65 percent and hits to www.YouBelongInCT.com skyrocketed. An awareness study among businesses during the second phase of the campaign showed that more than 50 percent of businesses surveyed were familiar with the marketing campaign. During the third phase promoting Connecticut as a high-tech hot spot at Gartner’s national technology trade shows, surveys of attendees who visited the Connecticut booth reported that more than one out of two had an enhanced perception of Connecticut’s image as a hot spot for technology. The campaign’s success has been recognized over the last five years with numerous awards from the American Economic Development Council, Northeastern Economic Developers Association, Public Relations Society of America, American Marketing Association and New England Cable Association.