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City Branding Part 1

10 May

I just finished reading the book “City Branding” by Keith Dinnie. It opened my eyes to how hard it is to build a sustainable brand. It takes years to allow the message to get out and for the message to remain consistent. It needs to be funded and there needs to be constant commitment.  I feel some cities and countries today are just trying to launch flashy and fun campaigns, within a short period of time, to gain instant buzz.

The definition of city branding is a combination of marketing and urban studies. The city administration must complete a strategic examination of trends in the social and economic environment before even coming up with a brand. A brand is based on city values, attitudes, behaviors and characteristics. It’s hard to come up with a brand building marketing campaign if you really don’t know much about the city.  Residents are instrumental in building a city brand, without them the brand is weak.

Lately, I’ve seen many country and city brand building marketing campaigns, and I always wonder if residents were involved in the process. Resident satisfaction is the ultimate outcome for city branding. If the residents are happy with the branding campaign then it has been a success. Residents are the most loyal ambassadors, and if you take their feelings and opinions into consideration you’re on the path to success. It takes more time to get residents, businesses, city government officials involved in the process, but it’s worth the effort.

Could you give me some examples of cities or countries doing a good job in getting important stakeholders involved?



Pinterest!! Have you heard of it?

21 Dec

Another social media tool that some may have to deal with soon is Pinterest.

Since I’m in the field of PR and social media marketing I must be up to date on all the latest trends and tools.

Pinterest is the latest tool that has been gaining a lot of momentum lately. Someone described it as the “Newest Self-Expression Engine”.

I see this tool as a way to get to know a person or organization/company on a more personal level. One can only pin pictures. No articles or text allowed. It’s the pictures that tell the story.

This is a great branding tool to let the world know about your style, tone and reputation. For example, if you’re a travel agent and not many people know about you Pinterest will allow you to express your brand through pictures. People will get to know your personality and passion, and if they like who you are then you will automatically gain true authentic customers or followers forever. Social media is all about transparency and being authentic.

My advice is let the world know about the real YOU through pictures. Once someone knows about your self-interests and about what you stand for it will make the next step of selling or promoting something quite easy.

My pinterest site is Get to know the real me!

Some quick observations when starting out in social media

25 Apr

First: Have  a strategy and plan in place. Don’t just start posting without having a clear goal in sight. If your goal is to have people volunteer at your organization make sure that your posts are about that, the value of volunteering. Post stories, pictures or interviews to get people to volunteer.

Second: Know your market. If you’re launching a product for the first time in the U.S. market do an audience profile and competitor analysis, know what the environment is like. Hire someone from the U.S. who could help with all the market research as well as provide you with their personal insights.

Third: Make sure all key players are involved in creating the social media plan. When managing social media you need to make sure that your fellow colleagues will  assist when needed.

Fourth: Before writing that first post on Facebook and Twitter make sure you know how you want to come off to the rest of the world, remember  first impressions make a difference.

Fifth: Create your company’s online personality-tone and style.

Sixth: Create FAQs and a procedural handbook on how to respond to certain questions or incidents.

Seventh: Have weekly meetings to keep all staff informed on the social media activity and to come up with the monthly calendar. At the first of the month a monthly calendar should be sent to the social media team so that everyone is on the same page.

I know these tips are pretty much common sense, but you would be surprised to learn how many people don’t follow them.

Each week I’ll provide you with some of my quick observations on social media.

Creating a Blog for a Hotel

17 Apr


So the hotel you work for has asked you to start a blog, so how do you start? Well that’s–either go to WordPress, Blogger or Tumbler and open up an account and blog away.

Well it’s a little bit more complicated than that as Social Media Guru Brian Solis explains in one of his blog posts,”Think about a blogging strategy. Sit down with the executive and marketing team, including PR and Web. Chart-out an official plan, identify prospective participants and writers, and dedicate time to making it happen! Work with sales and customer service to learn the real pain-points and needs of the market. Capture it, distill it, and publish often. Most importantly, read the comments and interact. It can only help.

At the end of the day, any company reaching business customers should take the time to understand how their products and services can help them succeed. Blogging is about embracing this unique technology and strategically and carefully opening up windows to expose the corporate culture. Acquiesce the successes and failures of your corporate evolution, in order to prove that your experience and leadership skills are legitimate, respectable, and most importantly, in line with your customer’s objectives.

A hotel needs to always keep 3 things in mind when blogging brand-building, keyword-rich and social media-integrated..

For example if the hotel you work for is a 5 star luxurious hotel then make sure all the blogs posts have that air of royalty meaning that the tone must be more formal or sophisticated. Your brand has a lot to do with the type of guest you tend to attract or would like to attract so keep the target audience in mind when blogging.

Once all the blog contributors understand the hotel’s brand and who it’s target audience it’s then time to get creative. Running a hotel requires many employees all working together to make sure each guest in the end is satisfied. I’m sure employees have many stories about their interactions with guests so why not blog about those encounters.

Also in a new Survey from Travelzoo found that 64% of people say hotel prices are more important than the destination when choosing holidays. The survey, which examined consumer behaviour, found that most holiday planning was based on price and user reviews.Of those surveyed, 93% compared prices before booking and 81% used hotel review sites.

Since people are interested in prices include words like, “deals, discounts, half-price, and contests”.  Also link those key words to the type of product, event or food they can get for the money they’re spending on the hotel.  Not all blogs should be about deals but at least make sure a few posts are about them.

Before starting the blog take a month to train all the blog contributors about the hotel, SEO (key words), and the frequency of posting. During that month invite the bloggers to meet some of  the hotel staff so they’ll know who to ask about certain issues.

After the training sessions the blogger should have a better idea of what he or she will blog about for the first month. Monthly meetings with the bloggers and the hotel staff should be built into the “blog  plan”, a good way to keep the blogger in the loop.

Remember there are millions of blogs out there so make sure your blog is one of those that  stands out by clearly stating the hotel’s brand!!!

A new tool for those in the hospitality industry

11 Apr

Lately, I’ve been traveling a lot so I’ve had time to read those in flight magazines. The other day I was on an American Airlines flight and was able to read the American Way magazine. To my surprise I found an article about the hospitality industry using social media, which obviously caught my attention.

I know there are many tools out there that focus on research and analytics but there is one research/analytic tool that focuses on the hospitality industry Revinate. When searching for an analytic tool you want to find one that truly understands your industry.

Revinate listens, learns, and acts. It starts by monitoring all travel, social, and industry media like Expedia, Trip Advisor,, Yahoo travel, etc to give you a better understanding on how your hotel stands among its competitors and others. After monitoring/listening it compiles all the data into monthly and weekly reports. Those reports are intended to provide you with an in-depth analysis of key words, trends, and competition.

Most studies say that when someone books a hotel he or she tends to read the reviews, I know I do. Reading your own hotel reviews will help in addressing important issues. But instead of spending hours reading thousands of reviews, forums, blogs, and tweets Revinate will do all that for you while you engage with your customers. Revinate will also give you the opportunity to reply directly to the reviews that it classifies as “urgent”. It’s better to put out the fire right away than have it spread any further.

It’s important to know what’s out there before creating a social media plan. Once you know what the environment is like for your hotel you’re able to better come up with a winning strategy.

My favorite Facebook Page for this month is………

27 Mar

I’m all about integrated marketing, mixing the new with the old. We cannot forget about the human side of things that every now and then it’s important to connect with one another face to face, which is why I like the Threadless Facebook page so much. Threadless is a community-based company that prints awesome designs created and chosen by you! It’s the community who comes up with the design and then it is us who choose which design should be printed on a t-shirt, a great example of crowdsourcing.

Facebook drove greater than 10 percent of traffic during Threadless’s fourth quarter when accounting for both paid and organic traffic. Organic Facebook traffic alone drove five percent of overall traffic and revenue to the website. In addition to having an active presence on Facebook to handle customer questions and concerns, the social media team also presents a weekly showcase of new T-shirts on the New Tees! section of the Facebook page.

A couple reasons on why they’ve been quite successful is because they have followed the rules of engagement. Author of the book ENGAGE Brain Solis mentions 21 rules to follow for engagement and Threadless obeys about half of them like: consistently create, contribute to, and reinforce service and value; concentrate participation where it will offer the greatest rewards for both sides; earn connections through collaboration, and the list goes on and on. I just suggest that you buy the book!

Threadless has allowed its customers to become a part of the community by creating collaborations; they don’t only want their customers to purchase their  t-shirts, but they want to create a long lasting relationship with them. It’s not only about voting on   t-shirts it’s about creating a community of those who have a passion for design.  On their Facebook page you’ll also notice that it has a list of all the meet-ups it organizes across the country where people, who have the same interests, get together to create beautiful art.

With all my clients I always try to mix it up with new online strategies as well as with human to human strategies…we can’t forget that very important component which is human interaction.

You can make money off YouTube

12 Mar

Who knew that by uploading videos on YouTube there was a possibility of making money. One of my hobbies is editing videos and recording events or interviews with my flip camera, and then uploading them on YouTube.  I’m no professional, I just enjoy making videos and seeing if anyone out there views them.

Well it seems that quite a few people out there were viewing one of my videos, which caught You Tube’s attention and they sent me the following message:


Your video Free Jovan Divjak might be eligible for the YouTube Partnership Program, which allows you to make money from playbacks of your video.

Making money from your video is easy. Here’s how it works: First sign into your YouTube account. Then, review and complete the steps outlined here:

If your video is approved, we’ll start placing ads next to the video and pay you a share of the revenue as long as you meet the program requirements.

We look forward to adding your video to the YouTube Partnership Program.

Thanks and good luck!

The YouTube Team


One reason YouTube chose me to be a part of their “Partnership Program” was because all the content on my video was original. I did not copy video, content, and music from anybody else. Many times on YouTube you’ll see that someone has added music to their video, but that music is not theirs it’s either U2 or someone else so it’s not original.

After receiving this message I signed up to be considered for the “Partnerhsip Program”. Now the YouTube team will evaluate my video to see if it could generate money, and if it can they will start to place ads around my video. YouTube will get a share of the revenue from those ads while I’ll get a small percentage, which is not bad because I never thought that I could make money off my videos. In order to get paid you must set up a Google AdSense account.

The moral of this story is that it pays to be original, just be you, no need to COPY!!! Find ways to be creative without copying anyone else because in the end you might end up getting PAID!!

EATALY Sounds like Italy

21 Nov

This past week I had several meetings with the government of Spain to see how we can better improve Spain’s image in the US. When I met with the Spain-US Chamber of Commerce we were discussing ways on how to work together and all of a sudden the director said, “Italy is great at branding itself. It just created Eataly.” I had no idea what she was talking about. To me Eataly sounds like Italy so I thought it was a campaign Italy had just created as another way to brand itself.

The motto of Eataly is “We cook what we sell and we sell we cook.” Eatlaly is a marketplace that brings in the best high quality food at a reasonable price. At the marketplace you can either buy food to take home or you can eat it right there. You’ll see a fish department next to a seafood restaruant so that you can better appreciate the food you eat. Food producers-farmers, fisherman- are able to showcase their food products. Oscar Farinetti is the founder and creator of the Eataly concept.

Eataly was first created in Italy and has been a great success. You can find Eataly in six cities across Italy. As soon as some Italian Americans heard about this concept they wanted in, especially chefs and restaurateurs Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, all are quite famous here in the U.S. Thanks to these Italian-American restauraterus and chefs there is now an Eataly in New York City on West 23rd Street near Fifth Avenue. And I’ve been told that it’s always packed.

Italians are taught at an early age about the great importance of quality. So Italians bank on QUALITY….that’s what sells. The government doesn’t need to get involved in promoting the goodness of its country its people do it for them. As you can see Eataly is proud of Italy’s good quality food products so that’s what it markets.

Now other countries need to figure out how to sell quality instead of quantity….what are some ways other countries can do that??

Changed Name of Web site to PR and Social Media Marketing

13 Nov

After taking a few SEO classes and doing some research on Google Ad words I realized that most people do not search for the terms multicultural PR. Most people search for pr, public relations, and social media marketing, pr firms, and marketing.

Since I’m on a journey to brand myself I realized that today in my professional career I’m more focused on Public Relations and Social Media Marketing. Although I still work on targeting multicultural audiences like Latinos, African Americans, Asians, Europeans, etc., this time I’m using more social media to outreach to those audiences.  Using social media is great but I still have not forgotten that to make real change and progress I must still work on the grassroots and partnership building tactics of actually meeting people face to face.

My Web site is now called PR and Social Media Marketing because of how I incorporate Social Media Marketing and PR into the bigger communication’s plan. Social media can be used as a marketing tool– bringing awareness, outreaching to many different groups, building a strong network, and creating buzz, then Public Relations is about building those relationships to create the change the client is looking for.

Let me know what you think of the new name.

My notes on the Webinar on Branding Youself

10 Nov

First of all you need to know yourself and know what you want. What is your vision, purpose, values, top goals, and attributes.

How do you want others to perceive you? Conduct a SWOT analysis on yourself–strengths, values, weaknesses, and opportunities/threats. Look at the competition that is out there and evaluate how you’re different from them. It’s very important to know your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses.

It’s easier to brand yourself when you know who is your target audience. Who do you want to impress– a certain company, person, school, etc. Once you know who you want to target  your personal brand (on how you want to be perceived) can be tailored more to them. To really get to know your target audience try inviting them to your house or an event, build that special relationship with them.

People say to think of an ACRONYM as a way to define yourself. I guess mine would be be LDHC–Listener, Determined, Honest, Curious.

What is yours??