Jo Ellen Litz is a communication-conscious elected county commissioner in Lebanon County, Pa., east of the state capital, Harrisburg. She corresponds regularly with her constituents via e-mail and has latched on to the Web survey tool, Survey Monkey, which starts, at least, for free. Currently, she is conducting a survey to generate a "branding theme" for her county, and it occurs to us to note that Survey Monkey might deserve to be a ready tool in any PR kitbag.
Litz is looking for a marketing theme for her county. It lies in a broad agricultural valley but once was a railroading and steelmaking center as well. There was a huge iron deposit at its southern boundary. The county hosts a Veterans Administration hospital and a national cemetery and is known for its production of Lebanon bologna. So how does all this lend itself to a marketing slogan?
So far, Litz reports (in an e-mail, of course) that two survey submissions are tied for first place: "Lebanon, PA, honoring America's Veterans -- A national cemetery, Honor Guard, Fort Indiantown Gap, Military Museum, VA Hospital, Monument Park, and Fisher Park," and "Lebanon, We're Not Just Full of Bologna." Now, neither one of these does it for us. But what Litz is attempting illustrates the possibilities of ready preference surveys (so log as you don't pledge automatically to enshrine the results).
On her Survey Monkey form, ready to be checked off, are a host of other possible themes. You also can add your own suggestions. (We like, offhand, "Lebanon, PA -- the Fertile Valley of the Iron Kings.") All this seems a great extension of PR outreach -- hearing from the public in a ready, convenient, mutually beneficial manner. Maybe you're using Survey Monkey already, but it looks like an input tool definitely worth considering.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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