WESTBROOK — The economic development team has taken on a new role in promoting the city: They’re producing award-winning marketing campaigns, from start to finish, in-house.

Tina Radel and Dan Stevenson, center, hold their award. To their sides are representatives from IEDC. Courtesy photo

Rather than contract out the work to private agencies as the city has done in the past, Economic Development Coordinator Dan Stevenson and Marketing and Communications Manager Tina Radel have been relying on their own talents.

“We don’t have to farm out our work, we have talent in-house. We end up saving money that way, too, and we have quality work,” Stevenson said.

“They have done some fantastic work for Westbrook, and they’ve brought some great projects to the city and continue to do so,” Mayor Mike Sanphy said.
“Dan was certainly right for the job, and (Radel) is great.”

Their work is being noticed outside of the city as well.

The International Economic Development Council recently awarded Westbrook with two gold awards, its highest recognition. The Indiana-based council, one of the largest groups in the world connecting economic development professionals, presented a gold award in the digital media category for the “Westbrook Works for You” campaign and another gold award for multimedia/video promotion for last winter’s ice disk video.

Stevenson and Radel accepted the awards Oct. 15 during at the council’s annual conference in Indianapolis.

Radel and Stevenson give credit to the city for providing their team, which includes Barry Dodd, the community TV coordinator, with the equipment needed to make high-quality videos that pull traction on social media.

“It allows us to make professional videos and marketing materials, and the talent we have in-house is talent you’d find at a marketing agency,” Radel said. “The city allowed us to bring that marketing in-house to give us control and flexibility to do what we need to do to market the city.”

The three-person team creates their marketing campaigns from scratch, vetting and working on every element from concept to filming.

The cross-platform “Westbrook Works for You” was launched last year to illustrate the ease of doing business with the city. It spotlights a variety of local businesses, as well as the downtown and outdoor amenities. Radel and Stevenson said that campaign has been successful.

“The investment into economic development and marketing in Westbrook has already paid itself back many times over,” Stevenson said.

Radel’s video capture of last January’s ice disk in the Presumpscot River went viral. The marketing team produced a wide range of video, multimedia and social content about the ice disk, and leveraged it to attract visitors to downtown Westbrook in the middle of winter. Radel worked with media outlets from around the world and partnered with Brown University to have a webcam installed to increase exposure to the city’s riverfront.

“We were able to make that something that put Westbrook on the map around the world,” Radel said. “Up to now, the ad equivalency of our ice disk videos is about $20 million, meaning that we would have had to pay that much for that level of exposure.”

The team also has been successful in taking out Facebook and Twitter ads to pull in new viewers.

“To get the award with our Westbrook name, it helps us know what we think is right, is right,” Radel said.

“Our talented team produces excellent work and receiving two gold awards at this level validates this,” Stevenson added.

The team’s future plans include more videos about the city and possibly incorporating a talk show component featuring local figures and business owners. They also want to explore ways to engage directly with community members and answer any questions.

With Rock Row beginning to take shape, Stevenson and Radel will begin to look at a shift from marketing primarily to attract businesses to a campaign to attract tourists.

“Another thing I want to do is sort of build on our branding,” Radel said. “We have our stickers, which are a hit, and branding is important. I’d like to make some more solid guidelines on how we brand ourselves.”

“At (Main Street’s) Halloween I was giving out our stickers,” Stevenson said. “Some kids said ‘Hey, that is the sticker guy,’ and came over for some stickers, which I thought was really cool. People used to not think so highly of being from Westbrook, but now there seems to be more pride. Our drone videos add to that, too. It means a lot for people to see the city from a different view, it’s prettier than a lot of people think.”

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