Communication Audit Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership

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1 Communication Audit Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership Executive Summary This audit explains how Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership (CHDP) can function as a nonprofit but still be successful in bring together resources to advance and promote downtown Chapel Hill. By examining the various methods of communication, the resources available, and the strategies used this report will be able to conclude with recommendations for improvement. The introduction gives background information on CHDP. They have established numerous projects on their own, but they are also involved with several partnerships that expand CHDP s reach in the community. Their mission brings the resources of the Town, University, and the downtown community together to maintain, enhance and promote downtown as a social, cultural and spiritual center of Chapel Hill through economic development. Most of the data gathering methods involved CHDP s marketing material. They offer a wide variety of materials to promote their initiatives. The most popular is their official website, which details all CHDP campaigns. It also features extensive information about downtown businesses, services, development, and how to visit the area. Several meetings with the assistant director provided strong insight as to the motivation behind the organization. Their monthly newsletter showed one type of communication CHDP uses. CHDP relies heavily on their marketing material as a publicity tactic. While CHDP is striving towards enhancing the community, they could use a push in the creative aspect. Many of their posters and brochures are wordy and not visually appealing. A lot of the organization s resources are spent on promoting their initiatives. Having effective visual aids (posters, brochures, newsletters) with crisp taglines and eye grabbing visuals is imperative in today s world. A part of CHDP s funding comes from the university. However, a majority of the student body is unaware of the organization or its vision for Chapel Hill. Students are constantly in the downtown area whether it s to socialize, to shop, to eat, or to go out. By raising their awareness of the programs implemented to promote

2 change, students can help create more appreciation for the programs and even volunteer. As a nonprofit organization, CHDP is able to give back most of the money it earns whether it is given to CHDP through grants, donations, tax funds, or fundraising; the organization keeps enough money to cover the costs for marketing materials. CHDP works tirelessly to raise funds so that it can continue to improve upon the social, cultural, and spiritual center of Chapel Hill. Overall, CHDP is a well-received organization that strives for change in order to better the downtown community of Chapel Hill. Local businesses are supportive of the changes CHDP seeks and of the educational and social events CHDP holds. With the help of several partnerships, CHDP is able to continue their success and find new ways in growing downtown Chapel Hill. This audit hopes to focus on the success CHDP has found, to encourage new strategies in areas that need communication improvement, and to strengthen the marketing tools that have already been established. Introduction Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership is a nonprofit organization that helps change and evolve downtown Chapel Hill. By bringing in recourses from the town, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the downtown businesses, CHDP is able to enhance the social and cultural atmosphere of downtown. CHDP role is to preserve and strength downtown s vision, as well as leading it toward better sustainability and a denser growth. Through education, promoting change, initiative campaigns, and promotion, CHDP is able to build a better downtown community. Through their motto Driving Downtown s Destiny, CHDP has been able to successfully reach many of their goals. Even though it s a nonprofit organization, CHDP is able to accomplish many of its objectives through multiyear campaigns and with the help of the Chapel Hill community. The CHDP Board of Directors helps oversee all of the projects and makes sure that they are inline with what downtown merchants, students, customers, and residents hope to see. The thirteen-member group meets the second Wednesday of every month at the Morehead Planetarium. Not only is this organization promoting change, they also work to help the businesses along Franklin Street and the various events that happen in the downtown area. Some of these events take place in the heart of downtown; others take place on the university s campus or in surrounding neighborhoods. Not only does CHDP manage its own events, it also helps promotes the events put on by downtown businesses.

3 CHDP is funded through an appropriation from the town of Chapel Hill, the university, through the downtown Chapel Hill Municipal Service District tax. Much of the funding is also received through personal and business donations. Since the beginning, CHDP has been hard at work with bettering the downtown community. Over the years, they have established numerous campaigns that depict CHDP s goal. Here are the major campaigns currently being developed and promoted: 1. Franklin Street Comes Alive!: This initiative is a special 6-week pilot program that was launched in late summer Every Friday and Saturday night, local musicians will play in designated outdoor areas in order to support downtown businesses as a thriving cultural destination. 2. Real Change From Spare Change: This collaborative initiative is designed to help raise funds from spare change in order to continue the street outreach work currently being done in Orange County. The campaign also strives to educate the community and university students about the issues of homelessness and panhandling. 3. Downtown Business & Property Owner Listening Sessions: CHDP hosts quarterly listening sessions for downtown merchants and property owns. These sessions allow the businesses and owners an opportunity to talk about any problems, achievements, or ideas for improvement. 4. Painted Walls Project: This mural restoration project is aimed at restoring the murals in the downtown area. The murals represent the history of Chapel Hill; the first mural finished in Cigarette Litter Prevention Program: Volunteers help count every cigarette butt located anywhere along the east and west end of Franklin Street in order to keep the area cleaner and greener. 6. West End Valet Parking Service: This parking service began back in January of Valet parking is available on the west end of Franklin Street for five dollars or for free to patrons of participating businesses with a validated parking receipt. 7. Good Neighbor Initiative: Community members, the local police department, and various university groups established this initiative with the hopes to make Chapel Hill neighborhoods a place of pride and safety. 8. TouchDowntown Chapel Hill: This joint partnership with several other organizations is aimed at encouraging football fans to start early and stay late in Chapel Hill. 9. Locally Grown Movie and Concert Series: A summer series of live concerts and outdoor movies with local artists and activities for the whole family. The goal is to promote the community by encouraging families to come spend time downtown.

4 Methodology Gathering data for this audit for very straightforward and the following resources were used: I. The Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership website (www.downtownchapelhill.com) This website includes a broad variety of everything CHDP is involved in. It is very interactive and allows the viewer to access any information about the downtown Chapel Hill area, including information about all businesses, arts programs, on-goings at the university, services, development, and visiting Chapel Hill. A lot of information for the audit has come from this website; the site displays facts about every campaign CHDP works on and how it is promoted in the community. II. Annual Reports These yearly reports detail everything CHDP did in the past year. It includes major accomplishments, information about Chapel Hill s growth, details about CHDP s budget including fundraising, downtown property values, information about a few newly implemented programs, and a letter from the Board of Directors Chair. III. Press Releases and Announcements These formal documents have been helpful in seeing how CHDP wants their campaigns to be viewed in the public s eye. Even though they are short in length, the press releases give good insight as to what CHDP is currently developing. Their press releases vary from featuring a local concert to expressing their excitement for a new business opening. IV. Downtown e-direction newsletter This newsletter gets ed out every month to all those who ve signed up through the website. The letter details what is going on within the downtown community, current sales available, and highlights upcoming events. CHDP not only supports its own projects, but it also spends a great deal of effort in promoting local businesses, festivals, events, specials, and musical artists. V. Business Kits These kits are a great tool to get businesses on board with the various initiatives that CHDP offers. Depending on the campaign, the kit will typically include a poster, numerous postcards, a newsletter detailing the campaign, an endorsement letter, a sample press release, a copy of any Town of Chapel Hill Ordinances that are relevant, and contact information. VI. Meetings Various meetings with the assistant director in order to better understanding of everything that CHDP is involved in and how it all relates back to the main goal of CHDP. Assessment

5 Overall CHDP has already been successful in changing downtown Chapel Hill into a better community. They are constantly working to promote change and bring new environments to the area. The organization is involved in many different aspects of improving downtown, but it never stretches itself or its resources too thin. The community is very responsive about CHDP s programs as they are implemented to improve upon the nature of downtown. Over the past couple of years, CHDP has decreased the number of homeless people on Franklin Street, established open lines of communication among business and property owners, created a cultural scene among local musicians, and reached out to neighborhoods in order to promote safety. Even with the economic downturn, CHDP has flourish in its efforts to expand the social, cultural and spiritual center of Chapel Hill. Personnel The fulltime employees are extremely passionate about the organization. Their hard work and dedication is not only personally rewarding but also for the town of Chapel Hill. With only a few staff members, CHDP is able to efficiently accomplish a lot. Their environment is relaxed and inviting, allowing for collaborative ideas and lots of brainstorming. CHDP has more than fifty volunteers and interns throughout the community that help out on various projects. Website The website is pleasing to the eye, with lots of photos and easy navigation. There is a strong emphasis taken on displaying all the amenities that the downtown area has to offer. However, there is no search option for quick referencing. While some people will visit the website to browse, others go to look for a specific item. It would be much more effective to have a search option then trying to click around when something specific is needed. Marketing Material Marketing material is very important for CHDP s campaigns because they are issued to all local businesses. Many of the posters are wordy and do not get directly to the point. It is difficult to be attracted to a poster if it does not catch the eye immediately. The business kits are a great way to generate support. The businesses do not have to do anything to receive them. These kits include all of the necessary essential even human-interest pieces. CHDP use both rational and emotional strategies to convey its message. The specific program newsletters, included in the business kits, are highly informative not only about the program but it also gives background information, details the funding and financial goals, and offers real examples of how the programs have positively affected people s lives. Recommendations

6 1. Raise awareness among university students about what CHDP does and how it is changing downtown Chapel Hill for the better. Students are a major portion of the community and are a major contributor towards downtown businesses growth. With their support, CHDP will have the ability to expand and broaden their campaigns. This huge audience is a great resource for finding volunteers and interns. 2. The brochures and posters need to be more visually appealing with a limited number of words. It s important that someone can get the message by quickly glancing over the materials. Many people do not have time to stand around and read a wordy display. If the posters can display the concept of the campaign and how it will improve the community then more people will be aware of the initiative by simply noticing the posters. By displaying bright visuals and bold words, the posters and brochures will be able to capture the attention of passersby more easily. 3. CHDP has strong lines of communication between businesses in the downtown area but it could do a better job at reaching out to other organizations, especially those who help fund their initiatives. Since their mission is to reach the entire community, it would be beneficial to give regular community citizens (professors, students, families living near the downtown area) a chance to voice their opinions. By either creating an open forum or a survey to be displayed on the website, all community members will be able to give advice, ask questions, voice concerns, or offer praises. 4. While the website it extremely information, it lacks a search button. Views like the option of quickly finding the information they need. By searching through the many pages on the website, a view could feel overwhelmed with information, forgetting their original purpose of visiting the website. While some viewers visit the website to learn more about CHDP, a majority of visitors hope to learn more about one specific aspect of the organization. A search button allows viewers to quickly get accurate information.

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