Fairfield, CT

Contact Name
Ryan Odinak
Project Dates
2010 - Present
Workshop Leader
Creative Communities Exchange (CCX) 2011
The Cultural Alliance grew out of a comprehensive cultural assessment of the region undertaken from 2005-2007 by the regional Chambers of Commerce. The purpose of the study was to explore how the fifteen towns in the region might address targeted issues as a whole rather than as separate entities. One of the eight areas of study was arts and culture. The top priority cultural goals that emerged from the study were to 1) Create a coordinating agency, 2) Assist with marketing arts & culture in the region, 3) Help build the organizational capacity of organizations & 4) coordinate advocacy initiatives. The formation of the Cultural Alliance in 2008 addressed the first goal & the launch of FCBuzz.org in 2010 was a strategy for the 2nd goal—assist with marketing arts & culture in the region.
Project Goals
What were the project goals?
The over arching goal was to assist the regional arts and culture sector with marketing. The primary strategy for that was to create a unified arts and culture brand for the region that is expressed in a variety of media including an anchor promotional website with the brand name—FCBuzz.org/Arts and Culture of Fairfield County.
Have they changed over time?
Then use the FCBuzz.org brand to: -Increase audience participation. -Provide a vehicle for collaborative marketing among nonprofit arts and culture members. -Build a sense of cooperation and joint responsibility for the success of arts and culture as a whole. -Promote creative for-profit businesses including artists along
Who are the project partners and stakeholders?
Fairfield regional arts and culture sector
Project Specifics
How was the project implemented? What were the steps taken?
All aspects of building the unified brand of FCBuzz.org were undertaken by the staff of the Cultural Alliance with support from a Board of Director’s marketing committee who brings expertise in marketing, sales, and nonprofit media development. A professional communications company was contracted to build the website under our specific requirements for elements and function. We developed the website as the anchor for the brand name over a nine month period and launched it in February of 2010 with a festive event attended by over one hundred people. Our “online media manger” does customer service to assist members with getting signed up to post on the website. Alliance members are responsible for posting all events. She watches the website and troubleshoots as well. Our "program and marketing manager" runs the marketing roundtable and manages all the collaborative buys and partnerships that have become extensions of the unified brand. The executive director oversees all aspects of the related projects and provides direction by negotiating and defining all initial partnerships.
Have they been refined over time?
Overtime—the past year—we have seen an explosion in the number of possibilities to build cooperative initiatives around the brand. We have initiated the following beyond the basic robust website: -Marketing Roundtable: Meets six times a year to promote collaborative working relationships among the marketing directors, cooperative strategies, and present capacity building workshops. -Cross-promotion of events: Through “FCBuzzGoesLive", partnering organizations advertise one featured event a month and there is an FCBuzz.org promotional table at the event to build awareness of the the website and upcoming “FCBuzzGoesLive” events. At these events we collect emails and do ticket give aways, etc. -Newspaper Insert: Partnership development of a print insert in the Fairfield County Business Journal newspaper promoting arts and culture events. Section is branded-FCBuzz with a weekly print calendar extracted from FCBuzz.org -VENU magazine: Regular feature page in this arts magazine, titled FCBuzz is contributed to highlight arts and culture presence in towns. -You-Tube channel: Produce a regular FCBuzz promotional video featuring area events and posted on the FCBuzz.org channel. Has a volunteer host who interviews attendees and the camera work and editing is done by local college student. -Bundled advertising buy for lower rates on Metro North train-line: Posters are purchased by partnering organizations and are all branded with FCBuzz.org. -Other branded advertising bundles: Offers that are currently in the works inclulde reduced costs on magazine ads, “Groupon” rates, rack card rates at tourist locations. -A weekly E-Buzz newsletter: This email newsletter features events happening each week and drives audiences to FCBuzz.org. -Joint pomotion of FCBuzz.org: Logos on member websites to promote events. -In development: A media partnership is in the works to development an FCBuzz.org blog with thirteen Hearst Newspapers in Fairfield County that have complimentary websites that host the blog. -In development: A five-minute nonprofit radio station drive time “show” branded FCBuzz—which would highlight things coming up on the weekend and connect audiences to FCBuzz.org. Also, a link on the radio station website with FCBuzz.org logo would serve as the station’s community events calendar.
What were your major obstacles?
Our major obstacles have been building trust that we are here to provide service and not competition and that working together is a good model for success.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
We have worked to reinforce this approach through building our “Marketing Roundtable” and most recently an “Executive Directors Network”. Through these vehicles we are building deeper working relationships and providing tangible benefits that are bringing alliance members together. The members themselves have been instrumental in overcoming the obstacles as they have become our spokespersons, telling other organizations to become affiliated and participate in FCBuzz.org.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
I would suggest to others that might undertake a similar project to always stress that it is dependent on an alliance and that all stakeholders are responsible for the project success. Then build vehicles where people can come together and experience deepened relationships that foster buy-in.
Project Impact
How has this project contributed to creative community building?
The impact of the project has been that organizations and other partners are thinking of how they can use FCBuzz.org to show they are part of something larger that celebrates the region’s extensive arts and culture offerings. Any one that has a clearly defined region with a significant arts and culture sector and no other coordinating agency brand in place could benefit from a similar project.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
Increase in visits to the FCBuzz.org website - increased participation.
Were there unexpected impacts?
CCX Workshop Handout