Port Royal council approves $40,000 branding, marketing agreement

emoody@beaufortgazette.comDecember 11, 2013 

JONATHAN DYER — The Beaufort Gazette

  • In other business, council:

    • Granted initial approval to a ban on texting while driving. A second vote is needed and expected in January. The town is the only place in Beaufort County where the activity is not banned. The proposed ban is similar to ones on Hilton Head Island and in the county. The ban in the city of Beaufort has stricter rules for younger drivers.
    • Granted initial approval to changing an ordinance about the discharging of weapons, fireworks and other explosives within town limits to allow hunting on large, low-density properties. A second vote is needed and expected in January.
    • Approved the rezoning 3.49 acres at 738 Robert Smalls Parkway to a highway commercial zone.
    • Approved updates to the Licenses and Business Regulations ordinance to comply with the S.C. Municipal Association.
    • Reappointed Magisterial District Judge James Grimsley, who then swore councilmembers Vernon DeLoach and Mary Beth Gray-Heyward to new four-year terms.

Port Royal will pay a Charleston company $40,000 to develop a branding and marketing strategy that defines the community and attract businesses and people.

Town Council approved the contract with Rawle Murdy Associates during its meeting Wednesday night at Town Hall. The fee was negotiated down from the $47,500 the company originally proposed, town manager Van Willis said.

"In the end, they were a good match for us, a very good match for our town and our residents," said council and Redevelopment Commission interview committee member Tom Klein.

The branding effort is spearheaded by the commission which solicited proposals and received responses from five companies.

The committee said Rawle Murdy stood out because of its focus on Port Royal's existing attributes and desire to help the town differentiate itself from surrounding communities, Willis said.

Rawle Murdy can collect information about what people are saying about the town on social media, Klein said.

That means instead of making up a brand or identity, the company can help Port Royal clarify what it already is, Willis said.

The company took a similar approach with Clemson University's Social Media Listening Center, Klein said.

"What we will help Port Royal to ultimately define is the unique core character of a community with a clear sense of place and self with enduring and sustainable strengths," according to the Rawle Murdy proposal.

The other companies that responded were Arnett Muldow and Associates of Greenville; Turnberry Consulting of Washington, D.C.; SmartMarketing Communications of Hilton Head Island; and The Brandon Agency of Myrtle Beach.

The three-stage proposal starts with establishing core values through a marketing audit, best-practices review, three work session meetings with residents and social media monitoring.

It progresses to developing a brand identity and ends with recommendations for marketing.

The branding and marketing plan is due to Town Council on April 9, according to the request. Willis said the implementation timeline of the plan would be up to the town. He is optimistic the town can advertise and promote itself more cost effectively than in the past.

"We've done more traditional advertising," he said. "That is expensive. We're finding there might be other methods of getting the message out less expensively."

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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