Branding paying off for Deutschtown, including house tour, festival and more
While our community has been revitalizing and reinventing itself since being sliced in half by the construction of I-279 in the 1980s, recent community branding, marketing and outreach efforts are having an impact. This fall, two events here—our 4th Deutschtown House Tour and our 20th annual PumpkinFest—helped demonstrate that and build on three decades of prior renovation work.
Our Deutschtown House Tour was competing with several high-profile Pittsburgh events that day, including Little Italy Days, the Shadyside House Tour and The Great Race. So we were especially pleased by the “sell out” crowd… and even more pleased by the comments we got afterwards.
Here are some of the strategies for and results of these two community events.
House Tour marketing & promotion
While more than 40 volunteers pulled off the tour, a small volunteer marketing team implemented a low cost, broad reach, carefully branded and targeted marketing plan and campaign.
The 2011 tour marketing strategy included:
• Modifying the Deutschtown website to feature the tour
• Posting regularly on Deutschtown Facebook
• Creating a Facebook ‘sneak preview’ gallery; creating a Facebook event & inviting people
• Posts to 16 free event list sites
• Promoting in 3 Deutschtown e-newsletters
• Personal email invitations from volunteers
• Ad & event listing in the Northside Chronicle; Ad in Mexican War Streets House Tour book
• A beautiful 32-page, take-home tour book
• 175 posters, 2,500 flyers in 151 locations; 4 street banners in high traffic areas
• Media relations in Pittsburgh to generate coverage
Counteracting often negative local news stories about the Northside, our media relations efforts resulted in the following positive coverage:
• Big story in the Post-Gazette, day before tour
• Small initial story in the Post-Gazette, week before
• Listing on CBS Pittsburgh online
• Part of a house tour story in Trib online, early Sept.
• Small story in PopCityMedia, late September
• A followup photo gallery on WPXI.com
House Tour results: community branding & marketing success
For starters, our tour “sold out” when we ran out of 750 tour books two hours before the end of the tour. So we started recycling the books of people coming off the self-guided tour.
Our GOALS and the RESULTS of the House Tour
Here are some comments after the tour that speak to the community branding and marketing goals for the tour.
• Promote community to potential homeowners & investors
Result: at least two couples are pursuing home ownership. “We can’t wait to be a part of this community!”—future homeowner
• Rebrand our community & build brand equity
Result: “…it all created a supremely positive marketing image that will help attract future investment in homes and businesses.” —Mark Fatla, Executive Director, Northside Leadership Conference.
• Build community spirit among neighbors & businesses
Result: “What a day! We had such a good crew of people! We truly live in the best neighborhood in Pittsburgh!”— one of approximately 40 volunteers
• Raise funds to support our various community development efforts
Result: The tour netted $11,000 from ticket sales, ad sales and sponsorships—all of which will go to ongoing efforts of our community development corporation. .
300% WEBSITE BOOST! Finally, because all promotions were driving people to the Deutschtown.org website and online ticket sales through PayPal, we saw a 300% increase in website traffic.
Deutschtown PumpkinFest called a “wonderful gift to the Northside”
Now in its 20th year, this PumpkinFest was the biggest and best ever and was held in the newly renovated East Commons park. Check out the fun PumpkinFest photo gallery here. (It will put a smile on your face!)
This year it drew more than 1,300 children (plus their parents), many from economically stressed families. A very special thanks to PumpkinFest originator and organizer Barbara Burns for 20 years of dedication to this event and the families of the Northside. And thanks to another great team of Deutschtown volunteers who made this major event happen only two weeks after the Tour.
IMPORTANT PARTNERS, TOO. In partnership with Allegheny General Hospital, PumpkinFest also featured the 5th annual HEALTH FAIR, with dozens of educational, recreational and public safety booths providing families with info about healthy life choices. Other key partners include Allegheny Center Alliance Church, Northside Leadership Conference, City Councilwoman Darlene Harris, Mercy Behavioral Health and many more participants.
A great comment from a Northside resident whose husband is a judge in the community: “Such a wonderful event. East Allegheny should be very proud to host this wonderful gift to the Northside.”
The meaning of all of this
These and other monthly and annual Deutschtown activities help to create a powerful sense of community and a strong feeling of belongingness among neighbors.
And after decades of work to turn our community around, we are now enjoying private development momentum as evidenced by house sales to young couples and families; new businesses like Bistro to Go, Bistro Soul and Rita’s Water Ice. We are also appreciating new infrastructure improvements such as the Allegheny Commons park revitalization and new lighting on our main street.
The House Tour and PumpkinFest remind us of what makes our community strong and are part of an important long term strategy for the ongoing re-invigoration of Deutschtown and the Northside.
Become a part of it!
Follow us on our “Welcome To Deutschtown” Facebook page. Volunteer and join other’s work or develop your own project. Attend the Community Council’s monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of every month. For more information contact the East Allegheny Community Council office: 412-321-1204.