Introduction

Media Strategies for Marketing Places in Crisis

Improving the Image of Cities, Countries and Tourist Destinations

Living in the ever-changing world of the 21st century, crises have become a familiar problem for a growing list of countries, regions and cities. Popular tourist destinations such as New York, London and Madrid have suffered from terror attacks; the killer tsunami of 2004 swept the beaches of Thailand, India and Sri Lanka; epidemics of SARS, foot-and-mouth disease and other illnesses had a severe affect on tourism in the UK, China and Canada; and Hurricane Katrina destroyed one of the US's fabled tourist destinations in 2005.

 

In the age of the World Wide Web, satellites, global TV networks and the global economy, crises such as these are widely covered in the international media and can empty out hotels, cancel flights and leave tourist attractions deserted overnight. On the other hand, in contrast to sudden unexpected crises, countries such as those of Africa, the former communist countries of Eastern Europe, Middle Eastern countries, as well as cities and regions in more developed countries, can gradually develop negative images as the cumulative result of a problematic past, peripheral location, neglected tourism infrastructure, high crime rates and social problems. In both scenarios—the sudden downturn in image resulting from a particular crisis and the development of a gradual negative image—an unfavorable image is projected in the media and has a correspondingly negative effect on the national and international tourism industry and on the place’s economics, investments, commerce and its attractiveness to current and potential residents.

 

The growing competition between countries and cities over attracting infrastructure, investment, tourists, capital and national and international status mean that today, a negative image is more harmful than ever. Whatever the cause of the negative image, places perceived as dangerous, frightening, or boring are at a distinct disadvantage. Many decision makers and marketers stand by helplessly, frustrated by their knowledge that in most cases, their city's negative image is not based on well-grounded facts. Given that stereotypes are not easily changed or dismissed, the challenge facing these decision makers is great. Analyses of many case studies show interesting examples of places that tried to change a negative image into a positive one, in order to bringing back tourists, investors and residents.

 

Although a great deal of knowledge about crisis communications has accumulated in recent years, very little has been written about strategies to improve places' negative images. The aim of "Media Strategies for Marketing Places in Crisis" is to discuss the various dimensions of an image crisis and different strategies to overcome it, both in practice and theory. "Media Strategies for Marketing Places in Crisis" is based on the careful analysis of dozens of case studies, advertisements, public relations campaigns, press releases, academic articles, news articles, and the websites of cities, countries and tourist destinations.

 

The target audiences of this book include urban marketers and designers; mayors, spokespersons, PR offices, and managers of tourist destinations; decision makers in national level tourist bureaus; crisis communications experts; and teachers and researchers in several related fields such as marketing, public relations, tourism, media, advertising and urban studies. At this moment, decision makers from New York City to Rio De Janeiro and from Croatia to Phuket are willing to spend millions of dollars in order to create a strong and positive image for their place, to turn it into an attractive destination and desired place to live, and to receive positive national and international media coverage, but are unsure of the optimal methods to achieve these goals. Basic knowledge such as the selection of the correct target audience, the decision about the right strategy to use, and the pros and cons of different strategies can make all the difference. Similarly, destinations can downsize or even avoid the negative effects of an image crisis by knowing the proper techniques of handling the media and delivering the “right” messages during the crisis.

 

How does this book differ from other books? A careful survey of the market will find many books in the fields of advertising, urban crises, PR, marketing places, and managing tourist destinations, but none of those books combine these fields while focusing primarily on marketing strategies for places facing an image crisis. The book's emphasis on the problem of negative images and how to overcome them makes it unique and much-needed.  It important to say that this book is based on the strategic approach to public relations, stating that a change of image is ongoing, holistic, interactive and wide-scaled, requiring much more than a quick change of logo or slogan.

 

The book is divided into two parts, each containing several chapters. The first part of the book has five chapters that summarize the existing knowledge accumulated in the fields of place marketing, managing place public and media image, campaign conducting, consumer behavior, crisis management and crisis communication management. The second part of the book also has five chapters: Chapter 6 will introduce the preliminary analysis (CAP analysis) that place decision makers should conduct before choosing the proper marketing recovery strategy; Chapter 7 concentrates on media strategies that focus on the source of the message; Chapter 8 on media strategies that focus on the message itself, and chapter 9 elucidates media strategies that focus on the target audience (SAP strategies).

 

The book concludes with a Multi-Step Model, illustrating the proper choice of a strategy in altering an unflattering public image. We believe that this model is preferable over previous models because its inclusiveness; the proposed Multi-Step Model offers a detailed preliminary analysis, a variety of media strategies, and other factors such as goals, timing, channels and techniques. The large number of media strategies detailed in the model is offering a wide-range of solutions for every possible crisis.   

 

 

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