The West Virginia University Reed College of Media recently received a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum foundation to launch a new project aimed at revitalizing West Virginia communities. The grant, worth $130,000, will assemble strategic expertise from the College of Media and other partners to provide full-service, integrated branding efforts for West Virginia communities.

The initiative will begin with three pilot projects, including one of the 2014 “Turn This Town Around” contest winners, Matewan and two other communities to be decided at a later date. Students and faculty will work with community leaders to develop a brand identity and creative strategy, with an integrated marketing communications campaign and a community branding tool-kit.

“Turn This Town Around” is a joint effort between the West Virginia Community Development Hub, West Virginia Focus magazine and West Virginia Public Broadcasting to help revitalize towns in the state through facilitated projects and planning.

Dean Maryanne Reed says this project will give students valuable hands-on experience working with community members and regional leaders to help raise awareness of and promote each community’s unique story and marketable attributes.

“This project builds on our College’s longstanding commitment to empowering rural communities through digital and media tools and strategies,” said Reed. “It will also be a key program housed in our new Media Innovation Center to open later this year.”

In addition to providing community-driven integrated communications branding work, the community branding initiative will house and distribute research results, case studies, templates, training materials, and lessons learned from individual campaigns as resources for rural communities both state- and nation-wide.

During the spring and summer, faculty will work with the three pilot communities to identify the goals, objectives and time table for each project.



CONTACT: Kimberly Walker, Reed College of Media

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