At a time when traditional newspapers are struggling or even vanishing, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council has launched a new Web site designed to provide information that offers a complete picture of what is going on in the Valley.
One of the goals behind the formation of OGP — opportunitygreaterphoenix.com — is to offset some of the negative news coverage that continues to plague Arizona. Barry Broome, GPEC president and CEO, says community leaders agreed on the concept of establishing a communications initiative that focuses on the brand of the Greater Phoenix market.
“We’re more transactional,” Broome says. “A lot of great attributes about our market don’t necessarily get conveyed in a transactional exchange. Our reputation is tied to a lot of things that go well beyond building work force availability and the cost of a transaction.”
Working with the Maricopa Partnership of Art, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, and the Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau, GPEC maintains the Web site that enables people in Arizona and elsewhere to read stories about Arizona they might not see anywhere else.
“You can find the kind of in-depth stories not necessarily always available in a typical news environment,” Broome says. “Hopefully, it will become a social media phenomenon. Our goal is to complement blog activity and news activity in the market, and really tell our story. It’s more of a communications initiative than a Web site.”
Events of the past two years spurred the creation of Opportunity Greater Phoenix. There was concern that mainstream media were not defining Greater Phoenix in a fair and equitable way. Those events Broome mentions include the immigration debate, the housing market collapse, the impact on Arizona from the banking crisis and issues related to a state budget bleeding red ink.
GPEC Chairman Michael Bidwill and Vice Chair William Pepicello obtained funds from the private sector to launch the site. A Web publisher and a part-time reporter were brought onboard. Discussions about OGP began Oct. 1. Eight weeks later, the site was up and running.
The OGP site is designed to inform and influence the conversation about all things related to business, employment, and the economy in Greater Phoenix. It provides accurate coverage of news, trends and analysis relevant to the local economy, along with resources such as database searches, lists, links and summaries on work force, quality of life, and overall competitiveness. It will be particularly helpful, Broome says, when GPEC embarks on economic development trips to New York City and Washington, D.C. Interested parties can go to a single site and get a broad base of stories about the Greater Phoenix market, he says.
Commenting on the emergence of blogs, Broome says, “There’s not a lot of peer review to a blog. As communications becomes more organic and viral, we think it’s important that the market has an organic and viral communication device that will allow readers who are intrigued about our market an intense reading and learning experience.”
So where and how will the site get its information?
“We will be reconstituting information from mainstream media, and producing a lot of fresh new stories of our own,” Broome says. “We expect to write at least five new major stories a week. We’ll have features on CEOs, a community news site, profiles on individuals, and there may be an interactive opportunity to interface with an expert on the economy. The content will be fresh and compelling, but it won’t all be originally generated.”
As an example, Broome notes that Nobel Prize winner Lee Hartwell left the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, where he was executive director, to establish and co-direct the Center for Sustainable Health at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute.
“That’s a big deal,” Broome says. “There’s a lot more to that story. What will be the focus of his research? It’s important to the region’s reputation that the story gets told in a more comprehensive and robust way.”
Another example of a story waiting to be told involves a dynamic young woman who graduated from ASU and launched a wireless company in Chandler.She might not be a candidate for a major news story by a major news outlet, but she’s young, which addresses the notion that Greater Phoenix is a retirement community, and she’s talented, which more accurately describes ASU as a first-class institution and not a party school, Broome says.
“That story won’t be in the New York Times,” he adds. “They write about our housing troubles. And The Washington Post writes about our budget problems.”
Opportunity Greater Phoenix is more than a news source. OGP is a resource, Broome says.
“Businesses looking to relocate or expand into Greater Phoenix will find information about the work force, quality of life, policies and legislation that impact decisions,” he says. “And those looking to visit or live in the Valley will find useful information on employment, neighborhoods and arts and culture.”