in brand storytelling
that favors place over product
Introducing the BrandJRNY Community Branding Initiative
In January 2015, the Reed College of Media was awarded a $130,000 grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to launch a project aimed at revitalizing West Virginia communities through integrated branding efforts and creative strategy. The Community Branding Initiative consisted of three pilot project communities--Matewan, Grafton and Whitesville--in which strategic communications faculty and students worked to create research-based branding plans that were unique and catered to each place. Campaigns focused on increasing tourism promotion, improving economic development, and boosting community pride. That's when BrandJRNY was born.
Most recently, in January 2018, the American Electric Power Foundation awarded a $250,000 educational grant to the
College to sustain and expand BrandJRNY's work to two more communities within its service area. The faculty-student teams will have two semesters per community to build stronger relationships and to provide trainings that foster long-term brand implementation and sustainability. Our first-year community for the new grant was Pineville in Wyoming County, and it was a wonderful, successful experience. We're currently working with our year-two community, Point Pleasant in Mason County! Follow the BrandJRNY social accounts to see what we're up to.
We send our teams straight into communities to meet the residents and build connections in order to create customized branding plans to tell each town's unique story. We conduct extensive research to form our creative and communications strategies to reach our target audiences, using a mix of social and digital media, storytelling, relationship building, traditional media and advertising to help launch cohesive brands for our communities. We evaluate our efforts along the way to both measure our successes and to make adjustments to ensure we're aligned with our audiences to best promote our communities.
Social Media Followers
WHO WE ARE
Rita Colistra, Ph.D.BrandJRNY Founder & Director
David Smith, M.A.Teaching Assistant Professor
Brand Storytelling Lead
Sam StocksdaleGraduate Assistant, Chief Strategist
Carly SmithAccount Coordinator, Social + Digital Media Manager
Amanda Workman, M.B.ADirector of Community Engagement at West Virginia Hub
Advisory Committee Lead
Erica LindsayCreative Mentor
| See project sites for student team bios. |
A team of professional collaborators advise students on topics ranging from community relations and training manuals to social and digital media. They work with students in person, through guest talks, and by phone conferences and email to provide feedback and critiques as well as to answer questions to help them on their brand journeys.
We work with towns that some may believe are past their primes; communities that are hoping to redefine themselves from long-gone industries; those that are hotbeds for future economic development; places that are up-and-coming tourist destinations; and places with kind, genuine people and a history and flavor that are all their own. Although different, they all have one thing in common: each has a unique story to share. Our job is to help them develop or redefine their identities and tell those stories so others can experience these places that they call home.
"West Virginia University has gone above and beyond what most institutions would do within a state."
- David Hatfield, Matewan Business Owner