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The Importance of Relationship: Getting to Know A Community

I work in two roles on the BrandJRNY team: public relations director and community relations director. As the person serving in both of these roles, I must balance the responsibilities of each position to ensure both jobs are carried out effectively. While each position is essential in serving a specific purpose, I believe having strong community relations is the cornerstone of any successful initiative or organization. But what is community relations?


Research Director Anne Parker (left) and PR/Community Relations Director Ruthie Deely (right) attentively listen during a tour of the WV State Farm Museum for the BrandJRNY immersion trip. | Source: David Smith

Community relations can be defined in many ways. It is relational, intentional, communicative, immersive, and an important part of BrandJRNY’s community branding initiative. Point Pleasant is more than a town in West Virginia. It is a home to rich history, intriguing folklore, and breathtaking views of its surroundings. However, while these assets are all valuable to Point Pleasant, the town is best defined by the people who call it home. Therefore, as BrandJRNY works to develop a brand for the community, the team must be intentional in getting to know its people. That is where community relations comes in.


In the context of this branding initiative, community relation’s primary focus is to promote and maintain relationships between the BrandJRNY team and the community of Point Pleasant. Community relations involves developing relationships with locals to initiate and maintain lines of communication as well as immersing ourselves in the town to have a firsthand understanding of community life.


There are various benefits of good community relations:

-It forms a stronger connection between the initiative and the community.

-It encourages engagement from community members.

-It increases recognition of the initiative’s mission and brand identity.

-It positively impacts the initiative’s reputation.

-It offers a more in-depth understanding of each other’s goals.

-It brings people together.


For me, Point Pleasant community members have made every trip I’ve taken to their town memorable and heart-warming. From the charm and care of the staff working at the historic Lowe Hotel to the generous nature of community members offering boat rides on the rivers, Point Pleasant locals are the definition of pleasant. This kindness and openness can be hard to come by, but it is easy to find in Point Pleasant. Getting to know this community has been a pleasure, and I look forward to continuing community relations during the rest of my time working on this community branding initiative.


A view of the Kanawha River Bridge in Point Pleasant from the Kanawha River. | Source: Ruthie Deely

My name is Ruth Deely—most people call me Ruthie. I am the public relations and community relations director for BrandJRNY’s Point Pleasant Project. I have 40 first cousins and I love catching up with them at my family reunions. Follow me through our journey — @ruthhh003

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Housed at the WVU Media Innovation Center, BrandJRNY is a community branding initiative that is a grant-funded collaboration between the American Electric Power Foundation and WVU Reed College of Media.

The Initiative was previously funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation for our three pilot projects.

Original website designed by Mariah Elliott, under the direction of PI and Director Dr. Rita Colistra.

Photos and content may not be used without written permission by contacting brandjrny@gmail.com.

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