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Marketing Plan to Promote West Orange Approved by Township Council

Despite contention at council meeting, administration will contract four companies for one year to promote township

Eager to promote West Orange and change what officials cite as an internal "self-image" problem, the township council voted Tuesday to approve three resolutions that would contract with four companies to help market the community for one year.  

The resolutions, limiting total marketing expenditures to roughly $30,000, were approved by a 3-1 vote. The approval came, though, after wrangling between township officials, the public and the vendors. Councilman Joe Krakoviak staunchly voted "no" across the board; Councilman Victor Cirilo recused himself from the vote for personal reasons. 

"We're putting the cart and the horse on the same starting line," said Krakoviak, adding that the plan would not lead the township in the right direction. "We're hiring four different vendors to work with us … I'm in support of hiring one good firm that would present a marketing plan." 

"If you start off badly, you're going to finish even worse," he said. 

Jessica Glicker, public information officer for the township and project manager for the marketing campaign, said the administration was trying to be "as conservative as possible." 

"We took a wide angle view to deliver the greatest value for low cost," she said. "Everyone needs to know West Orange is a great place to live and raise your children." 

Mayor Robert Parisi also came out in full support of the resolutions. Admitting marketing was not his area of expertise, Parisi said the plan was to "start small and go slow." 

"Marketing for 365 days isn't going to market the town," he said, adding, "let's take a few small steps forward and then we'll re-examine." He said the administration will likely come back for more money but "we won't until we understand our successes," he said.  

The first resolution gave Millennium Strategies and Catania Consulting Group the green light to work together to attract new businesses to the area and focus on external marketing, limiting spending at $15,000 for a one year period. 

MyTown Marketing was approved in the second resolution to expand outreach through social media. Payments to the vendor were capped at $12,500. 

The final resolution granted Signal Graphics no more than $5,000 to design a logo, graphics and promotional pieces to promote the township. 

"I think this marketing plan is long overdue, it's about promoting the town," said Councilwoman Patty Spango. "You have to spend money to promote this town."

Councilwoman Susan McCartney also backed what she called a "bare-bones" marketing plan. 

West Orange resident Clare Silvestri, though, disagreed. 

"You're approving money to do half the job," said Silvestri. She said the approved resolutions would later incur further costs to the township. "It's a bad business practice to commit this kind of expense without a substantive marketing plan."

"There are plenty of ways to do marking without spending a lot of money. Affordability is one of our issues and we should be careful about spending on marketing," she said. 

Holistic Education July 09, 2011 at 02:23 AM
I am a new business in West Orange and have lived in West Orange for more than 3 years. Every week I meet many families who are concerned about the education & what challenges new world will bring to their kids when they grow up. Marketing is an investment for future benefits. I think most businesses in West Orange like ours look for marketing opportunities. Not only that participation by local businesses in such process will improve confidence in town by the new business investors. A momentum can bring dramatic results. My point is investments should not be looked at what it costs rather what it can bring and how it can bring more.
Raymond Helfrich July 09, 2011 at 08:14 AM
So tell us: what can this 'investment' bring?
Raymond Helfrich July 09, 2011 at 04:27 PM
'Portmanteau' left me a [helpful?] [complimentary?] message on my Patch profile, and I quote it, in its exact entirety: “Haaaaay Raymond.....PR and Marketing are different. (google it) West Orange is sooooo lucky to have watch dogs like you. Woof woof.”
puppwo July 10, 2011 at 08:06 PM
If they're so different, why is the town PR person being put in charge of a marketing plan? And what do you mean Catania's "gaming consultants?" Are they PR, or marketing, or neither?
Bob DeVos July 11, 2011 at 03:42 PM
If this isn't what she was hired to do, then what service does she provide? Also, a stipend is payment, according to my dictionary.
Cynthia Cumming July 22, 2011 at 07:51 PM
PR officer was originally hired to publish the Outlook. Needs have expanded. I don't know how much she is paid, look it up. But I can tell you she puts in way over what she gets, works tirelessly on behalf of the town in which she is a resident, and knows what the township needs to move forward successfully in an economically prudent way.
Raymond Helfrich July 22, 2011 at 09:54 PM
When you say "PR officer," do you mean "Communications Director"? And, how do you know that she "knows what the township needs to move forward successfully in an economically prudent way"?!
Cynthia Cumming July 22, 2011 at 10:03 PM
the article calls her PI Officer. Meant to say "PI" not PR. and I work with her around town on several projects, know her personally, and trust her judgment.
Raymond Helfrich July 22, 2011 at 10:19 PM
So? It's two weeks later...
Raymond Helfrich July 22, 2011 at 10:22 PM
So, has everybody here watched the video of the town council meeting at which this 'Marketing' 'Plan' was discussed?! http://alturl.com/3w9n7
Raymond Helfrich July 23, 2011 at 10:28 PM
Perhaps I haven't been making my point. What I saw, in the video of the town council meeting, was that the “Communications Director” has decided to spend more than $30K (not including printing & postage?) of taxpayer money on (was it three or four?) different vendors who appear to have little successful experience marketing & branding towns. Further, that one of them was actually awarded a $15K contract without even providing a written proposal and after giving only a 30-second oral presentation–which did not include a real marketing plan–to the council. I can’t figure out why the mayor is buying into this scenario. Did anybody else, here, see anything different?
Bob DeVos July 23, 2011 at 10:53 PM
I can't see why the mayor is supporting this when he admits "this is not my area of expertise". There seems to be a problem here.
Cynthia Cumming July 24, 2011 at 01:29 AM
Perhaps there has been much more planning, meetings, and information provided than was able to be presented at the town council meeting. It is apparent that most posters here disapprove, though that seems to be the case with most everything the town decides to do.
Bob DeVos July 24, 2011 at 01:24 PM
Perhaps? Hmmmm...... There is a lot going on to disapprove of. Wait until our tax dollars start bailing out the failed Edison project.
puppwo July 24, 2011 at 07:34 PM
I was happy with taxes staying flat. I was happy with cost-cutting measures. Just not happy with throwing money at marketing when it doesn't seem that professional a plan. $40K should get pro marketing....
Bob DeVos July 25, 2011 at 02:37 AM
Not wasting our tax dollars is a constructive idea.
Bob DeVos July 25, 2011 at 02:40 AM
And what is the yearly amount of this "stipend"? As I understand it, it's a considerable amount of money for what amounts to a part time job.
puppwo July 25, 2011 at 02:49 AM
Stipend is roughly $3100/mo, almost $38K, for part-time position. exact numbers may need to be checked, but that's my recall.
Bob DeVos July 25, 2011 at 12:46 PM
38K per year is roughly what I've heard the "stipend" to be. So what duties is the Public Information Officer hired to handle? Let's hope something more time consuming than handling the Outlook!
Cynthia Cumming July 25, 2011 at 02:36 PM
wow "Mr. DeVos"... you think you know everything... why don't you set up an appointment with Mayor Parisi or stop by his open office hours and he can fill you in on all the responsibilities of the public information officer, who works many hours beyond what is actually paid for and does more in support of this township than most.
Bob DeVos July 26, 2011 at 02:23 PM
I you read my reply I was asking a question, which would mean that I don't "know everything", as you imply. Sorry that you're taking this so personally. The fact is that I disagree with the plan. I am allowed to do that.
Raymond Helfrich July 26, 2011 at 04:56 PM
'The town' should be doing fully transparent Public Relations/information-sharing--even damage-control at this point, to its citizens (who could then help to 'sell' this town, if they felt cared for)... early & often. I've seen many nay-sayers and cheerleaders, but few facts and little logic. I don't know most of the players, and I don't take sides. I'm curious and have asked many questions. I believe that the people with the answers are withholding them.
Cynthia Cumming July 26, 2011 at 06:28 PM
People can disagree with the marketing plan. That is their right. However, questioning the skills and integrity of the public information officer is a different matter, or believing that information is being withheld. I can't help but take it personally when I work (as a volunteer) with the township and PI officer; and I still suggest that you and Mr. Helfrich pay a visit to the mayor's open hours. He can tell you that the meetings are in the initial planning stages, that town council and PR commission members are invited to attend and hear what is being discussed.
Raymond Helfrich July 26, 2011 at 06:45 PM
"People can disagree with the marketing plan." *WHAT* PLAN? "... believing that information is being withheld." I'M *NOT* SUGGESTING THAT ANYTHING NEFARIOUS IS GOING ON. BUT THE INFORMATION IS *NOT BEING SHARED.* "... I still suggest that you... pay a visit to the mayor's open hours." EVERY RESIDENT COULD DO THAT, EVERY WEEK. (OR WE ALL COULD AVAIL OURSELVES OF THE INTERNET.) He can tell you that the meetings are in the initial planning stages..." DIDN'T 'THE TOWN' ALREADY VOTE TO SPEND X DOLLARS? FOR *WHAT*, EXACTLY? "... that town council and PR commission members are invited to attend and hear what is being discussed." AND *NOT* THE PUBLIC?
CC Minton July 26, 2011 at 06:47 PM
I watched the Council meeting and agree with the idea of making an investment in market research and then moving forward with a plan. Not sure if it was decided to do this or just move forward.
Raymond Helfrich July 26, 2011 at 07:04 PM
I watched the Council meeting and agree with the idea of making an investment in market *research*...
Mikey July 26, 2011 at 09:22 PM
You folks are way too upset over $30K. Chill out.
Raymond Helfrich July 28, 2011 at 03:56 PM
Have any meetings concerning the 'marketing' 'plan' taken place, and have the PRC and council members been included in those meetings?
Sue Freivald July 28, 2011 at 10:05 PM
The plan presented by the resolutions did not include market research. There were some confusing comments made--the PI made references to focus groups done over the past year without elaborating, but Catania made it clear that market research was NOT part of their duties for only $15K. The mayor said that "as far as market research goes," no one knows more about West Orange than the "six people sitting here"--meaning the Council and mayor himself, apparently implying that they are all the research needed. According to the resolutions, the "plan" does not include any component of marketing research. And yes, it is moving forward.
Raymond Helfrich July 30, 2011 at 10:52 PM
If "It should also be noted that Ms. Silvestri is the wife of [BTW, not simply 'married to,' mind you; notice the possessive construction that was employed!] councilman Krakoviak," it should, more importantly, also be noted that--even now that it's a month later!--nobody really has addressed the comments that Ms. Silvestri (the long-time town resident and long-time marketing professional) made to the town council!

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