Originally published in Castine Patriot, February 20, 2014
Marketing consultant puts out the message on Castine
“A present-day community committed to being lost in time”
by Anne Berleant
Marketing consultant Barbara Whitten arrived one day early, on February 13, to meet with the Community and Economic Development Committee. The oncoming snowstorm changed the time of the meeting, but its agenda remained the same: to review the results of surveys completed by 10 residents who were suggested by the committee, and to hear Whitten’s presentation on messaging and branding Castine.
What makes Castine a “shining star”? Whitten offered the message: “Jutting into Penobscot Bay, Castine, Maine is surrounded by water on three sides exuding a connection to its historical maritime past as one of the oldest communities in North America; Castine is a present day community committed to being lost in time.”
In all, Whitten, a former director of the Greater Portland Convention and Visitors Bureau, presented six different “messaging” statements that rely on Castine’s history, beauty and recreational opportunities. For example: “World class sailing, high adventure kayaking, links with a view and tennis for everyone, Castine, Maine offers a modern day family experience in the midst of one of the oldest communities in America.”
Whitten also presented several ways for the Castine “brand” to appear, based on the tag line previously adopted by the CED: “Under the Elms and By the Sea.”
Whitten used the results of a four-page telephone survey of “community stakeholders,” to help learn about the community and how to best market it to tourists and potential year-round residents.
The 10 hand-picked residents were CED chairman Rick Armstrong, Susan Adams, Maine Maritime Academy President Bill Brennan, Wilson Museum Director Patty Hutchins, Debbie Neve, Ann Miller, CED member Tony Politano, Doris Russell, Bob Scott and Selectman Peter Vogell.
According to survey results, the top three reasons to live in Castine? 1) sense of community; 2) school; and 3) historic preservation.
The top three attributes that make Castine a “shining star”? Beauty, harbor and history.
The “one thing” Castine needs to change to become more economically viable? More year-round residents, relaxing housing regulations off neck and being more friendly to business.
All but one of the respondents said Castine needs more year-round residents. However, the group split on the question of “suitable resident housing.” Four said Castine had the right amount, three said there isn’t enough and three said there’s too much.
In addition, the respondents answered an “overwhelming yes” to whether Maine Maritime Academy helps attract visitors, residents and businesses and contributes to the economic climate of Castine.
The CED had signed a $1,500 contract with Whitten in January for her to develop a brand and messaging statements, to interview “community stakeholders,” present her findings to the committee and recommend how to implement the branding.
This is the second survey conducted by the CED in as many years. In 2012, former economic development consultant Susan Walsh sent separate surveys tailored to year-round residents, MMA students and MMA staff to collect data on economic development and community. The results are posted at castine.me.us, under Town Hall/Reports and Documents.
The committee approved an additional $750 for graphics and “other follow up,” according to an email from Armstrong after the meeting, along with $300 for Tim Koster to continue updating Castine’s Facebook page with photos and posts through the end of April. Whitten and Koster are paid from the $30,000 approved by voters last year for economic development consultants.