City of Albany Historic Preservation Strategic Public Relations Planning & Case Studies Fall 2016

During fall term 2016, five teams of undergraduate public relations students worked with the City of Albany's Planning Department's Historic Preservation Program.

Project Scope: The development of a strategic communication plan to improve service delivery for the City’s Historic Program. The students’ plans focus on communication and engagement with stakeholders for specific program activities, with teams of students focusing on a ways to build public awareness, foster positive public relations, strengthen and leverage partnerships, and streamline operations or similar purposes.

The city of Albany is the eleventh largest city in the state of Oregon with an estimated 52,000 citizens residing in both the Linn and Benton counties. It was established in 1848 for its natural location along the Calapooia River as a riverboat port. Outside of its scenic nature, Albany is famous for its heritage and historic aspects. It is accredited by historians for the architecture in its historic districts. There are more than 700 landmark properties in four historic districts: Monteith, Hackleman, Downtown Commercial and the Municipal Airport district.

Internal stakeholders: Landmarks Commission; City Code Enforcement; City Managers Office (Public Relations and Economic Development)

External stakeholders: Current and future property owners, contractors, developers, realtors, landlords, tenants, business owners; Albany Visitors Association and other heritage partners; State Historic Preservation Office

Plan Highlight: Team 1

Objective: To have an effect on the awareness of Albany’s Historic Preservation Program; specifically, to educate homeowners of the historic districts to 30 percent within two years.

Strategy: To accomplish this objective, we recommend a community relations strategy focused on community building and awareness, specifically to foster relationships with homeowners. This strategy will allow us to increase knowledge of the Historic Preservation Program in an inviting environment.

Tactic: Hold “meet your neighbors” social for Albany homeowners twice annually once during the holiday season and once during the month of May (Historic Preservation Month).

Plan Highlight: Team 2

Objective: To have an effect on the awareness of Albany realtors regarding historic home benefits; specifically to generate participation regarding Albany’s historic preservation events to 35 percent of Albany realtors within a year.

Strategy: To accomplish the objective, we recommend an event-­based strategy focused on building a network of realtors that have knowledge of historic preservation. This strategy will allow us to encourage realtors to gain knowledge on historic properties in order to have a specialty in selling historic homes.

Tactic 1: Host private house tours for realtors, providing them with an opportunity to ask questions about the benefits of historic preservation and network with peers.

Tactic 2: Offer 10-­minute on-­site seminars to local realtor groups on recent regulations and code changes.

Plan Highlight: Team 3

Objective: To have an effect on action; specifically to increase utilization of program resources among 70 historic property owners by June 2017.

Strategy: To accomplish the objective, we recommend an online content strategy focused on accessibility of program resources for historic property owners. This strategy will allow us to increase the use of program resources and communication with historic property owners.

Tactic: Redesign and update the Historic Preservation program website content. Reorganize and curate existing materials to make the site more user friendly.

"It was a pleasure to work with your journalism students on developing communication strategies to benefit the City of Albany’s historic preservation program . I was impressed by the seriousness of their work, the effort they made to research and understand the issues at hand, and the varied and detailed suggestions offered to us. I plan to incorporate many of these ideas into future projects." - Bob Richardson, Planning Manager, City of Albany

Plan Highlight: Team 4

Objective: To have an effect on action, specifically to create consistency and community among Albany’s Heritage All-Star partner organizations through hosting three specific events by the end of 2018.

Strategy: To accomplish this objective, we recommend a special event strategy focused on a kick-off event (“through history” theme) in support of Albany’s historic month that will connect community members to Heritage All-Star Community partner organizations. This strategy will allow us to encourage involvement of the public and strengthen partnerships between the All-Star partners by coming together in support of a common key interest.

Tactic: Plan a kick-off event, which will include a 5K run/walk through the Monteith District. The event will be called “Race Through History.”

Tactic 2: Implement a historical scavenger hunt at the end of the 5K run/walk in the Downtown District. The event will be called “Hunt Through History.”

Plan Highlight: Team 5

Objective: To have an effect on action; specifically aim for 60 homeowners to participate in community events planned by the Historic Preservation Program throughout the year.

To accomplish the objective, we recommend an organizational strategy focused on creating a Neighborhood Association for each historic district. This strategy will allow us to increase community involvement in historic preservation as well as allow the community to take some burden off of the Historic Preservation Program to plan events and educate the public.

Tactic: Reach out to owners of historic properties in the two residential historic districts to be a part of their district’s Neighborhood Association. Have the associations meet a minimum of four times a year to expand their knowledge of historic preservation, discuss newsletters and updates from the Historic Preservation Program and plan community events.

The students would like to thank the City of Albany Historic Preservation program team, Chris Bell from the University of Oregon's Historic Preservation faculty and Megan Banks from Sustainable Cities Initiative for the support this term.

If you'd like to review any of the student's final plans, please contact Kelli Matthews, Sr. Instructor at

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