As we close the curtain on 2012, St. Louis Public Radio is examining the ideas and people that had a good year. Among those are the marketing efforts generated to proclaim to the world that the city of St. Louis officially "does not suck."
The public rally to celebrate the joys of the city has been overwhelming, since marketing strategist Aaron Perlut authored his tongue-in-cheek article for Forbes.com last year. The ground swell has manifested itself into “Rally St Louis,” an online marketing effort created by Perlut and partner Brian Cross to allow citizens to create new ideas to improve the city.
Erin Williams talked with Perlut as part of St Louis Public Radio’s series “A Good Year.”
Here's a summary of their conversation:
You received an amazing, overwhelming response to your article – but then people started asking ‘So what are you gonna do about it?’
I didn’t anticipate that. I didn’t write [the article] based on some strategic notion that I had a plan for anything. I don’t think that far in advance! Once that question was posed to me -and my partner Brian Cross at Elasticity, also had a very similar question posed to him several times – we sat down and Brian kind of came up with this idea about simply ‘Why don’t we make this a grassroots thing?’ Instead of the top-down mechanism that’s always been used not just in St. Louis, but anywhere else that’s tries to define themselves as a region, why not make it bottom up and engage citizens? We tweaked it a little bit over the next month, put it together in this package, and started socializing the idea that has become Rally St. Louis today.
What is the goal behind Rally St. Louis?
We are trying to create a platform where anyone can go on and suggest a means of bettering this town. And we hope it’s with a focus on better positioning our region so that we are perceived in the way that we all understand our lifestyle to be here.
We’re talking about what’s made St. Louis great in the last year, and for me it has been the spirit of collaboration that has surrounded the political, economic development, tourism, not for profit community, business community that in my previous six years I did not see here. And maybe I was blind to it and maybe it was here - but I have seen the spirit of collaboration.
How do you plan to keep this momentum going next year?
That’s been the biggest challenge… because we need people to know it’s not just this first cycle of ideas. Most importantly it’s going to be up to the people that are participating. There is this kind of this collaborative spirit on moving this city forward right now, and I see it in absolutely every corner. There’s all these different kinds of ground swell groups…that have this spirit about making St. Louis a better place to live.
I think what we want to do is be a facilitator of all that, and have the platform be a facilitator of some of that energy and that spirit that has made the last year great in St. Louis, and I think it’s going to make many years to come great in St. Louis.
Follow Erin Williams on Twitter: @STLPR_Erin