Local agencies boost branding and awareness through targeted promotions

Few opportunities for promotional success are as ubiquitous as our local governments and civic agencies. But the many arms of a municipality can make succeeding with clients a formidable task. However, with a little research and a lot of creativity under your belt, you’ll have municipal clients in the bag.

Where are the opportunities?

Local governments often oversee multiple agencies, including law enforcement, community development and emergency response. Debbie Million, owner of iPROMOTEu distributor A Million Promotions Ltd. (UPIC: IPRO9320) in Orland Park, Illinois, worked with the Orland Fire Protection District to develop a new slogan, and she sourced promotional items that reinforced the department’s fire safety and education messages. The program received a 2015 PPAI Pyramid Award.

To make connections with municipal agencies and departments, Million recommends attending community events sponsored by these groups. “See who’s chairing the events. Dig further to get a meeting,” she says. Additionally, stopping by an office to introduce yourself and make a face-to-face connection can also lead to success. This move, Million says, is what led to her partnership with the fire district.

“I went in to introduce myself and they happened to be in a meeting to discuss products for fire prevention education,” says Million. “They invited me into the meeting , so I explained my expertise and showed them some samples I happened to have in my car.”

The providential encounter led to Million helping the Orland district craft relevant messages about fire safety and pairing them with items such as kitchen tools, plastic firefighter hats, flashing safety lights and children’s backpacks.

Who are the decision makers?

Look to the stakeholders within an organization or department that spearheads campaigns.

The Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau in Dublin, Ohio, serves as the city’s official sales and marketing organization, and is tasked with creating campaigns for citywide marketing and publicity efforts.

When the city launched a new logo and slogan to encourage tourism, the staff at the CVB turned “Irish Is An Attitude” into a brand awareness campaign that included logoed promotional products. Katie Rich, visitor experience specialist for the Dublin CVB, says the nonprofit organization typically sources products from local distributors.

What message do they want to send?

Million says her Orland client sends multiple messages to several community groups throughout the year, and those messages are best delivered through different types of targeted products. “For senior programs, they provide a lot of safety messages, such as kitchen safety,” says Million. Messages that encourage residents to never leave a stove unattended, for example, are delivered via useful items such as measuring spoon sets.

Fire safety education for children will include messages like “stop, drop and roll” and “sharpen your fire safety skills,” and elementary students receive items such as coloring books, flying disks and pencil sharpeners when Orland’s fire district representative delivers educational presentations, says Million.

What do they look for in promotional products?

Million says items should help deliver the message, which is the organization’s primary objective. “Smaller items that are different, that tie the message into the theme” are ideal, she says.

What are the caveats?

Budgets are a big deal for smaller agencies. Million says pricing unique, memorable items with a limited budget can be a challenge, but the challenge can be met with a tiered-price selection of items. “Provide more creative items on a tier; have one expensive item, and then move down [the price range],” she says. “But spend money on usable items.”

2015 Pyramid Award image web


Elect To Use These Products For Successful Programs

Pro Towels golf towel web

Government and agency leaders do better business on the green with a terry velour golf towel like this one. With a tri-fold grommet and hook, the mid-weight 100-percent cotton towel delivers a message in sharp vibrancy.

Pro Towels UPIC: PROTOWEL www.protowels.com



They’ll get progress on the record with memo books and calendars like these. Choose from a compact 64-sheet book that’s just under three by five inches, a year-in-view calendar with a tinned top and bottom, or a half-apron calendar with a date pad stapled to the apron back.

Tru Art Advertising Calendars UPIC: TRUART www.truart.com


Hirsch charger web

Emergency response teams will appreciate an emergency solar charger with a 3,000 mAh battery that’s RoHS compliant and UL, FCC and CE certified. The solar panel has a high-conversion efficiency of 5.0V/130mA. With two built-in USB ports, the charger is compatible with cell phones, tablets and other portable devices, and it can be charged by solar power or by connecting it to a computer. A micro USB charging cable and mesh carrying pouch are included.

Hirsch Gift, Inc. UPIC: HIRGIFT www.hirschgift.com


pitchfix twister web

Develop great relationships with a PitchFix® Twister divot tool. Its three pins rest within a small-diameter circle that’s perfectly matched to the size of a golf ball divot. The gunmetal-colored body and trims combine with colored, rubberized top parts to present a colorful, well-designed product. The Twister comes with the PitchFix® removable magnet ball marker for branding and communication purposes.

EMT UPIC: EMTEASY www.emteasy.com


Up Your Standard desk set web

Brighten the day of a department’s hardest workers with a neon set of desk accessories from the Up Your Standard line. Choose from orange, blue, green, yellow and pink.

Numo UPIC: NUMO0001 www.upyourstandard.com


Jaffa Award web

Honor professional achievement with a Shield Award personalized with britePix® imprinting, and deliver one-of-a-kind recognition to deserving recipients.

BIC Graphic UPIC: BIC www.bicgraphic.com


redline knife 1 webredline knife 2 web

Public works crews are prepared for just about anything with a Maxam lockback knife. This lightweight, knife can be opened with one hand, and measures four inches closed and 6 7/8 inches open.

Redline UPIC: REDLINE www.redlineimprint.com


Essef lapel pin high res web

Put a pin in a successful campaign with a 3/4-inch circular lapel pin trimmed in gold. The magnetic closure and backing ensure a secure attachment, and the four-color process produces an eye-catching epoxy dome print.

Essef Distributors UPIC: 7414140 www.lincolnline.com


Scully ID holder web

Agency representatives can feel secure when they take their message on the road with a leather airport ID holder. The rear open pocket stashes a boarding pass and an exterior ID window displays credentials clearly. The holder features two front zip pockets and an adjustable neck strap.

Scully Leather UPIC: S174962 www.scullyleather.com


Starline safety glasses web

Safety glasses in a modern design add a touch of stylishness to a uniform program. These glasses are ANSI-Z87.1 and CSA Z94.3 approved, with clear, crisp and distortion-free visibility while meeting the requirement standards that help provide protection from projectiles and impact in general use applications. Lenses can be mirrored for indoor-outdoor use, gray for outdoors, gradient for multipurpose use, or clear for indoor uses.The rimless design is treated front and back with a clear, scratch-resistant coating and an anti-fog coating. Fully adjustable temples ratchet and extend in length and a soft nose pad self-adjusts for a perfect fit. Add an optional foam kit (SG47FK) to transform the glasses to a dust-free goggle.

Starline USA UPIC: STAR0009 www.starline.com


A Florida community’s city hall teamed up with the local police and fire departments, and an elementary school for an Earth Day beach cleanup event. They selected a BIC Message Pen to display and deliver messages of awareness for the event, and gave the pens to participants.


BIC message pen blue web

BIC message pen purple web

Source: BIC Graphic


Help Clients Pair Products With Programs

Need some ideas to pass along to your municipal government clients? Start with these tips.

-Use items as internal promotions and recognition gifts for employees

-Invest in unique, portable items as handouts during ceremonies, celbrations, fundraisers and community fairs

-Craft custom favors for events such as retirement ceremonies, awards banquets and annual meetings

Source: Crestline

Aiming High

Municipal promotions that prove successful can also garner attention by recognition groups. The International Economic Development Council recognizes the world’s best economic development programs and marketing materials with its Excellence In Economic Development Awards.

When gun and ammunition industry companies sought opportunities for new business locations, the Lubbock Economic Development Authority sent more than 130 industry leaders custom steel plates in the shape of Texas, with bullet holes marking the city’s location and a bullet-shaped USB drive. The piece was delivered in a custom-designed camouflage box along with an invitation to receive a free comparative analysis of Lubbock and two additional cities of the recipient’s choosing. The campaign won a 2014 EIED Award in the direct mail category.

Sidebar Image web

Sources: LEDA

Local Governments: A Snapshot

As of 2012, the U.S. was home to more than 89,000 local government units, a drop from the previous census conducted in 2007.

3,031 counties

12,884 independent school districts*

16,364 townships

19,522 municipalities

37,203 special districts**

Illinois boasts the largest number of local governments—6,968

Hawaii has the fewest local governments—21

*School districts are created to provide elementary, secondary and/or higher education services and have sufficient administrative and fiscal autonomy to qualify as independent governments. They exclude school systems that are “dependent” on a county, municipal, township or state government.

**Special districts are organized local entities other than county, municipal, township or school district governments that are authorized by state law to provide only one or a limited number of designated functions. Fire districts, water districts, library districts and transit authorities are examples.

On The Payroll

The vast majority of local government employees serve in the education sector—six million people in March 2013, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report. The remaining categories combined make up barely half that number. Payroll for education sector employees was reported to be $47.2 billion.

Rounding out the Top 10 employment sectors and their total payrolls are:

Police 773,505 $4.4 billion

Hospitals 493,663 $2.5 billion

Fire Protection 320,319 $1.98 billion

Highways 260,887 $1.1 billion

Corrections 248,061 $1.1 billion

Public Welfare 245,717 $1 billion

Other/unallocable 227,058 $1 billion

Health 214,536 $938 million

Judicial and Legal 217,781 $1 billion