Interview with Sylvie Gallier Howard, Chief of Staff with the City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce

We caught up with Sylvie Gallier Howard, Chief of Staff with the City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce, to discover what the Amazon RFP process has taught those participating about their “pitch readiness” - specifically at how economic development and tourism promotion teams can work together more effectively to the benefit of all objectives.

CNP: Why do you think it’s important that those involved in tourism promotion, economic development,  investment promotion and talent attraction work more collaboratively?

SGH: When businesses or potential employees consider a location, they look not only at economic factors, but also the liveability of a place. Economic Development organization tend to focus more on the economic benefits of moving to a location, while tourism organizations are really good at promoting all the assets of a location. Both are needed and if the two can work together it leverages resources and strengths.

CNP: What would you say is the key to good story-telling to promote the assets and attractions of  your city, region or nation?

SGH: Developing a narrative that encompasses the last chapter, the current chapter and the chapter you intend to move into, to give people a sense of the trajectory and what potential is there. I would say right now our brand is outdated and under construction. The Amazon HQ2 bid provided a tailored snapshot, but now we are working on a longer-term brand. Stay tuned because the plan is to get Philadelphia on the map in a way that it hasn’t been for a long time.

CNP: Looking back over the past 12-18 months, could you sum up one key achievement of your  organisation of which you are most proud?

SGH: Philadelphia is most proud of two things- 1. Our bid for Amazon HQ2 was a hugely collaborative process and a great test pilot for the type of promotion and branding that we should be doing all the time. 2. We were selected as one of four cities to participate in the Brookings Global Identity Cohort and are currently working on building a narrative and identity that will resonate world-wide and that will elevate our brand (which trails our actual performance).

CNP: Why would you say that it’s important to keep up with how other cities, regions and nations  are approaching the branding and marketing strategy for their place?

SGH: Cities and locales need to shape their destiny and how they are perceived. It is not enough to wait for identity to come organically. Leaders and stakeholders in a community need to jointly agree on a narrative for a destination and build their marketing, communications and strategic decisions around that.

The Place Brand Portfolio is City Nation Place's searchable portfolio of Awards case studies from the past five years.