By Sarina Mohan, Executive Director, Global New Orleans
This month, the New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council rebranded with the new name Global New Orleans. This change was born of the need to reenergize our brand and uplevel the ways in which we connect New Orleanians with our work on the international stage—particularly as we continue to face pandemic-related shifts.
While we have a small but loyal support network, we know that, in order to expand our reach, we need new audiences. Global New Orleans leveraged a longstanding relationship with a widely known local nonprofit, the Preservation Resource Center (PRC), on their biggest event of the year, allowing us to get our brand and mission in front of thousands of new people. The PRC promotes the preservation, restoration, and revitalization of New Orleans’ historic architecture, neighborhoods, and cultural identity. They host an annual Holiday Home Tour with more than 3,000 attendees, plus tens of thousands who read their magazine and follow them on social media. The PRC is a long-time friend of our organization with many PRC staff meeting with International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) groups as professional resources.
This year’s tour took place outdoors, featuring six gardens each with a custom installation by a local artist. Global New Orleans sponsored artist Nadia Ramadan, a local float builder, costume designer, furniture maker, and interior designer to create a remarkable 20-foot Vietnamese dragon surrounded by icons of the cultural contributions of various ethnic and cultural groups to New Orleans’ unique culture. Our board and staff volunteered, hosting a table beside the dragon, sharing information about the IVLP and distributing international holiday cookies—French palmiers, African chin chin, Argentine alfajores, and Vietnamese mooncakes—each made by a local chef and packaged with info tags featuring international facts about New Orleans and a QR code link to our website.
As a result of this marketing blitz, we increased our web traffic by 60% on the first day alone and made strong connections with hundreds of new people interested in becoming professional resources for our organization, hosting home hospitality dinners, and connecting their local businesses (including new hotel partners) with our IVLP groups. We heard over and over again “How have I never heard of Global New Orleans before? I would love to get involved.”
Additionally, the dragon will be installed at our headquarters, allowing us to teach all of our international visitors about New Orleans’ culture, demographics, food, music, international trade and, of course, Mardi Gras and float building. You can find out more about “Global New Orleans” by Nadia Ramadan at globalneworleans.org/supporting-local-art.
We able to leverage this longstanding relationship to substantially increase our visibility and educate our community about our work. It took a lot of behind-the-scenes preparation, but in the end the hard work paid off. Our goal was always to drive traffic, but the success of this event surpassed our expectations substantially. Tabling is often fruitless—but art and food are sure ways to pique peoples’ interest.
Below are some tips to help other CBMs brainstorm similar opportunities in your communities:
- Get creative about how and where you can appeal to new audiences in your community.
- Research your network of professional resources and organizations to see who has events with partnership opportunities.
- In lieu of paid partnerships or sponsorships, ask if there are opportunities for promotional partnerships where you share the event with your networks in exchange for your organization being recognized in some way.
- Involve your board and staff in the event (as volunteers, speakers, booth hosts, etc.)—putting faces to the name of your organization will increase engagement and give you a chance to explain your work.
- And, think outside the box to show people what you do rather than tell them. Excite people about international cultures whenever and however possible!