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VOL. 125 | NO. 225 | Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pinnacle Decision, Pep Rally Required Collaborative Effort

By Andy Meek

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Howell Marketing CEO Amy Howell has a lot to say in a blog she posted this week about her firm’s deep involvement in media strategy for Pinnacle Airlines Corp.’s decision on a new headquarters location.

It’s only been a month, but the effects of Pinnacle’s decision to move its headquarters from an area near Memphis International Airport to Downtown’s One Commerce Square will linger for a long time.

Getting to that point involved a lot of work, Howell writes.

For starters, the team was under confidentially agreements as they began putting the pieces together. Howell writes she was asked most day about Pinnacle’s decision and. In hindsight, she said, the Memphis media was diligent yet respectful.

The team that helped put together a veritable pep rally for Pinnacle at the end of the same week the Downtown announcement was made included Pinnacle officials Eric Epperson and Joe Williams, Resource Entertainment Group founding partner Paul Chandler, and the Center City Commission’s Leslie Gower and Paul Morris.

Morris is CCC president and Gower is vice president of marketing and communications.

“It takes a certain type of person that can pull off a massive event in less than 48 hours complete with the (Beale Street) Flippers, Ruby Wilson and the band, food, a red carpet, goodie bags for Pinnacle’s employees, a stage and sound system and banners hung the size of Texas!” Howell writes. “Leslie Gower and Paul Morris of the Center City Commission are also rock stars in my book.

“In addition to the Herculean work the CCC did leading up to the event, the day of the event they pulled together the Downtown business community to welcome Pinnacle and helped with the logistics like blocking off part of Monroe so the buses could get through. It’s not easy to bus 500 Pinnacle employees to a single location at a certain time – with a police escort!”

Howell said Destination King also contributed to the effort. She said Greater Memphis Chamber president and CEO John Moore called and offered to help with the media, and Howell also had words of thanks for Amy Daniels, the chamber’s director of communications.

Coordinating the agenda for the pep rally also was a big task. It was headlined by a crowd of politicians and VIPs.

“Each person on the stage had 3 minutes to speak, and I only had to flash the flashlight at one speaker for talking too long (but you know there’s always one),” Howell writes. “It’s like herding cats trying to get that many politicians, CEO types and the Governor to one place for one agenda.

“The Governor (Bredesen at the time) had his own State Trooper as his escort and driver who kept calling my cell phone to check in, which I certainly appreciated. The challenge I knew I had was to get everybody on the stage, stay on time and manage the media. I was also worried the fire marshal would count heads as we probably exceeded the maximum capacity for the lobby of the building, but thankfully, we were all good there.”

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