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Behind every great person in Philadelphia…is a bunch of other great people

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Editor’s note: This is the fifth post in a series of guest posts from the PRSA Philadelphia publicity committee leading up to the PRSA 2013 International Conference, October 26 – 29. Follow the Conference conversation by searching the hashtag #PRSAICON and following our PRSA National Events Twitter handle, @PRSAevents.

It might be something unique to Philadelphia, since, you know, the U.S.A. started here when a group of guys got together to collaborate on the nation’s future. But I’ve had the privilege of working with some other amazing groups of people over the last 20 years that display the truest sense of cooperation. They are people who are mission-driven; they do things outside of their jobs and regular work hours, and ultimately, they care about moving Philadelphia forward, but don’t care about who gets the credit for it.

Take, for instance, Philly Startup Leaders. This started in 2008 as a group of five entrepreneurs building businesses in the city who needed others to lean on and learn from. So they started getting together on a regular basis to share beers, (and stories and best practices too) and in the process, found friends and common ground. Today, the startup community is 1,500+ strong, and has attracted people like me to care about their mission and help tell their stories. They collaborate regularly on events and resource sharing as they start, build and grow their businesses. Some of them compete in the same tech space, but they still respect each other and the value of team work – evident in co-working and organizing dozens of civic-minded hack-a-thons that further their relationships while supporting education, sustainability, government and more.

Then there’s the collaboration around building and telling a new narrative for Philadelphia, which started with a global messaging project that the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) organized two years ago after research showed that, even after all of these years, the city’s brand was not well known around the world. The story was created through the input and recommendations of hundreds of focus group participants and stakeholders around the globe, and created with an open source goal of being “created by all and owned by none.” This story of Philadelphia as a modern renaissance city, along with the PHL mark worn every day by the Mayor of Philadelphia, has organically taken flight. It has been covered by the New York Times and was recently described as “ubiquitous” as more than 50 diverse organizations (known as PHL Partners) are now tweeting with a PHL-inspired handle, or incorporating the language or PHL mark into their efforts to promote the city – all in a movement to make sure that the city has a louder voice and more consistent story to tell around the globe.

Another recent example is the formation of PHL Made, a newborn project that takes its inspiration from an effort in San Francisco. As the City of Firsts, it’s no surprise that quality things are still being designed and made in Philadelphia, from shirts, chairs, food, technology, art and anything in between; the challenge is no one knows it. For nearly a year, a group of 15 volunteers gathered regularly after hours and on weekends to kick-start this effort that aims to tell the story of Philadelphia’s “makers” to a wider audience, sparking new business for growing companies, inspiring more makers, and weaving the makers’ network together. Ultimately, the group wants to generate jobs for people in all neighborhoods and economic impact for the City.

It was Benjamin Franklin who said, “If we do not hang together, we will all hang separately.” And the same thing holds true today about the importance of real, mutually beneficial, collaborations. So who are you partnering with today and who will you partner with in the future?

Danielle Cohn is the Vice-President of Marketing Communications at the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) and an avid tweeter of all things Philadelphia (@daniellecohn)


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Danielle Cohn

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