The situation. With plans to create a 92-acre mixed-use community with over one million square feet of Class A office space, 900 luxury residences, two hotels and 440,000 square feet of specialty retail in Cary, North Carolina, Columbia Development needed to generate excitement in the local community prior to zoning, while also setting the stage regionally and nationally for leasing efforts.

Wilbert deployed a smart PR strategy. Wilbert created a detailed media relations and social media plan, with tactics to reach target audiences during every stage of the entitlement and development process.As an early initiative, prior to the zoning hearing, Wilbert recommended that Columbia invite the local community to vote on several possible names for the project. Wilbert generated excitement both in the local press – with stories in The News & Observer, Triangle Business Journal and Cary Citizen – as well as on social media. The two-week social campaign resulted in 285 new followers, 115,561 impressions and 2,265 engagements across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The community ultimately chose Fenton, a nod to Samuel Fenton Cary, for whom the town was named.

Here’s how it drove business results. The naming process, as part of a broader communications strategy, educated the community about Columbia’s plans and empowered the out-of-town developer to engage with local stakeholders. Columbia received unanimous approval from the Cary Town Council in January 2018 to rezone 92 acres of undeveloped land for Fenton. This rezoning vote generated positive coverage in The News & Observer, Triangle Business Journal and Cary Citizen, as well as the local NBC and ABC affiliates.In addition to local print and television coverage, Fenton’s progress has been featured in several industry trade publications, including Southeast Real Estate Business, REBusiness Online, Shopping Center Business, Bisnow and NREI Online — important for leasing efforts. As Columbia moves full-speed ahead with developing Fenton, Wilbert continues to generate a steady drumbeat of coverage in local and national media and to use Fenton’s social channels to tell the project’s story to key audiences.

The Wilbert Group

1718 Peachtree Street, Suite 1048

Atlanta, GA 30309

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