San Diego’s Little Italy is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation for the public’s benefit, the Little Italy Association (LIA) advocates on behalf of its members’ best interests in the areas of public safety, beautification, promotion and economic development, while preserving the unique cultural resources that exist in the Little Italy neighborhood of Downtown San Diego. LIA stands as the only district management corporation of its kind for any Little Italy neighborhood in the United States and is run by a Board of Directors encompassing 32 people who represent property owners, residents, businesses and community at large.
San Diego’s Little Italy is a 21st century model neighborhood for how other City center neighborhoods and Downtowns should operate. In the last fifteen years, Little Italy San Diego has had over 4,000 new apartments and condos built in the neighborhood and increased sales tax revenues by 43%, and in the last five years the number of businesses in the neighborhood has nearly doubled.
When the Little Italy Association connected with Olive, we were tasked with the challenge to maintain and increase visibility of this premier neighborhood with regional and national media relations and an engaged social media campaign.
At Olive, we always start the same way: we discuss the ultimate vision when the client is at its fullest potential. Once we have a clear view of what that looks like, we can begin to build a campaign. Next, we identify the values. With the vision of expression and core values, we can begin to develop the storyline. We believe that effective campaigns are confident and collected. This means you always have a strategy and plan in place to ensure you are sharing information in a way that serves to reinforce the values and truly illuminate the greatness that exists. At Olive, it’s really about shining the spotlight on our clients.
In a community like Little Italy, there is a lot going on, so we begin to build the framework around the key events first. Then, we move onto the lifestyle piece, and finally, the exciting part – thought leadership and national travel and tourism.
The social media campaign should also reflect the same approach, only the communication is conversational and engaging. We focused on growing the social media followings through unique curated content, high-quality imagery, content from fans, giveaways, editorial features, targeted advertising campaigns, and strategic marketing videos that we create utilizing an outside videography company. In addition, we build successful hashtag campaigns that encouraged fans and social influencers to contribute posts about the brand, expanding our organic social reach (i.e. – #LittleItalySD, #DogsofLittleItaly, #FESTASD, #BuonNataleSD).
Since the launch of this campaign, we have aggressively grown media exposure to position and validate San Diego’s Little Italy as the number one Little Italy neighborhood in the nation through credible regional, national, and international media. This strong visibility has directly impacted fundraising efforts and increased ticket sales and attendance at community events—FESTA!, Trick-or-Treat on India Street, Little Italy Tree Lighting and Christmas Village, Ferragosto, Taste of Little Italy and more. With the combination of social media and media relations, San Diego’s Little Italy is now viewed as the top neighborhood in San Diego and the top eatery hub in all of San Diego County.
Little Italy is featured in an average of 50-60 media hits per month. The community has been featured in many premium media outlets including Forbes, Culture Trip, Cooking Light, NBC News, National Geographic, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, examiner.com and more. In addition, we have consistently secured top-tier regional media coverage in outlets such as San Diego Union Tribune, WHERE LA, Southern California Life Magazine, Welcome to SoCal Magazine, Ranch & Coast Magazine, San Diego Magazine, Pacific Magazine, Modern Luxury San Diego, San Diego Union Tribune’s Night & Day, San Diego City Beat and more. The neighborhood is also regularly featured on all San Diego news affilliates, including FOX, CBS, NBC, ABC, KUSI and CW.
In addition to increased visibility in media, Little Italy’s social media presence has grown by over 600% since the launch of our campaign in July 2013. We have grown the Facebook following from 8,000 fans to over 55,000 fans. Now, Instagram has over 26,500 followers and Twitter has over 6,000 followers.