Minneapolis Civic Fest

Weber Shandwick creates communications plan to drive attendance to Minneapolis CivicFest

Why Pro Bono?

To showcase the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area as it served as host for the 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC).


The last national political convention hosted in Minnesota was more than 100 years ago. The local host committee for the 2008 Convention made it a priority to create a civic experience accessible to local and regional residents.  They created CivicFest, a non-partisan, week-long public event, celebrating U.S. political history, democracy and Minnesota statehood.

CivicFest took place at the Minneapolis Convention Center and featured hundreds of historic memorabilia and artifacts. Approximately 70 days before CivicFest opened, Weber Shandwick was enlisted by the 2008 Host Committee to raise awareness of and drive attendance to the event.

The communications plan was strategically divided into three phases: pre-event, opening day and throughout the event. The pre-event phase included facilitating a key message session, media relations and producing a public service announcement.

The second phase focused on driving attention around opening day. Tactics included a media drop distributing giant cookies with the CivicFest logo, a media advisory and a VIP news conference/ribbon cutting to inspire the community to commit to civic engagement and attend CivicFest.

The third phase leveraged strategies to sustain interest and media attention throughout the event, including distributing daily media advisories, staffing an on-site media room and executing guerilla marketing tactics such as canvassing Nicollet Mall during the work week and handing out thousands of leaflets.


Weber Shandwick’s extensive media relations and communications plan for CivicFest garnered:

  • 265 media hits totaling in excess of 30 million media impressions; high-profile placements included  FOX National News, “Nickelodeon,” “The Tonight Show “and The New York Times online
  • Prominent local and regional feature-rich coverage on TV, radio and in newspapers
  • More than 3,000 PSA placements on Comcast stations in Minnesota and on KSTP-TV and KMSP-TV
  • Radio promotions and ticket give-aways, totaling at least 260 tickets, with 24 radio stations from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa
    More than 100 media representatives from local, regional, national and international media outlets visited the media room, including CNN, NBC News, New York Daily News, Associated Press, HBO and BBC

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