Reflections on the Inaugural Meeting of the Academy of Marketing Place Marketing & Branding Special Interest Group


by Dr. Heather Skinner

Hosted by Staffordshire University, the Inaugural Meeting of the Academy of Marketing Place Marketing & Branding Special Interest Group (SIG) was held on Monday 4th December 2017. The meeting took the form of a workshop on “Researching, Writing, and Publishing in Place Marketing & Branding”, and focused on three key issues of interest:

  • Interdisciplinarity in place marketing and branding research;
  • Understanding what editors and reviewers want from place marketing and branding papers;
  • Setting out the research agenda for the SIG.

SIG members were welcomed to the University by SIG Co-Chairs, Dr Vish Maheshwari, Head of Department – Business Management and Marketing, and Dr Heather Skinner, Chair of the Institute of Place Management’s Visiting Places SIG, and Chair of the Corfu Symposium on Managing & Marketing Places.

Professor Martin Jones, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Staffordshire University, opened the proceedings with a geographer’s insight, highlighting to our members that there are various ways of reading and writing space and place, from isolated, absolute, hermetically sealed, bounded perspectives to the more relative and relational, considering the relationships between places and the networks within which they operate.

His final thought to our members was, when researching and writing about space and place, to consider all four key aspects:

  • Territory
  • Scale
  • Place
  • Networks

Attendees were then treated to a fascinating presentation by Professor Jon Fairburn, Professor of Sustainable Development at Staffordshire University, who focused on Stoke-on-Trent’s efforts towards regeneration as a medium sized post-industrial city in a place marketing context, considering how better to make use of the green and safe spaces around the city in efforts to enhance residents’ well-being while also addressing some of the transport issues faced by those travelling around the city.

Dr Heather Skinner then led a session that set out to consider the issues of interdisciplinarity surrounding researching and writing in place marketing and branding. She outlined some of the key concepts, and proposed some working definitions of the key concepts of Place Marketing, Place Branding, Place Brand Identity, and Place Brand Image that will guide the work of the SIG and its members in an attempt towards reconciliation of the problems that remain in the extant literature when these constructs are used in various different ways and based on different definitional approaches.

  • Place marketing is concerned with a place’s overall market-getting strategies.
  • Place branding is the marketing-related practice by which a positive place identity is created and communicated to various target segments that differentiates one place competitively from other places, and which can alter perceptions about a place.
    • Place brand identity is formed from the inside-out and is communicated in ways that tend to rely heavily on the visual rather than other senses.
    • Place brand image is an outside-in construct that applies to the target markets’ perceptions of the place.

You can read the notes she presented here.

Professor Dominic Medway and Professor Gary Warnaby, both working with the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, then focused on what journal editors and reviewers look for in place marketing and branding papers.

Dominic is Academic Editor of the Journal of Place Management and Development, and gave some great insights into the role of the editor, the need for papers that are submitted to the journal to focus clearly and explicitly on their relevance and their contribution to the field, and also the key reasons for rejecting papers. Gary then reminded our attendees that most papers will have some sort of revisions proposed at the review stage, and that overall, when reviewing papers, he looks for the following:

  • Context
  • Content
  • Contribution
  • Conceptual development
  • Clarity
  • Coherence
  • Continuity
  • Cross-checking

Academy of Marketing Place Marketing & Branding SIG

The subject areas of Place Marketing and Place Branding are growing in interest to academics, business people and policy makers. The Place Marketing & Branding SIG provides a platform for interaction between academics and practitioners actively involved with these matters, furthering and disseminating knowledge.  The SIG also facilitates focused engagement in debates on related issues within other fields including Place Management, Public Diplomacy, Brand Management, Communications, Behavioural Psychology, Geography and Health. The objectives of the SIG are:

  • to provide interaction between academics and practitioners;
  • to facilitate networking between like-minded researchers and interested doctoral students working within area of place marketing and branding
  • to stimulate constructive debate on related issues;
  • to develop and disseminate knowledge supporting place marketing area
  • to nurture research collaboration between colleagues both nationally and internationally

At the meeting members were also keen for the SIG to inform members about funding opportunities, and it was suggested that we consider submitting a funding bid for a research project to the Academy of Marketing.

SIG members are also keen to be involved with the AM workshop sessions that will be held at the 2018 conference taking place 2-5 July 2018 at the University of Stirling.

More information about the SIG can be found on the website and on the SIG Facebook page.