Conference publications

Ancestral and diasporic tourism: an untapped potential

06.12.2018

The report is available in the author's edition.

Abstract:
Ancestral tourism is a rapidly-growing sector of the tourism industry with the current wave of interest in genealogy. This is a case study report examining the untapped potential for ancestral and diasporic tourism in digital place brand management. A diaspora was selected, the German diaspora of 1863 – 1900, and a major migration route was identified (Baden-Wurttemberg, to Central Poland, to Western Ukraine, to South Russia). Tourism websites for those regions were identified through Google search and search engine optimization. Online content of the tourism websites was examined for appeal and target marketing to the German diasporic market, representing some 70 million people worldwide with key markets in the United States, Canada and South America. The majority of tourism websites along this migratory route are not tapping this particular heritage market (nor any other diasporic market with the exception of the Jewish diasporic market and, even then, minimally), nor are they addressing this market on their tourism websites in their digital footprint. These market needs are largely being met by private individuals and by small, privately-owned, custom tour and genealogical services-oriented sites. Further research could confirm this trend along other migratory routes, or with other diasporic markets, likely unveiling a market potential. Further research could also test for message effectiveness, and also the effects of technology on visits/repeat visits by descendants to their ancestral sites.

This is a case study report examining the untapped potential for ancestral and diasporic tourism development through digital place brand management. It identifies a particular diasporic market, traces a major, historical migratory route, and then examines website content of tourism organizations marketing to key points along this route to determine the level of awareness of this target market by tourism managers and their efforts at addressing them.

Digital Place Brand Management

Place brand management is more than a slogan or logo: it is a mental construction, a set of perceptions in consumers’ imaginations [5]. It is “the totality of the thoughts, feelings, associations and expectations that come to mind when a prospect or consumer is exposed to an entity’s name, logo, products, services, events, or any design or symbol representing them” [16, p. 14]. It is one of the most powerful tools of brand communication with target audiences. Digital place branding and digital place brand management represent a development in the use of Internet and online branding for market distinction, market differentiation, and market development in response to competition and market viability [12]. Online branding can build awareness, attract and engage users, and create participation [7].

Scholars acknowledge that places cannot simply view their brands as unidimensional, appealing only to a single target public. For example, the city of Rome is successfully branded to Catholics as a place of religious pilgrimage, and it is also successfully branded to appeal to those interested in history, art and architecture. These two target markets do not necessarily overlap. Communication efforts directed at each would differ; and yet, both brands are authentic. Such a “one size fits all” approach with respect to place brand management, while common-place and perhaps easier, is limiting [18, p. 270]. Therefore, digital place brand managers, as a means toward market development, can expand their views of markets.

Cultural, Ancestral and Diasporic Tourism

Cultural tourism comprises a great degree of the literature on tourism. A sub-set of this field is ancestral tourism (sometimes referred to as heritage, roots, nostalgic, legacy, or genealogy tourism). Ancestral tourism can be defined as “any visit which might be partly or wholly motivated by a need to connect or reconnect with an individual's ancestral past” [15, p. 13]. Ancestral tourism offers a differentiated market, providing an opportunity for digital place brand managers to remain competitive, to create unique selling propositions, and to develop additional points of attraction for mobility capital.

Researchers have concluded that perceived brand image influences emotional attachment to a city and that “city tourism marketers should focus on improving city brand images to enhance tourists' emotional attachment to the city to promote repeat visits among visitors” [8, p.  60). Ancestral tourism provides such an opportunity to capitalize on consumer emotional attachment.

Ancestral tourism is reported as one of the fastest-growing segments of the heritage tourism market, riding upon a wave of interest by those interested in researching their cultural and ethnic roots [11]. It is filled with a globalized class of mobility-capital-rich consumers who have both the financial resources and the time required to engage in this kind of activity [6]. Genealogy is a significant part of Northern Ireland's tourism industry, [4] and research by Scotland’s tourism office in 2012 revealed that of the estimated 50 million people with Scottish heritage worldwide, at least 20% intended to visit [17]. Millions are exposed to the possibility of travel to regions they consider ancestral homes (and often more than one ancestral home, due to migration routes) looking for rediscovery and personal development

Diasporic tourism can be considered a specific form of ancestral tourism. ‘Diaspora’ implies a traumatic separation from one’s current homeland, implying a certain unwillingness to leave, such as because of displacement, famine, political forces, economic forces, dispossession, or as extreme as exile [1]. Diasporas have involved mass migrations of almost every ethnicity and people group, including the Chinese, Jews, Southeast Asians, Croatians, the Dutch, and Irish, to name a few. Migrations of diasporic communities have occurred over the entire course of human history, touching almost every region of the world, so its impacts are far-reaching. In diasporic tourism, participants long to touch an imagined, or mythical, past (to the way things were) that may not exist today [13]. It is a theoretical abstraction that people embrace and act upon, by visiting the places in which their ancestors lived and travelled

This case study examines the German diaspora of 1763 – 1900, and the potential of this specific market for digital place brand managers. It was chosen because of the researcher’s familiarity with the subject as a descendant of German extraction.

The German Diaspora

The German diaspora is one of the lesser known diasporas of the world. In the 19th century alone, some five to six million Germans emigrated from their homeland, most never to return [2, p. 316]. It began with the mass emigration of Germans beginning approximately 1763 after the Seven Years’ War with their lands devastated, to answer the call of Catherine the Great of Russia to journey eastwards to cultivate Russian lands. It wasn’t until 1895 that any semblance of immigration and net increase in Germany’s population was seen [2, p. 319]. While migration rates, patterns, and destinations varied during the long exodus, for the purposes of this study, one key migration route has been identified – the route from Baden-Württemberg in southwestern Germany, eastward to settlements in central Poland, and then farther eastward into areas of present-day Ukraine and deeper into Russia.

  • Baden-Württemberg. The Württemberg region lies near the French border. Its emigration was so heavy by 1865, for example, that its net population decreased by up to 1.2 per cent, or 65,000 persons, annually [2, p. 317].

By 1915, there were approximately 2.3 million ethnic Germans in Russia (3, p. 138).

Further political and economic turmoil in Russia drove many of them out starting in Tsarist Russia in 1870s until the First World War, with many fleeing primarily to the United States, Canada and South America. They and their descendants are now known as the Germans from Russia. Their descendants have been said to number over a million; however, this seems on the conservative side, considering there were 2.3 million Germans in Russia in 1915 [10, p. 270]. The current market of all ethnic Germans (not just Germans from Russia), and their descendants living outside of Germany, now represents some 70 million around the world with key markets in US (50 million.), South America (17 million) and Canada (3.5 million). 

Research Question and Study

With increased interested worldwide by people exploring their roots, and the large market of German diasporic tourists, are the regions named above (which represent points along only one popular migratory route) appealing online to this target market in their place branding to maximize market potential and mobilize capital from an audience already emotionally invested in the place brand? If so, how, what are their key messages? If not, are they appealing to other ancestral markets and what markets are they?

Method

This study was conducted through a content analysis of key tourism websites as selected via Google search and search engine optimization using the key words “custom tourism” and/or “genealogical tourism” in conjunction with each targeted region on the selected migration route (e.g.  “Baden- Württemberg,” “Ukraine,” “Western Ukraine”;” Poland”; “Russia”; “Black Sea”; “Volga”; Odessa; “Volhynia”; “Crimea”; “Bessarabia”, etc.). 

With the results of each search set, a variety of web sites were examined from “official” (sponsored by entities such as states, municipalities, regions, convention bureaus, tourist bureaus, etc.), to major tour operators, to minor tour operators or individuals, or sites that appeared high up in the order of search engine optimization (which would mimic the “hits” and search patterns that a descendant and potential tourist would encounter in his/her own Internet search and would likely influence his/her search).

Sites were examined for any content that would appeal to the ancestral or genealogical market, particularly the German diaspora. Such content could be references to the German diaspora, acknowledgement of this diasporic group, custom heritage tours, the mention of other heritage tour operators, the provision of sources and resources that would support diaspora tourists (such as archival sources), or any other information that would be of specific value or interest to an ancestral, genealogical researcher. 

Results

A total of 66 websites were analysed: Baden-Württemberg area, 14; central/eastern Poland, 12; Volhynia/Western Ukraine/South Russia, 40. 

Results varied by region, but, generally, most official, large, and major tourism sites, both domestic and those offered through third parties such as Trip Advisor, or Tripoto, offered the typical tourism fare of museums, castles, theatres, shopping, nightlife, nature, city tours, major events, etc., but did not appeal to any diasporic market (with the exception of the Jewish diasporic market and that, only minimally). There were only a few exceptions.

Baden-Württemberg/Southwestern Germany Fourteen websites were examined. One was EF Go Ahead Tours, a larger, traditional operator with standard tourism trips (175+) as well a well-developed heritage tour service, including one to Germany which comes with an ancestry DNA kit and a family history review with AncestryProGenealogists. (See https://www.goaheadtours.ca/qgm/german-ancestry-tour-family-emigration-o...). It has offices in US and Canada.  

The German-American Connection, is a smaller tour operator (two principals) offering a variety of tours such as Christmas markets, beer tours, culinary tours, and including ancestry tours, with genealogical support services. It is a German-US partnership. 
(See https://www.thegermanamericanconnection.com/TGAC_Home_Page.html). 

Family Tree Tours specializes in tours and genealogy services to many areas, but with special focus on German-speaking countries. It has two principals, one in based in US and one in Germany, specializing in tours and ancestral support for those going to German-speaking countries. They regularly offer a Baden-Württemberg Tour, and a Heart of Germany Tour through its website. The site also includes a blog, newsletter, videos, events, books, and podcasts for German genealogists. This site is highly-targeted to German genealogical researchers and travellers (https://familytreetours.com/).  This year, it will take any interested visitor, for example,  to the village of Bötzingen, Germany in Baden-Württemberg, population about 5,400, which is hosting an Anniversary Tour and advertising for descendants of their emigrants to come in 2019 to celebrate this ancestral place’s 1250th anniversary (https://familytreetours.com/2019-tours/baden-germany-heritage-tour-2019/). Anniversary celebrations will include the opening of the Exhibition “Emigration in the 19th Century.” This event was not featured or cross-referenced on any other tourism site.

Journey to the Homeland is based in North Dakota, US, which is sponsored by the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection and regularly puts together trips for its members. (https://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/outreach/journey/index.html) 

Central/Eastern Poland

Twelve websites were visited. In addition to the standard fare, some customized operators offered services for family reunions and also genealogical research, with most of those, however, targeted to ethnic Poles and only one targeted to those of any ethnic group with roots in Poland.

Poland Tourism had a site dedicated to the Jews of Poland with information on guided trips to the Jewish districts of Warsaw, Krakow and Lodz. The site reports that the theme of “Jewish Lodz,” is the most frequently selected theme by tourists visiting the city since 2003 when the city began to highlight these offerings, but notes that Jewish-oriented heritage visits have increased in many other regions of Poland, also. The official site of the city of Warsaw, also featured Judaica. Intopoland offered multi-day themed tours (7– 11 days) that included Jewish history and culture in Poland. The Poland Tourism Organisation also had tours related to the Jewish Diaspora.

A few sites targeted genealogists, specifically. Intopoland offered a genealogy tab on its site listing services (research in archives, translation, searches, family reunions, family tree assistance, private guided tours). This was a tab directly targeting anyone with roots in Poland, regardless of ethnic or religious background. This is an independent Polish tour operator, natives of Poland, specialising in tailor-made holidays. The Polish Tourism Organisation offers a site called “Heritage Travel,” but is focused mainly on those of Polish ancestry.

A Village Cluster is a combined website effort of multiple villages in the Lemko region in the Carpathian foothills of southeastern Poland, comprised of areas overlapping Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine. The site specifically targets descendants doing ancestral research and provides history, maps, resources, including links to other sites. (See http://www.avillagecluster.com/history.asp). They provide links to popular destinations of past emigres, (mostly US, where some 150,000 villagers from the region emigrated), specific points of destinations, information on church and civil records, photos, cultural info, and also invites researchers to submit their family stories. They say the following about an ancestral homeland visit, which conveys the potential of ancestral sites in digital brand management:

“The villages are well away from any kind of tourist destination. There are no castles, stately homes, theaters or art museums to lure the interested traveler. There are just the foothills, the forests, a church, tilting headstones, a few houses and grassy ruins. Yet, somehow, there is far, far more. Through this website, we invite you to join others who have found their way to the heart of their heritage, looking for vestiges of what had been, and perhaps will be. External, material aspects of a culture might fade, but not the heart. Not if we refuse to let it die, not if we keep the history and the memories alive.” http://www.avillagecluster.com/homelandVisits.asp

Volhynia/Western Ukraine and “Old South Russia”

Forty sites were visited to cover this large region. In the Volhynia/Western Ukraine region, major tour operators did not offer heritage tours; however, there were private, specialised operators.  

Volhynian Adventure Tours, a USA-Ukrainian partnership, specializing in trips to German villages in current Western Ukraine, previously known as the region of Volhynia (http://www.inthemidstofwolves.com/tours.html).

Dorosh Heritage Tours, based in Western Ukraine, specialises in tours to Western Ukraine and Eastern Poland (http://www.doroshheritagetours.com/genealogy-research).  

Robert Schneider Tours LLC is a Canada-USA-Ukrainian partnership that specializes in tours of German villages in old South Russia and the Black Sea regions, including Bessarabia, Odessa and Nikolaev regions, as well as Crimea (http://russianroots.ca/tours_to_ukraine.html)

Volga German Tours, based in Oregon, USA offers a series of Tours to the German Colonies Along the Volga. It is a private company headed by an American and a Russian who lectures about cross-cultural communication University of Baden-Württemberg in Karlsruhe, Germany (https://volgagermantours.com/).

In Russia, the three major official sites that were visited, were focused on assisting the traveller in getting to Russia and provided tips on how to have a successful visit. Another 28 tour operator sites linked to the Association of tour Operators were examined. These were highly focused on family vacations, beach holidays and cruises, corporate and VIP trips, cruise operators, medical, wellness and spa trips, river cruises, museums and exhibits, sport tourism, event tourism, rail tours, fur fashion tours, cuisine tours. One offered a “cultural tour service”, but there was no detailed information provided.

There were well-advertised tours to Bessarabia, Odessa, Crimea and Volga. Only one offered a German heritage tour (Tours to the German Colonies Along the Volga, a German-US partnership of two principals). Odessa offered a Jewish culture tour.

In summary, the German diasporic tourism market is being reached in two main ways: a) by a few major tour operators who specialize in heritage tours, or b) by smaller tour operators who are native to a region or have formed US or Canadian partnerships closer to its major market. Tours are generally privately escorted, group, or independent tours (you explore on your own and a custom itinerary based on your ancestral home-town, including appointments with hometown officials and archivists, and genealogical contacts). These operators and individuals often have websites or Facebook pages and communicate to their markets online, by word-of-mouth, through genealogical sites, social media, or genealogical conferences. Occasionally, there are also tour services offered by individuals who are native to the region.

Services are largely developing from the points of emigration (US and Canada) with few initiatives by ancestral homelands.

Services to satisfy the general ancestral tourism market can be found by consumers if one searches diligently enough; however, official and major tourism websites (which are more searchable on the web and more likely to get “hits” by tourists) are not meeting this market need nor are they directing, or connecting, ancestral tourists to ancestral tourism services, to any significant degree.

Discussion and Analysis

Considering the many diasporas which have occurred throughout time and the migratory nature of the human race, there is great potential for ancestral and diasporic tourism to the benefit of almost any market. Additionally, it opens tourism possibilities to almost any village, town, municipality or region, and without the “castles, stately homes, theaters or art museums to lure the interested traveler,” (see quote above) since the attraction is the land, itself; a region’s brand asset is simply its location and its history. One specific example is the village of Milpoš, Slovenia, an ancestral village with its own website and resources for ancestral visits (http://milpos.sk). Place brands can be uniquely managed and marketed according to an area’s own history of ethnic migration. This unlocks the marketing potential of even the smallest of locations.

International relations and diplomacy

Place branding has been identified as carrying potential in the process of international relations [16]. Scholars like van Ham (2008) have identified the potential of using commercially-oriented processes, like place brand management, to wield what pioneer scholar of international relations, Joseph Nye, calls “soft power.” Soft power is “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments” through the power of “the attractiveness of a country’s culture, political ideals, and policies” (9, p. 6). Such notions open possibilities for diplomacy and international relations within the arena of digital place brand management.

In pursuing this, however, place brand managers may find themselves identifying and marketing to groups and peoples unlike themselves in race, color or religion. There may even be historical tensions, which may or may not have dissipated with the ensuring generations. Or, tourists may identify with a particular sub-culture within a region, but not necessarily with the major culture, with the existing government or state, or with any particular dominant culture; for example, the Jews in Poland, Muslims in China, Palestinians in Israel, or Ukrainians in Canada. This leaves open the possibility for diplomacy and public relations on the part of brand managers in a move toward relationship-building, particularly through the sharing of culture or the use of cultural diplomacy in the process of ancestral tourism.

A United Nations report (2004) states that proper management of a region’s cultural diversity can produce greater stability within a nation-state [14]. Ancestral tourism, thereby, has potential to play a diplomatic role toward cultural diversity, cultural inclusion, peace-keeping, state survival, enhanced reputations and improved brand asset management. Ancestral journeys to areas with difficult historical relations present an opportunity for opening or growing new markets, effecting diplomacy, and/or mobilizing additional untapped sources of capital for the destination.

What can digital place brand managers do?

Digital place brand managers can a) research the history of their own regions, b) trace migration patterns of various ethnic and cultural groups through their areas to identify potential target markets and publics worldwide, c) examine emigration patterns and identify areas of settlement with the largest market potential, d) engage in consumer research to determine the wants and needs of the targeted market with regard to ancestral tourism, e) build relationships with those targeted markets (through genealogical societies, perhaps by attending conferences and engaging in communication on social media genealogical sites), and f) build an infrastructure and connections within the city or region that can accommodate genealogical needs such as assistance with research, archives, translation, cultural and historical education, meaningful encounters with locals, excursions, and other authentic services.

Further research

Further research could examine other diasporic markets for trends in the digital footprint of tourism services. It could also test for message effectiveness, and also the effects of technology on visits/repeat visits to a region.

References

[1] Brah, A. (1996). Cartographies of diaspora: Contesting identities. London and New York: Routledge.

[2] Burgdorfer, F. (1931). Migration across the frontiers of Germany. In Walter F. Willcox (Ed.), Internal migrations, Volume II: Interpretations (pp. 313-389). New York: National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from https://www.nber.org/chapters/c5114
[3] Eisfeld, A. (1994). Germans in P. Friedrich & N. Diamond (Eds), Encyclopedia of world cultures, (Vol. VI: Russia and Eurasia/China). Boston, MA: G.K. Hall.
[4] Evans, R. (1998). The visitor’s guide to Northern Ireland. Belfast: Blackstaff Press Limited.
[5] Govers, R. (2013). Why place branding is not about logos and slogans. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 9(2), 71-75. doi:10.1057/pb.2013.11
[6] Hall, C. (2005). Reconsidering the geography of tourism and contemporary mobility. Geographical Research, 43(2), 125–39.
[7] Hays, S., Page, S. J. & Buhalis, D. (2013). Social media as a destination marketing tool: Its use by national tourism organisations. Current Issues in Tourism6(3), 211-239. https://doi.org/10.1080/13683500.2012.662215
[8] Manyiwa, S., Priporas, C. V., & Wang, X. L. (2018). Influence of perceived city brand image on emotional attachment to the city. Journal of Place Management and Development, 11(1), 60-77. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMD-01-2017-0011
[9]  Nye, J. S. (2004). Soft power: The means to success in world politics. New York: Public Affairs.
[10] Pohl, J. O. (2009). Volk auf dem Weg: Transnational migration of the Russian-Germans from 1763 to the present day. Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, 9(2), 267-286. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1754-9469.2009.01050.x
[11] Santos, C. A., & Yan, G. (2010). Genealogical tourism: A phenomenological examination. Journal of Travel Research 49(1), 56–67. https://doi.org/10.1177/0047287509332308
[12] Sassen, S. (2004). Local actors in global politics. Current Sociology52(4), 649-670. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011392104043495
[13]  Stratton, J. (2000). Historicizing the idea of diaspora. In J. Stratton, Coming Out Jewish (pp. 137-163). London and New York: Routledge.
[14] United Nations Development Programme. (2004). The human development report 2004: Cultural liberty in today’s diverse world. Retrieved from http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2004
[15] Unsourced reference in Murdy, S., Alexander, M., & Bryce, D. (2018). What pulls ancestral tourists ‘home’? An analysis of ancestral tourist motivations. Tourism Management, 64, 13-19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2017.07.011
[16] Van Ham, P. (2008). Place branding: The state of the art. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 616(1), 126-149. doi 10.1177/0002716207312274
[17] VisitScotland. (2012). Summary of ancestral research, 2012. Insight Department. Retrieved from https://www.visitscotland.org/binaries/content/assets/dot-org/pdf/research-papers/ancestral-research-2013.pdf
[18] Zenker, S., & Braun, E. (2017). Questioning a ‘one size fits all’ city brand: Developing a branded house strategy for place brand management. Journal of Place Management and Development, 10(3), 270-287.

Nizhny Novgorod-Gorky-Nizhny Novgorod: communicative and socio-constructivist aspects of territory branding

09.12.2018

The report is available in the author's edition.

Abstract:

Distribution of such expressions as" image of the city"," reputation of the region", etc., confirms that cities and territories have become objects of communicative management. Branding of territories is one of the manifestations of this process, which reaches the maximum intensity in connection with the spread of electronic media

Modern branding acts as a set of practices, the content of which is determined, in our opinion, by the main aspects of brand definition: object, socio-structural, behavioral and cognitive. For each aspect is meant structuring, which is the content of communication management

It is important to take into account that three types of interrelated objects are involved in the process of territory branding. First, it is the natural-activity objectivity of the territory itself; second, the objectivity is symbolic; third, the objectivity of the media. Nizhny Novgorod-Gorky-Nizhny Novgorod is not just a change of settlement names, but also a symbolic marking of the change of epochs. 1221-1932, 1932-1990 and 1990 and again beginning unequal historical periods, covering the changes to all three "objectivity".

Thus, the natural-activity objectivity of the territory is presented as a geographical environment and its development in human social activities. Cities and regions are developing in the context of the General evolution of Russian spaces

The acceleration of historical time in our example is clearly seen in connection with the modernization processes, i.e. with the inclusion of the region and its Central city in the processes of the first, second, third and now fourth waves of industrial (scientific and technical) revolution.

Symbolic objectivity may be disclosed as a set of cultural elements, systems and configurations (in the terminology by P. Sztompka). In relation to the natural activity content it is a representation of the first level.

Media objectivity, especially in its digital embodiment, is presented as a sphere of communication, where cultural codes are operated. This is a representation of the second level, the importance of which is determined by the increasing selectivity towards the object of representation, the increasing role of "opinion leaders" and, as a consequence, the strengthening of the "constructivist" content of communication.
Those who develop and implement the technology of branding areas should take into account that the relationship of specific subjects involved in the communication process, strengthens the socio-constructivist trends, with all the ensuing opportunities and threats.

Key words: territory, branding, social communication, social constructivism.

Building Regional Brands in the Digital Age (Analysis of the US and Russian Practice)

09.12.2018

The report is available in the author's edition.

Abstract:
The main tools of geographic brand-building and promotion that make regions more competitive, help them support local producers, attract investments and create the feeling of local patriotism are considered in the report. Regional branding can be based on nature and climatic peculiarities, historical and cultural traditions, local celebrities and mythology. The technologies of territory branding, described by Philip Kotler and Al Ries, are universal though they require a new approach in the digital age.

Taking into account the new media reality we live in, as well as habits and lifestyle of IGeneration, the speaker analyzes online channels of regional promotion that include Wiki, state and city sites, tourist portals, travel/ regional groups in the Internet, online papers, magazines, games and quests, personal accounts of opinion leaders and common users in social media. 50 cases of regional promotion in the USA and the RF have been studied. The USA have more experience in regional brand building that deserves special attention of scholars and practitioners.

Comparing American and Russian practice, the speaker seeks to elucidate what methods and channels of online geographic branding are effective. There is a problem of getting relevant information on successful online communication between territorial promoters and target audiences. Content analysis of the Internet media, with special focus on accounts in social nets, may give us understanding what channels and methods are better to use. Stories, myths, and celebrities do work if they create emotions. YouTube seems to be the most resultative means of communication with external audience.

Resources of the Symbolic Capital of the Cultural Environment: Bolstering Image or Place Rebranding?

09.12.2018

The report is available in the author's edition.

Abstract:
In this paper the author discusses the interpretation ambivalence of the notion ‘cultural environment’, and, using the broad interpretation of this notion as a space for culture filled with the results of multi-faceted human activity, the author stresses dynamic changes of culture in the context of intense changes in civilization.

The report develops few aspects. On the one hand, it focuses on active efforts to modernize the environment not only via physical infrastructure transformations and introduction new technology, but also through symbolic resources update, which define new meanings and give a special interpretation to the vector of sociocultural processes in the whole. 

On the other hand, the report describes the main tasks “Culture” National Project and shows what can radically change in culture in the next five years. The author raises research problems for regional scientists and suggests to necessarily keep to the “golden mean” between the immense aims of the state cultural policy and the tasks of “Culture” National Project. 
The society still extremely needs professional personnel, the preparation of programs of different levels, which can help regional administration systems to understand country-wide tasks. In some degree, the response to challenges and risks of the cultural policy strategy aimed at the increase of regions competitiveness will represent an appeal to the creative industries, cultural environment virtualization, i.e. its differentiation. The author raises the debatable issue concerning solving the problems of accessibility of culture through the creation of virtual exhibitions, museums, concerts broadcast, etc. 

In these conditions the need for new approaches to place branding increases.  Using Ulyanovsk city as an example, the author shows the attitude towards traditions and the most powerful stream of innovations. The introduced innovations are present in different contexts and, as a result, they are aimed at the successful realization of the National Project, each subsection of which (“The Cultural Environment”, “Creative People”, “Digital Culture”) solves the tasks, somehow broadening the cultural environment space. The creative assets and symbolic resources of the region by supporting different activities (differentiation and diversity of resources) fill the cultural environment with new meanings and values, corresponding strategic missions of state cultural – creative development of each person and collective identity reinforcement.

Place brand positioning: perspectives from value co-creation and strategic narrative

09.12.2018

The report is available in the author's edition.

Abstract:
The place image is a broader result of a system of communications, information, perceptions, coming from the place and subjectively identified and differently recognized by the actors interacting with the place during the time. Place image comes from direct and indirect experiences, communications and information of the users; the world complexity is made by a multitude of stimuli and information that affect people perception and reduce the opportunity to build a clear positioning for companies and of course for place brand. The place branding strategy supports place to build and provide a place identity, diffusing and communicating right characteristics, values and meanings that should identify the place value proposition.

Different countries and cities around the world are working on place branding strategies, reorganizing the place value proposition, providing a desired place identity and identifying a strategic path to involve place actors (internally and externally) in integrating resources. So, they are working to respect and achieve the place final purpose (increasing a sustainable wellbeing and quality of life of people). Following marketing and business research, the place branding strategy should involve place actors to interact and collaborate (value co-creation) in stimulating the emergence of specific place brand positioning that should emerge as in line with the place identity in terms of values, characteristics and meanings. The place brand positioning helps users to recognize the place with its specific characteristics and elements of identity although it is strongly influenced by the emerging place image. For this reason, around the complexity and confusion of the entangled world and societies, specific communication, education and narrative (specifically using advanced technologies and web communication) are relevant to affirm the place brand identity and the relative positioning.

Building on business marketing and sociological literature, we explain how the value co-creation and the strategic narrative seem to be useful frameworks to affirm the place brand positioning. In particular, the value co-creation approach permits to stimulate the actors interaction inside and outside the place involving subjects to integrate resources favouring the place. The strategic narrative, eventually supported by technology and web communication, could represent a tool to stimulate actors and values around the place identity in order to affirm the place brand positioning.

Keywords: place brand, identity, image, positioning, strategic narrative

Cultural and historical complex «The Golden Whip»: ninth wonder as the basis of the brand of the great Mongolian state

09.12.2018

The report is available in the author's edition.

Abstract:
The modern world («new sociality», «network society», «digital age», «hybrid ontology») as one of the key characteristics has a multivariative potential in determining, finding solutions to almost any problem. At the same time, the more complex the studied phenomenon, the wider the range of approaches to its description and analysis, the identification of its specificity, etc. In a sense, today we can talk about a unique, point representation, the formation and development of objects with a nonlinear structure. The brand of the territory is certainly a phenomenon of this order. This report presents unique practices in the formation of the brand of modern Mongolia, as the successor country of power, might and heroes of the great Mongolian empire, which has no analogues in human history. The creation and promotion of the cultural and historical complex «The Golden Whip», located in the town of Tsonjin-Boldog (54 kilometers from of Ulan-Bator - the capital of the modern Mongolian state) was chosen as the basic case. Technologies of informing foreign tourists, methods of attracting the attention of their own population, ways of forming in the complex a sense of belonging to a great event (event, complicity, cooperation) etc., - author attempts to classify effective approaches to creating a brand based solely on the myths, legends, and beliefs of its target audiences.

Key words: territorial brand, nonlinear structure of the brand, the brand of faith.

Places as a Nexus, a discussion about how places attract inventors

09.12.2018

The report is available in the author's edition.

Abstract:
Why are specific places so often the nexus for new inventions?  For instance San Jose, California well outpaces other U.S. cities in absolute and even relative numbers of patents. This presentation uses ideas from the geography of technology to better understand technology emergence. Features of the physical, social and institutional environment provide strong clues.  Nonetheless strongly innovative regions rarely persist over time. And other technologies, including general purpose technologies, lack any strongly regional focus at all. These elements of geography and emergence present both a challenge and opportunity for measuring emergent technologies using science and technology indicators.

Conferencing out and about: Academic Rituals and the Making of Territories

09.12.2018

The report is available in the author's edition.

Abstract:
The production of academic knowledge and infrastructures that nurture it are not innocent. They are intertwined with the bigger political and economic systems. Not only do knowledge-making entities make the territory (think of Berkley; Cambridge, etc); but there is also a peculiar interaction between the knowledge-making networks and the territorial branding. Consider most prominent academic conferences: typically, they function as a meeting spot for the international  academic networks that hold an expert position in the field. They happen every year or biannually and roam through the countries to be both, inclusive and entertaining for the network members. Yet, what is the relationship between this roaming process and the making of territories? This talk is an auto-ethnographic exploration of how academic rituals, such as conference participation, make and are made by the territories. Grounding myself in personal experience of conference choice, participation, and organization, I aim to address the following questions: How do territories emerge on the conference websites? How the locality and globality are being negotiated? What is the imprint of the territory in the image of academic network? What is the imprint of knowledge-making network in the territorial image?

Keywords: Academic rituals, glocality, conferences, academic networks, territorial brand

New power relations in the digital attention economy as a challenge to the place brand management

09.12.2018

The report is available in the author's edition.

Abstract:
The presentation examines the factors changing the global paradigm of competition between territories and cities in an information-networked society. Three groups of factors are determined. First, the transformation of the global paradigm of civilization confrontation. Secondly, glocalization in all the many-valued inconsistencies of this process. And finally, thirdly, this is the digital-interactive revolution and the social Web generated by it. A characteristic of each of the factors is given. Author stresses the importance of the practical component of territorial administrations activities on the integration of multicultural communities into the social and cultural environment of megacities. The second part of the presentation is devoted to the challenges posed by the digital transformation of social structures for place marketing and city branding. Based on the concepts of economics of attention and critical digitalism, the author shows how the network environment changes the communicative practices of the territory. A structural model of new power digital actors for a megacity / region is proposed. These include traffic monopolists, network elites and network brands. The possible directions of communication logistics of a place in interrelation with these actors of network power practices are shown.

Key words: place branding, city marketing, communicative logistics, critical Internet studies, political elite, digital elite, digital society, attention economy.

The history of the competition of cities for resources is no shorter than the history of the urban format of the spatial organization of social life. The rivalry between Athens and Sparta in ancient times, Rome and Avignon in the Middle Ages, St. Petersburg and Moscow in the glorious years of the Russian Empire was always associated with conscious or unconscious attempts to redistribute resources of three types – high status residents, capital investments and temporary visitors - merchants, pilgrims, etc. Today, these components are associated with three dimensions of the external image of the modern city – for residents and migrants, investors and tourists [9, p. 23-26], [11, p. 17].

It can be said that the paradigm of territorial marketing itself does not change in its substantive meaning. But conditions and technologies of its implementation are changing. The latter are determined by the current civilization chronotope. For a long time, state and bloc borders on the one hand and low speed of communication on the other were the restraints of competition between large cities.

In the mid-twentieth century, Vienna as a tourist or investment destination could not compete with Budapest, like Leningrad with Stockholm or Bangkok.
As a financial center, London did not compete with Singapore or Shanghai. Modernity is changing the configuration of the challenge for effective communication in an urbanized location, especially if the latter pretends to be called an extra-big city - a modern megapolis

Let us single out the most important macro factors that at the beginning of the XXI century has launched the process of the competitive space transformation for large cities. The discourse of the special literature of recent years, both branding and economic-geographic, is built around the dynamics of the communication sphere, - the invasion of the social Web, Wiki-resources, mobile applications, etc. This is true, but the situation, as we see it, is more complex and complicated.

It’s true. But it’s not a full truth. The macro factors determining this transformation are undoubtedly wider and more complicated. In our point of view in the most general form here we can speak of three groups of factors. First, it is a transformation of the global paradigm of civilizational confrontation. Secondly, glocalization in all the many-valued contradictions of this process. And finally, thirdly, this is the digital-interactive revolution and the social Web generated by it.

We would attribute the first macro factor mainly to the political sphere, the second to the economic one. Only the third is of communication nature both technological (as applied to the city’s communication tools) and psychological (as applied to changing the audience communication behavior).

Indeed, the third one - the factor of the communications revolution is a macro factor that transforms all the components of territory’s communication. It is extremely important and opens a whole range of fundamentally new opportunities for the city branding. The second factor - glocalization - is also not overlooked in the discourse of territorial branding, regional studies and regional PR.

Much less attention is paid to the role of the political civilizational macro factor. Meanwhile, as practice shows, political macro-factor in many cases determines the positive or negative dynamics of the megacity reputation for significant external audiences.

We presume that the corresponding political macro factor is determined by the transformation of the basic axis of the civilizational conflict in the modern globalized society. During almost the entire XX century it was the axis of the conflict between the world of socialism, led by the USSR, and the world, we denote it conditionally, anti-communism, led by the United States.

Now the axis of the conflict lies in confrontation between the Western-based understanding of freedom and progress, embodied in the modern Euro-Atlantic technological civilization, and traditionalism, and even ultraconservatism, largely linked to passionate radical Islamism. Although not only with him. This dangerous axis passes straight through modern global metropolitan areas and global cities.

The demand for cheap labor force generates migration flows that leads to the formation of ethnically homogeneous traditionalist enclaves in large cities. The “melting pot” stops working; multiculturalism, as the liberal hope of politicians, ethnologists and urbanists of the second half of the XX-th century, remains only on the pages of monographs and textbooks. And what happens in practice can be seen in the evening Paris or London, and now in the Moscow subway. Or in suburbs where migrants live compactly, explicitly demonstrating the absence of any movement towards cultural relativism, and even more so towards real integration.

The authorities of megacities for the most part understand the situation, but do not always understand how to solve existing and, moreover, future problems. But at the same time, as a rule, this problem is hidden for academic scholars of city branding and territorial marketing

The information flows generated by the official structures of megacities for all three major groups of external target audiences - investors, tourists and capital-intensive potential residents as a rule ignores the indicated problem. But on the other hand, it is presented in the informal Web discourse - in social networks, the blogosphere, telegram channels, UTube. And also, in the media space. And, most often - in the most image unfavorable content sections - criminal news and the chronicle of incidents.

This generates not yet fully realized marketing and image risks for megacities as objects of territorial branding. And it is quite obvious that the problem would never be solved by silencing, or by means of mere branding or marketing technologies.

Megacities have to solve such issues in reality - on the merits. Implement migrant adaptation programs, prevent territorial segregation, work with diasporas, identify positive leaders and arrest negative ones, apply special police measures, etc. But at the same time, it’s difficult to overestimate the importance of communication programs for hedging designated political risks. On the agenda is not only the communication of territorial institutions with stakeholders, but the creation of conditions for the self-organization of stakeholders in the communicative space of a megacity to promote its brand. Moreover, the social Web creates the necessary conditions for it.

If we return to the most important communicative group of macro-factors we should first of all designate the features of the information space of the first decades of the 21st century, which cause new challenges for territorial branding.

This space is [2, p. 17-20].:
• information redundant, highly competitive, extremely noisy
• poorly managed within the framework of the power vertical, uncontrolled by the governor, the mayor, the administration of the territory;
• the transposing role of traditional / non-traditional speakers;
• global, local and individual simultaneously;
• interactive (UGS = Web 2.0) and capable of generating Web waves.

What new should be discussed in this respect?

Our position is that the most important factor in the change of territorial branding is the social and political transformation towards communicative network society. There is a change in the power relations paradigm of digital society and digital economy of the mega-city.

Cities that does not understand this, will lose in the global competition.

I’ll consider the transformation of power and domination formats from the position of political economy of attention, one of the directions of modern critical digitalism. Here we rely the authors shown on the screen. Especially, Jody Dean with the concept of communicative capitalism [3], [4], Christian Fuchs with digital labor [8], Tiziana Terranova [15] (Network Culture) and David Mumby [12]: (New types of human organization). And also, on our own theoretical publications [10], [5].

Let’s start with economy of attention. The Internet is a space for fierce competition for attention. Every user who wants to be successful in a digital environment tries to attract the attention of other users to his digital track - a blog, a community or even a separate post, photos, videos. For a limited amount of time a user can perform a limited number of mediated communications on the Web. It becomes crucial to keep the attention of the audience in the big informational flow when a lot of technologically equivalent sources coexist in the same space and act according to the same rules.

Attention of the user becomes the basis for competition and cooperation on the so-called attention market, which is divided into nodes - sections of the network]. The audience rewards the most interesting content on various parts of the Network with its attention, thereby increasing their symbolic use value. In turn, all these "rewards" in the aggregate give the value of another type – exchange one. In other words, a network site that has attracted attention is valuable as an area of economic interest for market participants: owners of other sites, cities, regions, countries, big business, political and media groups.

The possibility to capitalize attention [5 p. 27-29] generates intricate relations involving Internet users, opinion leaders, business and political actors, cities, regions, media and even governments. In turn, the processes of commercialization of the network environment are aimed not only at encouraging users to direct financial transactions, but also at retaining their attention and further converting it into political, economic and cultural influence.

The territory, the city, being represented in the network in different communicative statuses, on different platforms competes for attention in an asymmetrical communicative space. Without understanding the essence of this asymmetry and the typology of the most important players, the successful functioning of the urban brand in the network is impossible. In this regard, we turn to some aspects of network stratification.

For the city, the region we distinguish a number of power actors in the space of the economy of attention. And the successful brand of the city / region has to win the struggle for influence on these power actors.

The main actors of power are:
• traffic monopolists
• network elites
• network brands [10].
           
The city has to communicate and to work with all relevant digital power actors in order to turn itself into a successful and influential network brand.
Let us consider these actors in more detailed way.

Local traffic monopolists - Web 3.0 prosumers – I invented new word - profisumers.
The second half of the 2000s on the Web have marked the transition from Web 2.0 to the Web 3.0 concept [1] when the quality of content and services is enhanced not only by increasing the number of users but also by increasing the competence of individual participants.

Any user who controls and owns a segment of the Network can draw attention to his product. However, the users who constantly produce a professional product become local monopolists of traffic. By investing knowledge, skills and other resources in the development of their network sites, these prosumers become professionals (digital profisumers) and acquire a special type of social capital than invested in the process of digital branding of the owned network area (site, account).

Thus on the Web segment, there are local traffic monopolists, who become professionals due to social capitalization [7, p. 22-26]. Some of them get the opportunity to enter the network elite, which becomes an elite when it starts to influence stronger, forming values and patterns of behavior.

And this is the next level of power digital actors to integrate into the process of territorial branding. It occurs when a part of traffic monopolists organizes virtual communities, develop certain rules and even codes, and also distribute these values to their audience. In this case they become the network elite - digital opinion makers, those whose opinion is listened to by the audience both on agenda items and in the process of everyday consumption of digital content.

Network brands. Both business and territorial actors - cities, regions, countries interested in being presented in the network space, create network projects aimed at intensive promotion. Network areas of these projects clearly have a marketing component. As a result, appear new power actors - network brands. They can be either virtual reference points of an organization, territory, or even a public person, or have a purely “digital” origin.

A network brand has a specific communicative strategy and clear property rights. A network brand, being a "virtual referent" of an organization, territory, city, or person, concentrate the audience's attention [12].

In any case, the goal of such brands is the loyalty of the audience, the maintenance of awareness and reputation, and further the formation of behavioral patterns in relation to the offline product underlying the network. Including patterns aimed at increasing the social and direct capitalization of the city (region). And in this regard, the city is also able to become a network brand.

Note that any successful region, city, network actor or project may have one or another characteristic, combining, for example, features of a traffic monopolist and a network brand. At the same time, it is communicative capitalization becomes a basic feature of a real power actor with power potential realized not only in network space, but also in adjacent spaces - cultural, economic or political [14, p. 98-111].

Thus, as foreseen by Manuel Castells [2, p. 68], in the conditions of the developed attention economy appear new network formats of power and domination. In this case, we can talk about the redistribution of resources affecting the social capitalization of territories from exclusively institutional actors - mayor's offices or city administrations - to decentralized players - territorial stakeholders. It is in megacities, where smartphone penetration and the concentration of social networks users is high creates a unique situation for producing the communication synergy of stakeholders in the territorial brand promotion.

The question is in the formation of the correct architecture of the communicative space of a megacity - transactional. It is the transactional architecture of the megacity stakeholders - among themselves, with external audiences and city managers that creates new opportunities for solving place branding tasks. If this turns out, the social capitalization of the territory grows and a regional collective world - “Colworld” - is formed - exactly according to the scheme described by C. Shirky. [13, p. 122]. Groups of people - residents, NGOs, activists, greens, members of interest communities, etc. - begin their communication with a simple exchange of information (sharing), moving to cooperation (cooperation) then collaboration (collaboration) begins and, finally, the collectivism stage begins (collectivism). At every turn, the amount of coordination increases.

In conclusion, we note that any modern territory for the formation and optimal branding strategies cannot do without communicative logistics.

Communicative logistics is an activity on the effective distribution of information flows between social actors in order to achieve communicative synergy of the allocated city stakeholders.

For the modern metropolis, communicative logistics is a key direction in the implementation of marketing and branding strategies in a highly competitive environment.
Let's name its main principles:

  • open architecture, flexibility and adaptability;
  • public-state partnership in the development and implementation;
  • openness of project procedures to the public;
  • stakeholder engagement - involvement of all stakeholders and public decision making
  • new power actors involvement

 
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The work was performed as part of the Russian Foundation for Fundamental Research Grant № 18-011-00496 A of the project “Communicative capitalism concept: theoretical foundation and empirical operationalization”.
 
Literature:

  1. Calacanis, J. Web 3.0: the official definition [Electronic recourse] // Calacanis.com. —  URL: http://calacanis.com/2007/10/03/web-3-0-the-official-definition
  2. Castells M.: Communication Power, 2009.
  3. Dean, J. Blog Theory. Cambridge; Malden: Polity Press, 2010. — 143 p.
  4. Dean, J. Democracy and other neoliberal fantasies. Communicative capitalism and left politics.
  5. Dekalov V.V. Vnimanie kak bazovyj resurs kommunikativnogo kapitalizma [Attention as the basic resouse of communicative capitalism]. Rossijskaja shkola svjazej s obshhestvennost'ju [Russian School of Public Relations], 2017, vol. 10, pp. 27-38. (in Russian).
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  7. Faucher, K.X. Social Capital Online: Alienation and Accumulation. London: University of Westminister Press, 2018. — 195 p
  8. Fuchs, C., Sevignani, S. What is Digital Labor? What is Digital Work? What’s their Difference? And why do these Questions Matter for Understanding Social Media? // tripleC. Vol. 11 (2) — P. 237-293.
  9. Gavra D. Modern terminological apparatus of the regional image making theory // PR and advertising in the place marketing system. St-Petersburg, 2012. (Sovremennyy ponyatiynyy apparat teorii regional'nogo imidzhmeykinga. V sb. PR i reklama v sisteme territorial'nogo marketinga.).
  10. Gavra D.P., Dekalov V.V. Communicative capital and communicative exploitation in digital society // Proceedings of the 2018 IEEECommunication Strategies in Digital Society Workshop, COMSDS 2018. P. 22–26.
  11. Middleton A. City Branding and Inward Investment // City branding: theory and cases / ed. K. Dinnie. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. P. 15-26
  12. Mumby, D.K. Organizing beyond organization: Branding, discourse, and communicative capitalism // Organization. 2016. Vol. 23., Issue 6. — P. 884–907.
  13. Shirkey, C. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations . Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London, 2008
  14. Smith, T.G. Politicizing Digital Space: Theory, the Internet, and Renewing Democracy. London: University of Westminster Press, 2017. — 147 p.
  15. Terranova, T. Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age. London: Pluto Press. 184 p.

How to Sell a Country: A Practical Guide

09.12.2018

The report is available in the author's edition.

Abstract:

At this day and age, uniformity is ubiquitous. People look alike, dress alike, eat, drink, rest, spend in very similar ways. There is comfort in conforming. Few wish to stand out, come forward, find one’s calling and follow it. 

Places are like people. We can’t blame them for their unwillingness to be themselves, for following communication fashion or anchoring to graphic design trends. But then they stay a terra incognita, whose fate is only to refresh the heart on their logo every five years or so.

Identity work gives places the opportunity to see their own character, appreciate their own value, fit into the global context, and charge premium for its contribution to the world. We shall consider the place identity projects for Lipetsk Region, Irkutsk and tourism in Russia to show how places can overcome stereotypes, be happy in their own skin, and turn embarrassment into success stories.