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Big Toy public relations machine is ramping up

E. Christopher
E. Christopher

Of the Keizertimes

Just four months before construction, expect to see public relations crank up for the Big Toy project at Keizer Rapids Park.

During Tuesday’s monthly Community Build Task Force meeting, held 126 days before the scheduled June 10 construction start date, plans for renewed publicity were discussed.

Evan Christopher, the son of former mayor Lore Christopher, announced he is taking over as public relations lead on the project from Brandon Smith and will be assisted by Tanya Hamilton.

“Tanya and I met with Mark (Caillier),” Christopher said, referring to the project general coordinator. “Tanya is comfortable with me taking the publicity leadership role I had before Brandon took it over. The first thing we want to do is reach out to the Keizertimes. I have looked at Facebook. I don’t love social media, but I am familiar with it. I have some ideas but I need information, such as about fundraising. I want some ideas so I can make posts about it, who’s donated and how much is still needed. Public relations needs to have someone actively working on it.”

Task force chair Marlene Quinn agreed and noted how fellow councilor Smith has several other pressing issues on his plate right now.

“We need someone active on this,” Quinn said. “I’m glad you and Tanya are taking this on.”

Christopher said goals were laid out in his meeting last week with Hamilton and Caillier, which included meeting with Keizertimes publisher Lyndon Zaitz this week.

“I have some ideas for scheduled posts for Facebook,” Christopher said. “We don’t have to do it every day, but I will have something up at least once a week. I will privately push it out to people as well. It just takes time and effort. I have a stream of consciousness, what I’d like to do over the next five months and things we can roll out.”

Richard Walsh, co-chair of the project’s fundraising committee, noted the various committees overlap somewhat.

“The thing we ran into with fundraising is a lot of it feels like public outreach,” Walsh said. “We have set up meetings with every neighborhood association in the Salem and Keizer area and almost every Rotary club. That list is overwhelming with only four people on fundraising. We need to think of it as everyone’s mission. It’s just too big.

“What we need to get to is the local churches,” he added. “We need to get them signed up. All of these things are intermixed. We need to make the pitch for everyone. We’ve done all the groundwork, so we’re all ready to go. We need to all be thinking about going out, not just the four of us on fundraising.”

Caillier agrees word of the project needs to be pushed out more.

“With public relations, we haven’t done some of the real basic stuff,” he said. “We need to be on the Keizer Chamber calendar, on K23, in flyers at grocery stores. We need to do some real basic stuff. I came away (from last week’s meeting) with the idea they have a solid handle on what we need to do. We need to get volunteers to help do it.”

For good measure, Caillier made a joking reference to the controversial call at the end of Sunday’s Super Bowl.

“We don’t want to get to the half yard line and throw an interception instead of running it in for a touchdown,” Caillier joked. “We need to make the right play calls. We need to take what Richard said to heart. We need to do all the jobs and leverage all the friends.”

Also discussed on Tuesday was the idea of doing a video to publicize the project, as well as translating information to Spanish and getting basic information onto business cards that can be distributed easily.

Quinn also implored everyone to share pamphlets and project posters with three friends each, in an effort to spread the word about the play structure, which is scheduled to be constructed by community volunteers over a five-day period.