Rethinking place branding governance: the implications of a stakeholder-orientated approach when managing the presentation of complex places

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Cardiff Business School


The way cities, regions and nations are branded is changing. Instead of communicating images with scripted logos, slogans and taglines, there are calls for branding to centre on the perceptions and activities of the people who live, work, and invest within its boundaries. Building on these changes, my PhD research showed how different groups perceived and prioritised their city and examined the extent these groups can participate in branding activities. Despite the calls for greater inclusion, the findings pointed to the dominance of large businesses who have access to the knowledge, resources and connections needed to influence the direction of branding activities. The fellowship aims to strengthen these findings and their impact through four complementary work streams:

WS1: Establishing industry collaborations
The first major aim of the fellowship is to enhance the practical and policy impact of my research through industry collaborations with the Development Bank of Wales and Federation of Small Businesses. Together, we will co-design a report and one-day event looking at the potential for small businesses to provide leadership for different groups of stakeholders when creating a shared vision of places. In particular, the socio-economic impacts of these approaches will be examined. The co-designed research aligns to the place and business environment foundations of the Industrial Strategy, supporting businesses to develop and present their competitive strengths while working collaboratively to promote prosperous places.

WS2: Strengthening research dissemination and development
A second overarching aim centres on developing skills and outputs required to establish myself as a professional researcher. Central to these aims is the dissemination of publications from my PhD. This will involve three publications in well regarded academic journal articles in the fields of place branding, marketing and tourism. Extending the reach, I aim to publish my findings in more accessible and engaging formats, including blogs for the Institute of Place Management and City-REDI (Centre for Regional and Economic Development Institute), policy briefings and a Conversation article. A further audience to be targeted is students, with my research being translated into lecture material and taught to undergraduate and masters level students at universities in the UK and Ireland.

WS3: Supplementary data collection and analysis
Thirdly, I will supplement and strengthen my PhD findings by focusing on the potential for small businesses to work together to develop and coordinate branding strategies. This will involve co- designing a research strategy with my industry collaborators based around interviews with small businesses in the Cardiff area, observing engagement between business stakeholders at industry events and through access to existing data held by the industry partners. These findings will support my aim of developing a multidisciplinary base for future career development and extending the scope of the socio- economic impacts. Based on this pilot study I will plan a further multidisciplinary publication and subsequent funding with my fellowship mentor, Prof Max Munday.

WS4: Networks and collaborations
The final overarching aim utilises the resources available through the fellowship to develop academic, industry and policy networks and collaborations. Pivotal to this WS is the invitation to undertake an institutional visit at the Institute of Place Management in Manchester. The policy and practitioner focused research centre specialise in place management research and has access to a wealth of resources, connections and training opportunities. The visit will also strengthen existing connections and provide a base for collaborative working in the future. Other routes to networks and collaborations are through attendance and feedback at academic conferences, covering place branding, marketing and regional economic development.
Description The main purpose of the ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship award was to build a strong portfolio for the PI based on their PhD research and to support existing research dissemination and future collaborations. This has been successful and the grant holder has recently been awarded a permanent academic position at Cardiff University and has successfully disseminated their work and built strong networks for future collaborations and ongoing research.

The fellowship proposal was divided into a number of work streams. Key objectives from these work streams have been met within the landscape allowed by Covid-19. This includes:

- Dissemination of research in high-impact international journals
- Presentation of findings to academic and non-academic audiences
- Dissemination of research through blog posts
- Building of networks with industry and practice
- Collection of follow-up data - specifically looking at the PhD findings might be deepened in the context of Covid-19
- Building of academic portfolio for future employment
- Development of teaching and research skills
- Experience of designing and delivering key lectures
- Participation in advisory panels and committees
- Active participation in University life

The fellowship included follow-up data collection, consisting of interviews with key informants on the impacts of covid-19 on the way in which stakeholders are able to contribute to their local area and cities. Research is being written up into a report that will be published and presented in subsequent practitioner and academic events.

I have also developed a very strong pipeline of publications in progress and under review that will substantially support the development of my academic career. In addiition, I have developed new writing partnerships in preparation for future publications.
Exploitation Route A research agenda on stakeholders' participation in their local place management and marketing has been developed and embedded. Research can be used to help inform future research and teaching on the area, and to contribute to ongoing policy and practitioner debate.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description I have been actively disseminating my research into academic, practitioner and policy channels for advisory panel appointments, contributions to think tank recommendations, blog articles, and academic engagement through publications and conferences. These findings have been shared with parties and impact will tracked over subsequent years. A partnership has been confirmed with the Institute of Place Management, which will be further advanced to include shared policy initatives on local place management. An ongoing collaboration with the Development Bank of Wales continues despite large scale hurdles created by Covid-19.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Retail
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

Description Advisory Committee Member for Institute of Welsh Affairs
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact Contributions were translated into policy facing documents, advising Welsh government and connected stakeholders on steps to better involve workers and businesses in their foundational economy policies.
Description Citation in Institute of Welsh Affairs report
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in systematic reviews
Description City Region Economic and Development Institute (City-REDI) Advisor
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact Qualitative insights on the future of stakeholder participation in cities and their presentation after the Covid-19 pandemic. Research was shared and disseminated to their academic and practitioner networks to guide solutions to societal problems.
Description Collaboration with Institute of Place Management 
Organisation Institute of Place Management
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Networks and collaborations with the Institute of Place Management were developed and outputs produced. A one-month placement with the IPM allowed my expertise and intellectual input to be shared during team meetings and advice was offered on going projects and developments. My work was shared on the High Streets Task Force (one of the key government funded projects which the IPM works on) and I presented my work to academics and practitioners in a scheduled event.
Collaborator Contribution Knowledge exchange networks were built based on a sharing and dissemination of expertise. Access to data, equipment and facilities was also offered.
Impact High Street Task Force research repository. Presentation at academic and practitioner event. Establishing policy connections and ongoing research avenues.
Start Year 2021
Description Advisory panel member for the think-tank and policy research institute (Institute of Welsh Affairs) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Member of the advisory panel for the Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA), focusing specifically on the foundational economy and stakeholder participation. Sharing of expertise and research to be included in a series of policy reports produced by the IWA.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
Description Advisory session for Cardiff University Researchers' Association 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Researchers on a Research only pathway were included as a part of the annual Cardiff University Researchers Association. I led a session on research during Covid-19, my research development and gaining fellowship experience and funding.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
Description Blog for academics and practitioners 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Dissemination of research to a wider audience in an accessible manner to be shared with practitioners, policy makers, academics and general public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
Description Expert panel discussant for Institute of Welsh Affairs 2021 Virtual Economy Summit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Expert panel discussant for Institute of Welsh Affairs 2021 Virtual Economy Summit on the topic of stakeholder participation in the decarbonisation of the Welsh Economy. Discussions sparked and policy action debated.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021