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Indiana hires global public relations firm after Religious Freedom Act controversy

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation, IEDC, has hired global PR firm Porter Novelli to help build a publicity plan that will reach people nationally and show that Indiana is a welcoming place to live, work, and visit.

The IEDC is responsible for growing businesses in the state and attracting new ones to Indiana. After the negative publicity surrounding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the IEDC accelerated plans to strengthen the Hoosier Hospitality image.

“It was all over. It went national and really giving the state of Indiana some really bad publicity. There is no room for that in modern day society,” says Michael Grabowski, an Elkhart resident.

Grabowski says he has been following the news and says the negative image left of the state has spread like wildfire.

“But the damage is already done, ya know they put it out there,” says Grabowski.

IEDC recognized this damage and ramped up publicity plans.

“This controversy has really affected our thinking and it's added reason to do this but the reason was there before. It's not to make up for something. It's to say we have a $10 billion tourism industry,” says Chris Cotterill, the Executive Vice President at IEDC.

Cotterill says Porter Novelli will assist his organization in coming up with a number of creative strategies to show tourists and potential business owners what Indiana has to offer.

“We identified a firm that would really help take Indiana's brand, our community and our people, the way people think and feel about Indiana to the next level,” says Cotterill.

But some public perceptions may be a little harder to sway.

“They might be able to fix it a little bit but once you put certain things out there, there is no taking it back," says Grabowski.

Specific marketing plans have not been laid out but the IEDC says it's all about taking the Hoosier image to the next level. They hope to reach new platforms like social media and even music players like Pandora.
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