University of Iowa

Manning - Strategic Communication for Targeting Prospective Residents

Students from the School of Journalism & Mass Communication created strategic communications plan for community leaders in Manning with the goal of attracting new residents to the area. 

Manning, Iowa, with a population of just under 1,600, serves as an example that rural communities can not only survive, but thrive.  Located in the far southwestern corner of Carroll County in west central Iowa, Manning is 80+ miles away from the nearest large metro area, yet offers many amenities and a high quality of life for its residents.  A visit to Manning's quaint main street, with architecture that reflects the strong German heritage, demonstrates that Manning's government, business community, and residents continue to invest and take pride in their community.  Strong local leadership, commitment to working toward a shared vision, and strong partnerships with organizations across the state (including the University of Iowa), all contribute to the success and vitality of this small community. 

Despite being one of the few rural Iowa communities to have positive population growth in recent years, Manning has to be proactive about recruiting new residents in order to sustain its population, school enrollment, labor force, and tax base.  Community leaders believe strongly that Manning is an ideal fit for families seeking a small town lifestyle and that, if prospective residents make the time for a visit to Manning, they'll can prove they have a lot to offer. 

University of Iowa students in the course Advance Strategic Communications worked with Manning to develop plans for targeting prospective residents.  The class was divided into four groups, each tasked with developing a strategic communication plan to influence and attract target publics to move or visit Manning, Iowa.  Target publics range from alumni of Manning, who might be thinking of returning to Manning to start a family, to urban dwellers looking for a slower-paced lifestyle, to minority families that enhance the cultural fabric of Manning and contribute to the local economy.  Final reports include specific projects and tactics designed to help Manning representatives achieve their goal of attracting new residents.