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Group pushes belief in Detroit

When it comes to the city of Detroit, it seems everyone has an opinion -- and all too often it's not a positive one. Yet, not all Detroiters are standing idle as others make snap judgments about the city they love.

After attending a state conference on Mackinac Island back in 2009, Sandy Hermanoff, CEO of Hermanoff Public Relations, decided it was time to do something positive forDetroit. As a longtime supporter of the city, Hermanoff wanted to focus her energy on getting others to believe in the potential of Detroit by focusing on the area’s health care, entertainment venues, sports teams and cultural and educational institutions. She took the idea to Paige Curtis of The Curtis Group.

Together, they launched the “I’m a Believer” campaign.  

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They asked, “How can we change the image of Detroit if those who live here are not willing to be advocates or ambassadors?” And with that, their campaign soon began to catch the attention of media outlets across the country, as well as that of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, which later helped turn the concept into a 501c3 nonprofit.

The purpose of the organization is to unite all of Detroit’s “Believers," as well as prompt other local residents to become “Believers" who are willing to volunteer their time and resources to help Detroit.

“The ‘I’m a Believer’ campaign began and remains an initiative to motivate everyone in southeastern Michigan to stand up and help – volunteer, tutor a child, clean up a neighborhood – anything to improve the morale of Metro Detroit. Because if we all do something, we can do anything,” explained Hermanoff.

Right now, Hermanoff and Curtis are the only people directly involved in the project, yet they are working to form an advisory board, as their organization has been picking up a great deal of traction.

“We know thousands of people have been on the website to connect with nonprofits or events they are supporting and many nonprofits have raved about the hundreds of volunteers who have given their time and effort to make Detroita great city again. We feel this is one of the only campaigns that has a specific call to action. And that call to action is in every one of our spots," she said. 

"When we first started the campaign a year and a half ago, several people sent emails and called saying they planned to stay in Detroit because of our campaign. One person, Tami Salisbury, executive director of the Eight Mile Boulevard Association, said they had hundreds of new volunteers that emanated from our website for Detroit Clean the D Day," Hermanoff noted.

Hermanoff worked closely with Curtis to develop a series of PSAs for TV and radio in which the campaign objectives are highlighted and easily featured before an audience. Some of the more notable faces within these PSAs include Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Metro County Executives Robert Ficano, L. Brooks Patterson and Mark Hackel, Wayne County Prosecutor Kim Worthy and best-selling author Elmore Leonard. Additionally, Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee and famed radio personality Dick Purtan have been featured.

“Because our TV spots have been aired more than 200,000 times by area stations, we are thrilled by the responses we are getting, said Hermanoff. “We have even partnered with ARISE Detroit for Neighborhoods Day, and Music Hall is doing a Believer concert in February 2012 and we are part of the People Movers organization,” said Hermanoff. “Cobo Hall wants to do a volunteer day, and we are trying to raise funds for a float in the Thanksgiving Day Parade.”

To learn more about the “I’m a Believer” campaign, please visit their website here.

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