Public Relations

Clarksburg Premium Outlets at Cabin Branch

The Client

Simon Property Group, Inc. (NYSE:SPG) is an S&P 100 company and a leader in the global retail real estate industry.

SPG wanted to develop one of its Premium Outlets in Upper Montgomery County, Maryland with the help of two other developers, Streetscape Partners and New England Development. Both Streetscape Partners and New England Development are leaders in real estate development, particularly with respect to their retail portfolios.

The Challenge

To gain approval for construction of what eventually became known as Clarksburg Premium Outlets at Cabin Branch, the developers needed to secure approvals from numerous County agencies and, ultimately, the support of five of the nine members of the Montgomery County Council.

Complicating the many steps normally needed for approval of such a large project was the presence of a small, but very vocal group of Clarksburg residents who were opposed to the project and a bid from a competing group of companies to develop another outlet mall in Clarksburg – an area that could not sustain two outlet centers.

The Solution

Pugh & Tiller worked with its partners to develop a strategy that included media relations, social media, community outreach, and public affairs.

The tone of the campaign was to be very positive and did not stoop to publicly attacking the competing outlet developer, which was in marked contrast to their actions. Tactical elements were timed to coincide with key Planning Board and County Council meetings and votes.

After creating messaging and identifying project spokespersons, Pugh & Tiller introduced the project and the key executives responsible for the development to the public through a series of one-on-one background briefings with Washington, D.C. and Montgomery County media. This initial media coverage was followed by numerous community meetings, ongoing social media posts, and – as community supporters were identified – a series of letters to the editor of local newspapers, expressing support for the project.

The Results

The consistent outreach to media and the community ensured the project maintained the highest level of visibility with a very interested and informed community.

That, in turn, led to increased pressure on the County Council to approve the project. In the end, the project received overwhelming support from the community and secured the needed votes from the County Council to move forward on the development.