How To Inspire Grassroots Change In Your City


Rebranding a City: How a community is changing perception with pride for their home.

Originally posted on Online Executive MBA:

Two of our recent MBA graduates, Kristin Stith and Paul Klein, gave an excellent talk at TEDxUniversityofNevada 2014 about being part of the Biggest Little City rebranding effort. This was a group of talented citizens that organized to volunteer time and effort to change the image of Reno, Nevada. The results of the rebranding and grassroots marketing campaign have been impressive.

This is also a great example of a well rehearsed TEDx talk. Kristin and Paul participated in all three of the rehearsals we organized for local speakers starting 3 months before the event. We watched as their talk went from an outline to a script and from nervous reading of lines to a confident performance. The audience loved their talk and if you take the time to watch it, I think you will too. After watch the video, please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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a Community of Hackers

There’s an aura of creativity in the breeze; a wind of innovation that is changing the makeup of the #BiggestLittleCity. Builders, inventors, and makers-of-things-that-inspire-us are abounding. In the last three years, the community has played host to dozens of hack-a-thons , start-up competitions, and TEDx events. Worthy ideas are indeed spreading.

While our vigorous arts community continually designates the area as a creative venue, it’s the recent inclusion of tech, planning, and “hacking“ that are creating an innovation evolution. You, me, all of us are a part of this metamorphosis. Relevance comes from being engaged and adaptive, and eventually becoming cutting-edge enough to drive positive change. This is happening and we’re all driving it.

At last year’s TEDx University of Nevada, a local teenager gave a talk on the concept of hacking. While he references education as his example, the idea of innovation and creativity is what shines through. The hacking concept is about inventing new methods to increase productivity and efficiency. Whether it’s a singular artist, a team of coders, or a government agency, the Biggest Little City is innovating like never before and we’re becoming smarter. In a sense, we’re a community of hackers.

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Public Art vs. Pollution, Round 1

Take a few seconds and count the number of logos and slogans that are within eyeshot. From my desk without swiveling, I counted 32. Imagine how many marketing messages we’re exposed to in a single day.  It’s everywhere and on everything and we hardly notice it anymore. We’ve becoming numb to it. This is why it’s ineffective to drown consumers in ads hoping they’ll buy what you’re selling. If you want to make an impact, you have to move people with emotion and creativity.

A few weeks ago, we were approached by a small group of engineers looking for ways to educate Renoans about the importance of keeping our storm drains pollutant free. The storm drains collect rain water and funnels it to the river. We need this infrastructure so our homes and streets don’t flood. It’s a simple system and entirely different from our sewage pipes. The issue is the oil, radiator fluid, glass and the like, that get’s swept into the storm drains. It all ends up in the river.

We examined the engineer’s education content and thought it was very intuitive. There’s a ton of good tips and even an interactive map illustrating the path of the water at The problem wasn’t the content; it was the appeal of it to the everyday person. The subject is boring and a pamphlet or PSA isn’t going to make people pay attention. So…we proposed we use the one medium that has moved people since the beginning of mankind…art.

This is what we did:

We’re placing posters throughout town as well, they look like this:


Storm Drain Fish




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The Current is What’s Current

It’s been a whirlwind experience since the launched. To date: we have over 100 stories; we’ve presented to about 1,000 people; and 25 businesses have joined the effort by supporting the movement with shares, shirts, hats, donations, and more.

In June, we received $100K donation from the Peppermill and $25K in air waves from local media. We are using these donations to spread the message even farther through ads, outreach, direct mail, and event materials. We need to get into the neighborhoods and rally the community to share their stories or support the movement however they can. The goal is to reach 1,000 stories by the fall.

On Tuesday, July 16th, we’re presenting the movement to the American Marketing Association (AMA-Reno) at the Atlantis. The event starts at 11:30am and ticket details can be found by clicking here.

We’re an ocean current gaining momentum. Jump in, the water is nice.

Recently, blogger Tiffany Brown wrote about the Biggest Little City movement and her words put the campaign into perspective quite nicely. Check it out by clicking here.

The BLC is the spark to the flame that’s propelling this region to unification. If you haven’t already, share your story, share the website, like the Facebook page, post something and tag it with #BiggestLittleCity, or add an icon to your Facebook, Twitter, G+, or email signature. This movement is yours, have fun with it.

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Organically Original

The greatness of the Biggest Little City movement is its originality. The campaign’s path of organic evolution will continue its ability to stay unique. The community is in control of the brand. It’s future is undefined. This is a fun space for creative to live.

There’s nothing more disappointing than campaigns that copy the creative concept of other campaigns. This happens often with the “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign by Dos Equis. It’s constantly parodied and itself is actually a parody of the Chuck Norris facts.

Everyone in the men’s hygiene market has copied the use of randomness and exaggeration humor created by Old Spice. Dairy Queen even used the concept in their RiDQulous campaign. It’s all the same styling and Old Spice does it best because they are the originator.

Toyota recently launched a talking baby spot, which E-trade is world-famous for. I don’t know how that creative even leaves the shop. Anyone who watches it will certainly remember the E-trade commercials.

In the end, originality always wins. Considering this, we designed the Biggest Little City creative in a specific way so that it can be what anyone imagines it to be. We’re working on apps that allow contributors to create their own versions of Big/Little videos and Big/Little graphics. They’ll be launched soon. Here’s some snapshots.


#BiggestLittleCity graphic creator

#Biggestlittlecity Video Creator

#Biggestlittlecity Video Creator

More to come. Follow me on Twitter @PaulKleinReno


a Win a Week In

It’s been a week since the launch. We have 70 stories posted to The site has been viewed 11,000 times since June 5. The Facebook page has nearly 1,600 likes. The TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest pages are saturated with posts and pics signaling #BiggestLittleCity. The initial social following has been wonderful.

The greatest accomplishment, thus far, came on Monday at a regional meeting of local leaders. Electeds and managers from Washoe County, Reno and Sparks, wore Biggest Little City shirts that read, “Big United, Little Divided”. Inspiring. Brilliant. Forward thinking. This is just the beginning.

Big United Little Divided #biggestlittlecity

Big United Little Divided #biggestlittlecity

Today, a few of us implored some story sharing via the airwaves at Wilks Broadcasting (the X 100.1 FM) for the Reno Style show. One of our co-hosts was Kristin Stith. Kristin is the subject of our fifth treatment, Big Hit – Little Scrapper. Kristin moved to Reno to play softball for the Pack. She was on the team that was ranked top 25 and went to the NCAA National Tournament. Kristin made the first hit at the new Nevada softball field. She’s driven and is destined to help us lead Reno into the next era. Here’s her story:

Share your story at

Continued from Sharing My Story, So You’ll Share Your Story.

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Sharing My Story, So You’ll Share Your Story

In five days, reached nearly 10,000 visits. Those are big numbers, but I believe it’s just the start. There is more work to be done and 1,000 more stories to tell. We want all of you to share a story about what the Biggest Little City means to you. Visit and submit a story. If you’re looking for an example, this is my story:

This week, we present the movement to two more groups including the City of Reno business meeting on Wednesday and the Regional Alliance for Downtown on Thursday. The video and print treatments will start surfacing in media this summer. I’m working on another idea to create a groundswell that pushes the movement online and out-of-market. I’m still trying to un-scramble the idea. If you’re an app builder, video infographic animator, or know of any, let me know. I want to create something that changes culture and explodes virally online and I need help. Now to the creative…



The fourth treatment of the campaign features Mark Estee. Mark runs on supreme unleaded. His passion for the Biggest Little City is relentless. A prestigious chef known throughout the nation, Mark reminds everyone his home is Reno. Here’s his story:

So, what’s your story? Visit and share it.

Continued from For the Community by the Community.

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For the Community by the Community

A member of the audience unknowingly started the presentation. We wanted to set the tone that the Biggest Little City isn’t just for those that worked on it, but all of ours. We did this by taping a card under one of the 200 audience chairs. The chair was picked at random. We literally just decided, “That one.” Before we started our spiel, we asked everyone to look under their seats and one lucky fella raised his hand and announced there was a note and it said, “Read me.” We scurried out a microphone and he read this:

The read me card

The read me card

Great moments are born from inspiration. We do our best work when we’re driven by pride and passion. In February of this year, a group of volunteers became inspired to create a movement that is unique to the Biggest Little City. We believe this type of effort has to come from the community so it can speak to the community.

There isn’t one person or business responsible for this effort, but all of us in this room. Each person here owns this campaign just as much as the creators. We’re here to build something great for the city we love. Welcome to the team.

He read it beautifully. The audience applauded and we were on. Clint Jolly led off with some eloquent thoughts on the group’s purpose.

Our next treatment featured Donna Sosnowski from Sepulveda Elementary. A kind-hearted educator that exudes pride and passion when talking about the education system in Reno. Here’s her story:

Share your story at or on Facebook by clicking here.

This post is continued from Off and Running.

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Off and Running

The Biggest Little Facebook page hit 1,350 likes in less than 24 hours. At one point the page jumped by a hundred people in three seconds. Big Traction, Little Page. We’re off and running and the community is embracing the movement.

Reno City Council Presentation on June 5, 2013.

Reno City Council Presentation

Two days ago, we were pacing behind the presentation screen going through our scripts in our minds. Today, we’re trying to keep up with the overwhelming response. The community needed this more than we ever thought. It’s amazing.

Twenty minutes after the big presentation last Wednesday, we packed up and jetted around the corner to Reno’s City Hall. We tried to condense an hour presentation into a fifteen-minute inspiration session. It was a great experience. We ran out of time with two more videos to show. We said, “Mr. Mayor we are out of time but we have more to show you.” He responded, “Please continue.” He and the Council were in. Validation.

Our second treatment featured one of Reno’s Big Movers. He literally moves mountains. Norm Dianda is not only the founder, but the heart and soul of Reno’s Q&D Construction. A native Nevadan, Norm has created a company that can take on any project, no matter how big or small.  After all he’s accomplished, he remains humble, a Little Shaker.



We shot Norm out at the race track. He came willing without any idea of what we were working on. Here’s his little story…

…and the movement continues. Share your story at Need some inspiration on your Big/Little? Watch this brilliantly produced video by a guy with Big Talent/Little Ego, Mark HatJakes.

Follow me on twitter @paulkleinreno and the movement @BigLittleReno.

More to come.

Continued from Big Movement. Little Idea.

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