Communications and Media students of the University of Central Asia’s Class of 2021 are exploring how to brand Naryn to promote socio-economic opportunities in the mountainous regions, and enhance the quality of life in Naryn Oblast by providing better jobs and living conditions in the region. Students presented branding proposals to a panel of UCA faculty and staff, and the Director of the School of Professional and Continuing Education.
The branding proposal is in line with UCA and Aga Khan Development Network’s long-term plans to further enhance socio-economic opportunities in the mountainous regions. The projects, proposed to a panel on 9 November 2019, are expected to increase the quality of life in the Naryn Oblast by the providing better jobs and living conditions in the region.
UCA will formally present a copy of the plan to Naryn government officials in the spring semester, should the authorities choose to include some of the projects in the 25-year master development plan for the Oblast.
The Branding Naryn project was the focus of UCA’s Junior Students’ Strategic Communications course, through which the class was divided into three groups, each group offering a short-term and a long-term project promoting tourism, organising cultural and sports activities, and raising awareness about the region’s environmental problems and activities that could ameliorate the negative impacts of the worldwide environmental crisis on the region.
In particular, the projects proposed involved organising a Central Asian ethno-cultural festival, launching an extreme sports centre, developing and promoting the Son-Kul area, promoting plastic-free Naryn, planting 1,000 trees by the end of 2020, and changing the mindset toward eco-shopping by encouraging local businesses to produce organic goods and supporting new business in Naryn that would make environmentally-friendly products.
Given the mandate of the class as a strategic communications course, the bulk of the emphasis was put not on how to run profitable businesses or how to fund them, but on how to provide short-and-long term tactical and strategic communications planning to make each project a success in its own right.
Mindful of the planning and funding requirements, however, the students in each group meticulously chose one short-term project that the government, and its partners could get off the ground within a year, while suggesting a longer-term project that might take 2-3 years to launch.
The communications strategies included what material need to be produced before and during each project, as well as conducting after-action review so lessons learned could be applied to future iterations of the communications activities. Each project recommended tailored activities and communications strategies such as posters, banners, brochures, making use of national and international media, running specially-designed websites, as well as conducting capacity-building training sessions as needed.