City puts best photos forward in award-winning city calendar

By: Jessica Strachan | Southfield Sun | Published October 3, 2012

 The 1854 Church photo at the Burgh Historical Park was taken by Jerry Zolynsky in the beginning of 2011 for the December 2012 calendar page.

The 1854 Church photo at the Burgh Historical Park was taken by Jerry Zolynsky in the beginning of 2011 for the December 2012 calendar page.

SOUTHFIELD — Stacked up against more than 800 other submissions, Southfield’s 2012 city calendar showed off the best of the community in a national competition and took a top spot for its graphics.

Southfield’s Annual Report/Calendar for this year won the Silver Circle Award in the 24th annual Savvy Awards Competition, sponsored by the City-County Communications and Marketing Association. The award was announced Sept. 6 at the 3CMA annual conference in Portland. Southfield took second place in the category of graphic design – art and photography for communities with populations of 16,000-78,296 people.

“Southfield is actually a perennial winner, and we’ve won several awards through the years from the calendar,” explained Michael Manion, community relations manager for the city.  “Through the years we’ve even gotten first place, and it’s quite an honor because it’s a national competition.”

Even though the city fell just short of the No. 1 spot for this year, the award-winning calendar sets an example for how other cities promote their communities, officials said.

“(The calendar) is a pretty major project, and Southfield has done it for the better part of 25 years,” Manion explained. “We’ve actually set the benchmark pretty high for municipal calendars.”

Manion said that’s because of the professional quality that the city shows in shooting, designing and producing the calendar entirely in-house. The Public Relations Department, three people strong, does bring in a professional photographer, though it’s not uncommon that it’s Manion and other city employees capturing the community on camera with the calendar in mind.

The director of community relations, Nimrod Rosenthal, has logged more than 25 years in Southfield and began with a retail background, and an eye for sophisticated design and production. Manion, who has been there 11 years, and Louise Carr, who has worked in the department for 13 years, round out the team.

Rosenthal said the calendar is meant to be functional for both the city and for its people.

“We always looked at the calendar as a signature marketing tool for the city,” he said, adding that receiving the award again this year was an honor. “We strive to make the calendar an attractive, professional publication that will be used by residents and instill a sense of pride about our beautiful community.”

Manion added that the year-long project was once “farmed out,” though it’s evolved to an in-house project that the team compiles on a Mac computer.

“We try to incorporate a theme and definitely try to make photos identify Southfield, making them relatable,” he said. “We typically incorporate landmarks — neat, novel places only Southfield offers — as well as the diversity of the community.”

This year the theme was “Beauty of the Seasons.” True to Michigan weather, Southfield’s photos show the bright sun and lush gardens, the changing colors of fall, and the icy winters.

“So what if three months showcase snow and ice? We’d move there just for the spring flowers!” an Arizona-based judge commented on Southfield’s calendar entry. Another judge noted that the calendar features “exceptional photos of a community wearing its best seasonal colors,” calling it a “page-turner.”

The Savvy Awards are held annually in cooperation with the National League of Cities to recognize outstanding local government achievements in communications, public sector marketing and citizen-government relationships.