Celebrating Southern Maryland: Sharing a Hidden History for a Brighter Future

By Kristen Peterson, Vice President

Last month, The Hatcher Group partnered with Destination Southern Maryland to launch a new National Heritage Area with an integrated marketing and communications campaign. The launch included branding, materials, media relations, and digital and traditional advertising, all of which culminated in a large-scale event. The designation raises Southern Maryland’s profile and brings great economic, environmental, and cultural benefits to the region. The project included multiple Hatcher sectors—the environment, education, and equity and opportunity—to showcase all that our firm and our talented staff have to offer.

National Heritage Areas connect communities, promote awareness, and foster interest in our rich natural resources and diverse heritage. Southern Maryland is home to First People, a vital component of the history of the region, Maryland, and the nation. And it was in the first capital of Maryland, St. Mary’s City, where the basic human right of religious freedom was put into law for the first time in the entire Western world.

Our client, Lucille Walker, executive director of the new National Heritage Area, wanted to shed light on some of the state’s hidden history, including injustices, to learn how to make Maryland and our nation’s future brighter and more equitable for everyone.

We collaborated with Lucille and team to bring the new National Heritage Area to life, starting with a striking logo commissioned by a local artist, Donald Ely, that showcases the unique aspects of the area’s landmarks and history: Calvert Cliffs, water, tobacco leaves, and a canoe. With the new visual identity and related brand guide complete, we developed promotional materials, including a fact sheet, an eight-panel infographic, posters, and stickers. For the event, our design team created signage, banners, a program card, and other swag, including a pin and tote bag. We elevated the campaign and amplified the event with digital and traditional advertising.

We developed an earned media strategy and pitched local reporters and national tourism outlets. We also crafted a media advisory and press release about the launch of the new National Heritage Area, which included quotes from elected officials that attended the event as well as members of Congress who helped pass the legislation. The event garnered media coverage in targeted outlets; coverage continued well after the event ended.

The festival-style event was held at Piscataway Park in Accokeek, Maryland, and featured Gov. Wes Moore as the keynote speaker. Leaders from the Piscataway Indian Nation and the Piscataway Conoy Tribe spoke at the event, along with U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz and Maryland Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller. More than 600 people attended the day-long event, which featured performances by members of the Piscataway tribes, a youth rhythm club, and colonial singers. Hatcher handled complex event logistics—registration, the run of show, speakers and performers, signage, swag, volunteers, and vendor coordination (including AV equipment, catering, and staging). Our multimedia team captured film and photographs of the event and developed a 60-second highlight video of the celebration.

From our client: “I wanted to let you know that the responses are ‘fabulous, thrilled, and amazed’ regarding the event! We couldn’t be happier with you all.”

We were honored to support Destination Southern Maryland in creating such a meaningful experience to launch the new Southern Maryland National Heritage Area.