The radio spots begin with melodic, easy-flowing music. Out of this background rises the voice of a man singing, not quite literally, the praises of Virginia's Prince William County.

The object of the advertisements, now airing on local radio stations, is to bring business and tourism dollars to Prince William, which this week kicked off an $84,000 campaign to promote the county.

The campaign is Prince William's attempt to sharpen its competitive edge in the increasingly heated battle among area localities to attract economic growth, said John Gessaman, marketing manager for the Prince William Office of Economic Development.

Unlike jurisdictions that have suffered from an unattractive image, Prince William has been plagued with a problem almost as bad: no image at all. " . . . People outside the county probably didn't have a good idea of what we are and where we are," Gessaman said.

Although area residents might be familiar with particular places in Prince William, such as the Manassas battlefield or historic Occoquan, the county lacks an identity to match its growing importance in the region as a population and economic hub, Gessaman said.

As a corrective measure, Prince William, in the radio spots and in print advertisements, is trumpeting its new slogan: "Prince William County. . . . We're a lot closer than you think."

Prince William officials have made business growth a major goal. Although last year was a record year in the county for commercial and industrial expansion, historically this activity has lagged well behind residential growth, which is a problem because new houses usually exact more in county services than they return in tax revenues.

The promotional campaign will try to convince business prospects of Prince William's advantages in location and availability of land and labor. Businesses in Prince William are contributing $9,000 to the campaign.