Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Durham Image Watch

A good barometer of a community’s sense of pride is the number of residents or even non-residents who work here and are ready to help identify references to the community that undermine its brand or personality. A deeper reference point is the number of residents willing to intervene and set the record straight.

Durham Image Watch has always been a very small cadre that, through the years, has stepped in and helped DCVB do the heavy lifting. This isn’t about just getting people to replace negative with positive. Defending and scrubbing the brand means “accuracy” not schmooze.

It's based on the well-proven perspective that a community’s image is the mix of positive, troubling and ordinary attributes. Negative word of mouth often infiltrates official channels (airline greetings, media datelines, mail delivery designations, references in advertisements as well as news stories and editorials).

You can’t outrun the damage from these inaccuracies or lack of perspective by just “out-promoting or -publicizing them” with positive information. There is also evidence that civic improvements and developments have little if any lasting impact on reversing these brand threats.

Nope, but people willing to intervene with emails, letters to the editor, phone calls/VMs, and petitions can make a huge difference, and it's something that DCVB can’t do alone no matter how determined.

It also takes people who believe in a two-way street and realize that, just because Durham has been wronged, it doesn’t mean that the end justifies the means when applied to other communities. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

It also requires the ability to sense when the errors are in bad faith and the courage to dial up a bit when confronted with condescension and ridicule.

But the more people involved, the easier it is to execute change. For more info and to enlist in Durham Image Watch:


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