Friday, April 28, 2006

Media Frenzies

Well, I’ve been through some mini frenzies, but the frenzy over an allegation of rape at a lacrosse team party is major. However it turns out, it won’t be pretty.

Nearly everyone in Durham has anecdotal stories about how friends and associates outside Durham are reacting and, as a result, glum predictions about what it will do to perceptions of Durham and its image.

Anecdotes are just that… extreme, given to hyperbole, fear…. It’s the opposite of reading and believing too much of the clippings during accolades, e.g., rankings of best places to live, visit and do business, etc.

But anecdotes are dangerously unreliable. It was reassuring, when national public opinion polling by Opinion Research Corporation, revealed that nearly two-thirds of the nation hadn’t noticed that the media frenzy was taking place in Durham and that about as many people had an improved image of Durham as those whose image of Durham had declined (and only 8% had a negative image of Durham).

The biggest obstacle remains lack of knowledge, and as branding experts often warn, image is long-term balance, no matter the momentary ups and downs from media coverage.

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