Friday, June 26, 2009

Miscues A Result of Misuse of the Airport Name

Business Week is the latest victim of indiscriminate use of the airport name as the name of a place.

By perpetuating the myth that RTP is located “between Durham and Raleigh”, it ends up being nowhere, e.g. “located “outside Raleigh-Durham, NC” as it was in an otherwise insightful article by Peter Engardio. In fact there is no such place as Raleigh-Durham.

And RTP has never been located between Durham and Raleigh. A retired RTP official told me that purposeful “mis-positioning” was originally hatched by the Raleigh Chamber several decades ago when he worked there as a way to distract relocating executives from the true location.

But as happens with these things, instead of rectifying it when discovered, the duped often try to restructure reality to safe face. And Durham may have been much too deferential and polite.

Indeed, RTP is mid-way between Atlanta and Philadelphia or Boston and Miami or Greensboro and Wilson. But it isn’t midway between Raleigh and Durham.

RTP’s actual physical location is Durham NC, four miles from Downtown, encompassed on three sides by the City in a special Durham County District. There is a small portion that spills over into Wake County near Morrisville. If the Park has to be midway between two points, it is in Durham, close to midway between Raleigh and Chapel Hill or more accurately Cary and Chapel Hill.

It is time to humble ourselves and take some advice from branding experts and refrain from ever misusing or permitting misuse of Raleigh-Durham as anything other than the name of the airport.

But is also long overdue for other parts of this family of communities, to “accept” the fact that Durham is the primary location of RTP or to paraphrase Garrison Keillor, they risk being increasingly viewed as small man in a toupe who thinks he’s Tom Cruise and makes you want to say “Stop That!”

To recognize the true location doesn’t require a mea culpa…every community in a 100 mile radius has benefited from RTP…now let’s just give it a home.

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