Friday, September 18, 2009

Measuring One of Durham’s Core Assets

City Manager Tom Bonfield and I recently touched on a book we both have read by Dr. Richard Florida entitled Who’s Your City. It brought to mind one of the measures DCVB benchmarks.

One of the most valuable assets a community can have is community pride among residents. Residents deliver on a community’s brand. When you have community pride, you can leverage it as DCVB does in telling the Durham story. But you can’t “create” or “generate” community pride with “rah, rah” or a campaign. It is intrinsic, and some communities have it, but most don’t. Sadly, most don’t even realize they don’t have it.

Thanks to some great advice 16 years ago from Dr. Mitch Javidi of NanoPhrades (nan’ oh fray des) and his then partners, the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau began to benchmark this and other community attributes via scientific, generalizable public opinion polling.

As the community’s marketing agency, DCVB tells the Durham story, and that story has to be in synch with how residents truly regard their community. Otherwise the brand just won’t resonate and it definitely won’t be deliverable.

In telling that story and defending the brand, DCVB can help preserve or perpetuate community pride but the fact that Durham has it and has always had it is an invaluable asset.

Over the past 16 years, polls have documented that community pride in Durham has averaged in the high 70’s. This year it rose slightly from the year before to nearly 86%.

Also significant, few Durham residents are ambivalent. Only 6.8% register as neither proud or not proud. And 7.5% register as not proud with 3% “very” not proud. The ratio of proud to not proud is more than 11 to 1. Very proud to very not proud is also more than 11 to 1.

This is particularly impressive because two of Durham’s other brand values are “being outspoken” and “unpretentious” both of which are often misinterpreted by neighbors of other communities sharing the same news outlets. But it is just the opposite. People who are proud of their community also really care about improving it.

The survey is random and respondents are asked to respond on a likert scale to the statement “I am proud of Durham,” strongly agree, agree, neither agree or disagree, disagree and strongly disagree.”

Occasionally, DCVB has the image of other communities polled with the same question to provide a benchmark. Typically the responses are 30-40% proud, with about the same percentage not proud and the rest ambivalent.

Keep in mind that nearly 40% of Durham’s residents have moved here since the polling began. So the level of community pride has either infused those who selected Durham as a home or Durham tends to attract community spirited people to call this home.

Either way, community pride is clearly one of Durham’s many core strengths and a tremendous asset.

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