Friday, August 06, 2010

The Key To Relevance Is Courage

There is a reason that in surveys, the relevance and esteem with which Durham residents view DCVB as the community’s marketing agency, is two and a half times greater than the national average.CVB Relevance

A lot of the discussion since the issue of relevance surfaced a couple of years ago has centered on things that DMO’s should have figured out long ago e.g. focus on visitors, all visitors, not just room-nights in hotels, take leadership in planning for the community’s tourism future, make information based decisions etc.

To me, though, a DMO like Durham’s has achieved more relevance because it hasn’t been afraid to tackle tough issues head on. Yesterday’s release of the annual crime comparative is a good example. Crime Comparative 3

It’s obviously a DMO’s job to promote a community’s brand including identity and image. But that’s the easier part. Residents know Durham’s DMO also takes point in defending and protecting the community’s brand, identity and image.

This includes unwrapping misperceptions and finding ways to put things in perspective. DCVB unwrapped years ago that Durham was the only community in the state covered by two major daily newspapers and this resulted in twice the coverage of troubling issues.

But the Internet drove misperceptions by making twice the coverage appear to be twice as much problem. But DCVB took it further, as a founding member of the Durham Crime Cabinet and spearheading the 20-organization Durham Public Information and Communications Council, both now “best practices.” Then DCVB used its expertise in benchmarking to team with the Durham Police Department on a report to put Durham in perspective.

I’m sure DCVB still hears the occasional person or two, who work in Durham (typically not a resident,) that “other CVB’s don’t deal with crime” (the insinuation being that DCVB should be ignoring or covering up the issue instead of being so forthcoming.)

But that’s exactly why DCVB has successfully led the charge to improve perceptions, by tackling them head on and in the process emerging with as much higher level of relevance to residents and other internal stakeholders.

That’s how, I sense relevance is a lot about courage.

Most DMO’s just step up in a Pollyanna-istic way. But truly standing up for your community through thick or thin, is what really resonates with residents.

And guess what, Durham’s crime rate is the lowest or next to lowest quartile compare to communities similar in size and make up.

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