There is an old adage that “perception is reality” and that has been proven here. We have missed the beauty and adventure, the food and culture, the history, the architecture, the weather and affordability because our perception is that it is better somewhere else – whether that somewhere else is Denver or L.A.
So how do we change the perception?
Different cities have used different mechanisms. Colorado Springs is attempting to rebrand itself, spending thousands of dollars on a logo and motto, and in exchange they’ve received national ridicule. The Rio Grande Valley in South Texas ran ads on national television stations introducing people to “a whole other Texas,“ and their prize was people still traveling no further south than San Antonio, which is three hours north. Crowley County, Colorado, spent money to bring in major businesses and their return was only being known for prison escapes and fires. Just throwing money and hoping something sticks doesn’t seem to be the answer for changing perception. So what is?
New York City landed on the answer in the late ’80s when they changed their narrative from one that included muggings, rapes, graffiti and terrible winters to that of empires, the greatest city in the world, and “I Love New York.” This passion for a better story caught on and people became ambassadors and propagators of a message that became a reality.
The most effective form of changing a city’s perception is by changing its narrative. Not throwing money at it, but actually changing the story that is told. It has to be a story, for there are some truths so powerful that they can only be expressed in a story. Stories elicit feelings of passion. And passion is contagious, but it can’t be bought. It can only be caught.
How do we change our perception? We don’t. We change the story. What’s yours?