A report says cholesterol levels dropped by a tiny percentage in most people in a test group who ate a handful of a particular nut every day. Do those nuts lower cholesterol?
Next question, would you feel comfortable being paid to promote those nuts on that basis – claiming unequivocally that eating those nuts will lower cholesterol?
I questioned the science and the ethics of that campaign in my early PR days. That experience made me pay close attention to future client campaigns and contract opportunities. We all have our own truth and it’s important to believe in what we stand for.
The moral challenge of working at ‘the big Aussie’ miner was palatable because my role included managing global sustainability reporting. I could influence for the ‘good’.
Most importantly, as we drilled the detail of that company’s performance in global health, safety, environment and community development, I learned the need to properly collect meaningful data.
“Get the right data and get the data right.”
The data about Geelong - the good news about the region’s performance - is generally exciting and inspiring. On the other hand, the Ford announcement was a shock, but really no surprise. The issue now is ensuring a graceful exit by the Big Three global corporations and managing the collective grief our community will naturally suffer.
Meanwhile, various studies provide insights into Geelong’s progress, or not, in recent years. But do these studies have the depth and longevity on which to plan a future?
Are we collecting reliable, unbiased data to influence how we plan our infrastructure, stimulate the economy, protect our environment and tailor community services into the next twenty to fifty years?
I, along with a zillion others, am passionate about creating an appropriate brand for the Geelong region. But I cannot emphasise strongly enough the need for substance behind the style before we rush headlong into taglines and logos.
Can I bluntly propose this is not the best place to live, work, play and invest while there are limited job opportunities? With no place to work, there is neither money to play, nor to invest.
Furthermore, anecdotal comments suggest that people outside Geelong consider it a great place to visit, but a bit like the uncouth, possibly corrupt, cousin to Melbourne.
When TAC staff were surveyed about their perceptions of Geelong before the organisation moved here, the feedback was little short of ugly. The research was shelved. While that was some years ago, the trend appears to be a reluctance to ask the tough questions or seek meaningful research. We are an introspective lot and navel-gazing is a well-documented local hobby.
We need the brutal facts about Geelong’s current positioning to decide what we want this region to be and how we are going to make it happen.
It’s not rocket science but no one seems to have a clue where to start. The regional leadership is fragmented and unfocused. We are drowning in taskforces, committees and community boards of management.
There is so much scope for articulating our future and creating an unassailable strategic position and associated image.
But the future picture needs to be based on meaningful and current information that can be compared year on year and used to set targets. By targets, I mean goals for making things HAPPEN, not just ambitions that provide bragging rights for the one who claims the idea as their own.
With a clear strategy, it is possible to create the brand elements around the personality of our flagship town. Until then, there is a risk is that it will be based on guesswork, vested interests and short-sighted piecemeal visions.
In communicating the image and values that reflect the unique nature of the people and the region, we should use the full brand communication toolkit. The fun things include a Geelong emblem, a mascot, a song, a ‘face of Geelong’, a strong tagline and a deeply connected story that describes the character of Geelong and its people – from coast to country.
And, yes it needs to include football but we are maturing and that means being about more than our football club.
The process need not be from a multi-million dollar advertising agency spouting brand DNA, essence or other jargon du jour. Our population is delightfully peppered with people from all walks of life – be they well-educated, artistic, down-to-earth, soulful, intelligent and/or pragmatic. Qualified people quite capable of describing what Geelong should be all about.
I’ve said it before; the trick for Geelong is making sure it is inclusive. More people need to be brought into the discussion and it’s critical that a truly diverse group shares the journey.
The future is what we make it. We just need to be careful not to suggest that living in Geelong will lower your cholesterol.