This week’s post is about how being a “brand ambassador” for Springfield can help your organization’s bottom line.
My love of Springfield is no secret. My passion for the City has given me a reputation. I am frequently asked by organizations to meet with staff/board members and discuss “how to connect better with the residents of Springfield”.
Now this is not a simple question. We, the people of Springfield, are not one size fits all. However, there is an answer that provides a blanket approach. Love us all and love our City.
Let me explain. I visit a board/staff or group of individuals who want to “help” Springfield. A deep conversation with this group often reveals something troubling. There is a desire to help Springfield (like a pity party), but there is no LOVE of Springfield. It’s not in anyone’s mind that Springfield is a “cool place”. This alone creates a lack of exciting entrepreneurial thinking about our City.
I have experienced this conversation at our region’s higher education institutions over the years. Students will be sent out to “help” Springfield in service, but told in many different ways, directly and indirectly, that Springfield is a “bad place”. And then we wonder, out loud at meetings, why our college graduates don’t want to live here.
This is not happening at every table, but I witness it enough to say something. I am excited about what seems to be a new generation of young professionals in Springfield who love the City. We need to tap their energy and grow our organizations around it. I’ve met students who are determined to get out and experiencing life in Springfield- and they are loving it.
Because, let me repeat, if nobody at your organization likes Springfield, you will never engage with its residents in a meaningful way. EVER. This lesson is translatable to any Gateway City.
I was having lunch in Holyoke recently. A young man, in his 20’s, had a jacket on with a patch across the back that said, “Holyoke, Why be anywhere else?”. Now that’s a big statement that many snarky people could answer negatively. But this young man rocked his pride, ready to defend the snarky remarks.
So, meet this challenge. Examine your own Board of Directors, committee members and staff. Who among them are your die-hard cheerleaders for Springfield? Do you have any? I don’t mean the people who are die-hard, “I want to help the people of Springfield” voices. I mean the, “I will tattoo the city seal on my freaking face” cheerleaders. These are Springfield’s “brand ambassadors” and you need to rely on them to inspire those around them. They have ideas about our city that should be listened to.
If you don’t have any in your midst, find and recruit 3. A dear friend recently told me that minority voices at the table find strength in 3’s. And the pro-Springfield voices are typically the minority. If you can’t find any, I am always available for tours and pep rallies. I also surround myself with pro-SPG folks. Perhaps I can recommend a few!