Promoting West Virginia from the Inside Out
There’s been a lot of talk about West Virginia in the press recently. From the Democratic primary election, where the whole state was presented as gun-toting racists by the John Stewart Show (among others), to Cheney’s tongue-in-cheek (or was that foot-in-mouth?) comments about inbreeding, it’s been a tough few months.
Now, I have a sense of humor. I actually think John Stewart is hilarious – though I would expect a little more thought and diplomacy from our nation’s vice-president.
Regardless, if West Virginia were a business, now would be a good time to get proactive in our marketing. So, in honor of the state’s birthday, I thought it would be fun to examine how we can break out of old stereotypes or – better yet – replace them with new ones.
First Law of Marketing: Perception is reality. Whatever we perceive (and believe) about ourselves will eventually become our reality. In turn, the more our reality is perceived by the outside world, the more it becomes universally accepted as a snapshot of what we are.
Therefore, it’s up to all of us to create our new “stereotype” and I’m part of a group that is literally changing West Virginia from the inside out. They’re bringing new jobs, new opportunities, new people and new vision to the Mountain State. What’s the name of this remarkable association?
It doesn’t have one. This group doesn’t have a name because it’s not officially sanctioned, organized, or structured. It is groups of people around the state that have said “enough” with the old West Virginia stereotype and have decided to create a new one.
It’s Jason Keeling who organized this discussion through his http://www.abetterwestvirginia.com/ network.
It’s Jeff James who has shown remarkable leadership in introducing state leaders to New Economy opportunities through the Creative Communities Team and the Create West Virginia Conference.
It’s the members of Generation West Virginia who finally organized the state’s young professionals network and is now empowering these emerging leaders to generate real, positive change in the state.
There are scores of others I know. All working to build a new image of the state they call home. It may take a few years, or even a few decades, but these are the people that will change West Virginia forever. And I’m so proud to be part of it.