Vital to invest in city’s image

Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
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Few could ever have envisaged the media storm being endured by Rotherham at the minute.

Damning national press stories day after day, after day. It even landed lead story on night-time BBC news.

The town’s image is being dragged further and further through the mire as the press find ever more lurid stories connected to the awful sex crimes that were taking place under the noses of the great and the good since the 1990s.

The image of the town is set to be tarnished for years to come and likely to result in untold damage to the local economy through investors looking elsewhere to spend their money.

The longer the issues are dragged out, the worse things will become.

You get the feeling things are going to be dragged out for a long time to come.

It has always surprised me how quickly the image of a town or city can be turned from positive to negative.People forget towns or cities are essentially a ‘product’ like everything else and can easily become toxic when the media (and social media) turns against it. It can turn almost overnight in some cases.

Nottingham enjoyed fairy tale-like buoyancy for years until, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it became better known for gun crime than the Merrie England-charged centre of the legend of Robin Hood.

Lawless binge drinkers, drug killings and a city painted as the crime capital of England was the image portrayed by the media. The humble bow and arrow didn’t stand a chance.

It demonstrates the importance of developing the right image – investment in communication is key.

Sheffield has struggled with the notion of investing in its image in recent decades but there has been some sterling work in recent years that has created a firm basis to build on.

It has regularly been the city’s success in popular culture that has given it the upper hand.

There’s no doubt Sheffield was like a rabbit in the headlights with the worldwide glare of The Full Monty film but you’d like to think, with hindsight, the city has realised that being the star of one of the most successful comedies of all time provides a kind of warmth for the city and investing in its image is money well spent.