Building a Stronger Reputation, One Story at a Time

If the City of Lawrence, Mass. was a company, which company would it be?

The once great City of Lawrence can’t seem to catch a break.

While the city can be its own worst enemy, it’s hard not to feel for the 70,000 or so souls who reside in aging tenement buildings on narrow streets on either side of the mighty Merrimack River.  They live under the authority of a mayor who is the subject of a recall petition (the second attempt this year) and the target of a Grand Jury corruption probe.  The city’s school system is operating without a permanent superintendent because the School Committee was slow to act in replacing the previous one.  City residents are watching their backs following yet two more murders earlier this month (seventh and eight of the year) on city streets.  And let’s not forget about the 17% unemployment rate — the highest in the state.

If you read The Boston Globe or live in the Merrimack Valley and subscribe to the Eagle-Tribune, then you know about Lawrence.  Well, actually, then you know about the Lawrence that is presented by the Globe and the E-T.  And it isn’t pretty — but you’re not getting the full picture.

If you want the full picture, you’ll have to do some digging on your own because the City of Lawrence doesn’t spend any time evaluating its core values, and if it does, it certainly doesn’t communicate them to its key stakeholders.

Now what company would you compare Lawrence to?  Maybe some of your own customers?  Customers who think they know what’s best for them, who listen only to themselves, who are so close minded about how they are perceived and about what their reputation is that they keep going from bad to worse and not good to great.

Nearly every company that yearns to find relevance, or citizens like many of those in Lawrence who hunger for a reputation they can be proud of –  all have wonderful and meaningful stories to tell.  Stories that can help build relevance, brand loyalty and a strong reputation over time.  Stories that can help a city rise above the negativity and put a bounce back in the step of its residents.

The stories are there.  Inside companies and inside beaten down cities.  But they have to be mined.  Without a doubt, stories are the single most powerful weapon in an any organization’s arsenal.  If an organization wants its brand to have an emotional connection with its stakeholders, then the stories have to be compelling, the content has to paint pictures and ideas have to jump off pages.

Many companies have done just this.  The City of Lawrence can too.  I found such a story in Lawrence just a few days ago.  I look forward to sharing it with you tomorrow.

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