I'll admit, I've never been a huge fan of New Jersey. I know nice people who come from there, but it's always been a place of too many people, too many stores and too many cars for my taste. And then I discovered Sedge Island.
In one of those meant-to-be-moments, I was the only bidder on a weekend on Sedge Island being offered up as a raffle item at a conference I was speaking at 2 years ago. Having no idea what to expect, I checked out their website and blog, and decided to invite two friends to come with me. My friend Lisa I've known since 3rd grade and Sedge is not the sort of place I'd expect her to love, but she loves her husband and he feels about fishing the way I feel about sailing, so I figured I'd be able to persuade her to come. If nothing else Barnagat Bay is fisherman's heaven. So we arrived via the pontoon boat on Friday morning and settled into this turn-of-the-century rustic cabin, (you can see how unhappy they were :) here we're eating the crabs we caught!
We proceeded to spend 3 days kayaking, clamming, crabbing, fishing and reading in what has to be one of the most beautiful peaceful spots on the planet. We got so friendly with the local wildlife, I arranged a special photo shoot with my friend Segrit the Egret who was kind enough to pose for me as the sun set behind her:
And, while I managed to avoid the subject of PR and Social Media Measurement for almost the entire three days, there is, nonetheless, a reason I'm writing about this in a PR measurement blog.
It all got me to thinking about reputation measurement and how, when I mentioned I was going to NJ, the most frequent response was that NJ and vacation in the same sentence constituted an oxymoron. Yet tourism is the second biggest industry in the state. And with places like this, (that's a link to all 200+ pictures I took while I was there ) it's not surprising.
But my point is in this YouTube and Flickr dominated era, we are all well aware of how reputations can be destroyed in a flash (and frequently without a flash). But they can also be changed by the same technology. Simply by showing them surprising photos of a place that you always associated with refineries and turnpikes, I've changed people's opinions. So next time you're looking at your most recent image survey, trying to figure out what to do about it, don't spend hours trying to refine the message. Just remember that a few photos and/or one YouTube video is worth far more than a thousand words.