Greenville chamber launches program to battle the ‘blight’


By Daily News • Last Updated 11:16 am on Tuesday, May 01, 2012

GREENVILLE — The Detroit News recently published a story about Greenville that was negative and misleading.

Oddly, the newspaper used the word “blight” to describe Greenville. The Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce has decided to turn those lemons into lemonade.

“Normally we ignore stories like that, hoping it will just fade away, but the time has come for Greenville to stand up for itself,” Chamber Executive Director Candy Kerschen said. “We really have a lot to be proud of. When this first came out, there were several people in my office and we were sort of poking fun at their word blight Really? Where? As it turns out, for several reasons, their timing couldn’t be better.”

Time to go viral

With recent growth and changes in Greenville, it’s time to “go viral” with the real Greenville, hence the “Join in. Speak out.” video contest. Greenville residents are invited to get creative, have some fun, and enter a 1-minute video demonstrating the cool things happening here. Videos should fit into one of three themes: “Building Greenville,” showing the construction and growth happening around town; “Fun in Greenville,” highlighting recreation, sports, the arts, festivals, music, etc.; or “Paying Our Way in Greenville,” showing people at work in Greenville, from customer service folks to doctors, teachers, skilled trades, agriculture, whatever you want.

Turn a negative into a positive

This reminds us that we can take a situation that seems negative and turn it around. About five or six years ago, Spectrum Health United Hospital sponsored a training session for hospital and community leaders, designed to help us take control of our own message as a community.

“A lot was learned from that training session. Primarily, being educated on media relations helps companies and organizations be prepared should media come to them with a negative story. Often times, these situations can be countered to express truths and provide an opportunity to show case positive changes being made,” said Jen DenOuden, director of communications for Spectrum Health United Hospital. “It’s important that the leaders in our community not be alarmed when approached with negative impressions or stories and, instead, be ready to share the positive things that are occurring in our community that are promoting growth and collaboration.”

Marketing Greenville

It’s been a while since Greenville has had a collective, strategic plan to market ourselves as a community. To that end, the Chamber of Commerce has hosted focus groups to identify our brand, then, and are now working on a community logo, tagline and strategic marketing plan.

“During those focus group sessions, we talked once again about taking control of our own message and putting our best foot forward,” Kerschen said. “What better time than now? We know what Greenville’s strengths are, and it’s time to share that in a consistent manner.”

The “Join in. Speak out.” video contest offers cool prizes for winners in each category (like a Kindle Fire …) and “Join in. Speak out.” T-shirts for the first 20 videos received. You can submit videos on the Chamber’s Facebook page (facebook.com/GreenvilleArea-Chamber).

The entry deadline is May 15.

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