I believe if you want to control your brand and the way people view you, you need to take an active part in the conversation happening about you. Although my homeland is generally known for its tranquility and friendly inhabitants, a few months ago, two isolated occurrences gave Grenada some negative press on the international scene, particularly in the U.S. and Canada. Two foreigners lost their lives by the hands of two individuals who in no way represent the true fabric of the Grenadian people. I clearly remember first hearing about the incident while sitting on my couch watching the news in Toronto. Shortly after coming across the unfortunate information, I went online to investigate the negative events, and I read a host of unsavory opinions about the country where I was born and grew up.
What bothered me most was that people were making statements that were totally misleading. For instance, one guy stated that while in Grenada, he was attacked by "rebels" and had to be escorted to safety by the "army". Honestly, I have no idea which country he was in. However, I am fully convinced it wasn't Grenada because we definitely do not have any rebel groups nor do we have an army in the true sense of the word. Another person, one of Grenadian decent, indicated that he prefers to remain in Brooklyn than to go back to Grenada. I was like, are you serious? Are you comparing Brooklyn, where people get shot, to peaceful Grenada? After reading a few more, I realized that people have a lot of misconceptions about Grenada. I then wondered; what if there was a way Grenadians at home and those living in the diaspora could give insight into the real character and lifestyle of the typical Grenadian? What if there was a way for Grenadians to tell their stories online to help shape the conversation about the country they call home? What if there was a way for the rest of the world to see Grenada through the eyes of everyday Grenadians? So as a One Young World Ambassador representing Grenada, I decided to challenge myself.
Fortunately, my questions were answered with the help of two fellow Grenadians in relatively quick time. One of my friends, Trisha Mitchell, contacted me with a project to get Grenadians to tell their stories online. We discussed the wonderful concept then immediately reached out to Lovell Felix. Within months, the fruits of our labor materialized in the form of the launch of the #IamGrenadian Movement. The general idea behind our hard work was to let the rest of the world see, understand, and experience Grenada through the eyes of everyday Grenadians. First, we created the #IamGrenadian web platform where Grenadians can sign up and write articles about their experiences, our culture, situations affecting them, ways and means to improve the Grenadian society, as well as share their points of view on world issues. We also launched a story campaign which tells the personal stories of everyday Grenadians on the #IamGrenadian Facebook Page. So far, the anecdotes have highlighted local entrepreneurs, public servants, successful sportsmen and women, survivors of various forms of abuse as well as other patriotic Grenadians living in the diaspora.
As unfair as it might seem, your brand hinges on what others say about you and not necessarily what you say about yourself. However, you can help manage your brand by shaping people's perspectives simply by ensuring that positive qualities significantly outweigh any shred of undesirable characteristics that might be present. Often times, the media in the bigger nations that look from the outside tend to paint misleading pictures about smaller territories. Therefore, I believe that every country, especially those in the Caribbean, need to find a way to tell their story themselves. Mind you, I am not saying that Grenada has never had any positive international exposure. For instance, our sole Olympic gold medalist Kirani James, Victoria Cross recipient Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, ICC T20 World Cup Champions Afy Fletcher and Andre Fletcher, former double IAAF World Indoor 400m Champion Alleyne Francique, and many others have put Grenada on the world map, and because of their achievements, the country has had some positive publicity. However, it is important for people to really see and experience Grenada, the beautiful Spice Isle of the Caribbean, and its warm, friendly, humble, and peaceful people in their true state which are through the eyes of loyal Grenadians.