BASSSETERRE, St. Kitts -- THERE comes a time in everyone’s life, when we can say “I got this”. Young athletes who turn pro. Young musicians that wake up to realize they have avid fans. Young leaders who find themselves ‘electable’. There comes a day when the early years of self development fade away, and what’s left? Expertise. Consistency. Mastery. When we have the confidence to say, ’we got this!’
Perhaps the greatest challenge we face within the Federation, is the ability to elevate one another — to trust and have confidence in one another. Where our neighbours success, becomes our own inner satisfaction. When a teacher takes pride in a former student excelling in life. When a Pastor silently witnesses a young woman make the right moral choice, and begins to rejoice from within…
So how do we begin to elevate one another when it comes to Nation Building? Why do we ‘feel’ that using outside companies and consultants are always the obvious first choice? Let’s take tourism as an example.
When it comes to attracting tourists and foreign investors, we select foreign marketing and PR agencies to come up with creative campaigns, produce creative print and video ads, and to manage placement of media (advertising). When it comes to PR, we select a foreign agency to place and/or track publicity that promotes SKN. Why do we just assume these foreign agencies can do a better job? Who better to tell OUR story, than you or I? After all, our unique experiences must be lived in order to share!
USA and UK advertising executives understand that once an island nation client is obtained, billings follow — for years. But here is an interesting thought… these same agencies have mastered ‘sun, sea, and sand’ promotions. But, have you noticed that it’s difficult to distinguish one Caribbean destination campaign from another? A man and women, dressed in white linen clothing, holding hands in romantic and intimate poses, walking down a beach. Familiar?
Now, multiply this times 31 Caribbean destinations. Precisely, how is the value and ROI being measured?
Nation Building means building capacity, developing expertise — from within. If we can manufacture a product economically locally, why purchase it abroad? Now, who exactly should be considered first when an opportunity arises? 1. Local competent talent. 2. Returning foreign nationals who have acquired requisit skills and perspective in other markets. 3. Foreigners who have requisite skills that reside in the Federation. In each case, the revenue earned, stays in our economy. The jobs created, are jobs that feed SKN families.
Getting back to our tourism product… the reality is that most advertising agencies are like the job applicant claiming to have ’20 years of experience’. Said the interviewer, “You have 20 years of experience? Or, do you have one year of experience, 20 times.”
You see, the images of a white couple prancing down a white sandy beach is NOT what differentiates our island from all the others. Truth? Visitors decide where to vacation where they can best experience culture — people, places, and connectivity they don’t have in the course of their routine daily lives. Images that show our unique architecture and habitat, images of white people connecting with locals in fascinating natural settings — this carries greater impact and persuasion, above the cookie cutter Caribbean advertising campaigns peddled by outside agencies. People are looking for unique experiences and adventure, even when planning their wedding.
Consider why there is such an appetite from Americans to visit Cuba? Is it Cuba’s sun, sea, and sand?
Let’s begin to use local writers, local artisans, local chefs, local photographers, local digital designers, and local expats who understand what it's like to live the St. Kitts and Nevis life — these locals represent our best storytellers and marketers. Let’s use local agencies to develop and manage our creative campaigns that can be expertly produced near real-time -- and done at a fraction of the cost. You see, ‘we got this!’
Let us take the time to critically look at where our dollars are being spent. Let us look to our own for opportunity and advancement.
The Youtube video best expresses the need to say, “we got this”. Self confidence in our human capital is needed to elevate our beloved St. Kitts and Nevis. No outside person can share the ethos and value that comes from living a life on St. Kitts and Nevis better than you and I.
The true wealth of our nation, lives in our own backyard. This short video best conveys this beautiful reality.