Geographers have studied the sense of place that is sold to a variety of consumers. Jacqueline Burgess (1982) took a look at environmental images sold to executives in order to make an area more attractive to investment, arguing that these place images mattered. Douglas Fleming and Richard Roth also explored the idea as it was shown in various ads they examined in a 1991 piece.
From these early efforts, a burgeoning literature grew up often rooted in the issues of images and discourse. Their data involved collections of place promotion advertising by railroads and building societies, land speculators, and others interested in selling aspects of place for a variety of reasons (Ward, 1998).
I am working with a recent graduate of OU geography to build a corpus of text and archive of all of Delta’s Sky magazine city profiles to examine how on a particular medium sells places. Sky provides an interesting case study as it is one magazine that in its 2018 Mediakit, claimed to reach nearly 6 million influential readers. It is a professional readership with disposable income for travel and tourism.
Our first efforts take a look at how Southern cities, states and regions are talked about in the text of these profiles. What are Southern places? See the Table below:
|Destination Name||Dates profiled|
|Atlanta, GA||2010, 2013, 2015, 2017|
|Baton Rouge, LA||2014|
|Cocoa Beach, FL||2016|
|Columbia, SC||2015, 2016|
|Mississippi River Delta||2016|
|Palm Beach, FL||2010|
|Roanoke-New River Valley||2014|
Table 1 – List of city profiles in the corpus.
Clearly not all of these are cities per se. Several states are included (FLorida and Mississippi) as well as some regional groupings (Roanoke-New River Valley, Mississippi River Delta) which present different views of how to promote a place.
We will be using Voyant-Tools for visualization of the texts that are southern. Two examples of text visuals can be seen below. Figure 1 is the omnipresent word cloud (Voyant’s developers call this Cirrus). Figure 2 is the trends tool. showing word usage across the city profiles comprising the corpus. Clearly Atlanta is present in the Atlanta profiles (far left three bars) while other terms vary in their importance. We’ll be posting more as this project proceeds. Right now the biggest debate is whether to include the West Virginia profile in the South.
Burgess, Jacqueline (1982) “Selling places: Environmental images for the executive.” Regional Studies, 16 (1) 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1080/09595238200185471
Fleming, Douglas K. and Roth, Richard. (1991) “Place in Advertising.” Geographical Review, Vol. 81, No. 3 (Jul., 1991), pp. 281-291
Ward, Stephen (1998) Selling places : the marketing and promotion of towns and cities, 1850-2000. Routledge: London.