A picture is worth a thousand words

Illustrations can attract or repel us. When marketing products - and in our industry, facilities, destinations and attractions, images are used to draw us in, so we can imagine ourselves in the portrayed setting.

Photos and illustrations are used to generate emotion. We smile at something cute (often a small animal or baby) or cry at something sad (a returning veteran who has lost limbs in the war). Sometimes a newscaster will warn the audience the images they are about to see may offend some or will be too harsh for children to view. Not the words that will be said - the images illustrating a story.

Some ads contain only images; no text. We know the product so well nothing more is needed. When I go to a bookstore (yes, I love reading in print!), I'm drawn to the covers of books sometimes before the title or the author. I'm aware of the changing faces - the greater diversity of faces and bodies - in movies, on television, in print and electronic (including television) ads.

Recently, while thumbing through industry and industry-related publications and viewing websites, I was struck by what I saw: men. And lots of them. In an industry purported to be made up of more women than men, the photos were of men!

I looked at the CMP website to see what would be shown about meeting professionals if one were only seeing photos and illustrations. Here's what I saw. I looked again; it didn't change.

What images illustrate the company or association for whom you work? For your hotel, conference or convention center? Your destination?

Who is shown as representative of the profession or of the members or customers you want to attract? Is there diversity of gender, race, age and ethnicity? Are people with disabilities shown able to move about the city or facility or attending your meetings? What draws people to or repels them away from what you are marketing? Is there consistency in what is done?

In this photo from the announcement of a revived initiative for the industry, who is shown as representing us and is it accurate of who works in the industry? If a picture is worth a thousand words, why then are the pictures different than what is and what is said?

By the way, I have heard that saying all my life and never knew who said it. Evidently, no one else is certain of the author of these words either!

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