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Opinion

Flat caps and whippets – does the north have an image problem?

There’s been lots of media attention given to the recent Government announcements on ways to encourage more investment in the regions outside of London. As a B2B tech agency, based up north, we’re delighted that the government’s TechNorth initiative brings a focus to our region.

Coverage on the announcements has been positive. As you can imagine local media has focused on what the investment could mean to the region, while national coverage has tended to focus on the Scottish independence issue as a catalyst for more investment outside of London.

So when flicking through national IT channel publication Computer Reseller News (CRN) this morning, I wasn’t particularly surprised to see a feature on TechNorth. The article was balanced and ineformative, but that wasn’t what I noticed first. It was the images that the magazine had used to highlight the story. Along with a photo of Nick Clegg who is liberally quoted was an image of an old-fashioned steam train chugging along and a picture of a pigeon.

Is this really what CRN thinks of the north? And more worryingly, is this what the south thinks of the north – where the pace of life is slow and old-fashioned, and everyone keeps racing pigeons? OK so I am taking a bit of a liberty. The photo of the pigeon is probably a reference to a point in the article about slow broadband connections in South Yorkshire where a pigeon could fly quicker between two offices than the time it takes to send 32Gb of data (note: Manchester has some of the fastest broadband speeds in the country) but the steam train I can’t find reference to at all. There is a single reference to HS2 but it’s not making a point.

Despite its fast-growing digital media industry and its creative hubs, the north still appears to have an image problem. Or is it that the south is still so blinkered that it can’t envisage any other image to portray the north? Oh, and is it a good time to mention that I’m a southerner…

Claire Lamb is a consultant at Skout. She’s worked in technology PR for 20 years and has survived more bubbles than Michael Jackson.

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