Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

First Impressions Are So Important

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

First Impressions Are So Important

Article excerpt


THEY say that in a job interview the first two minutes are the most important. If you come in demonstrating character, communication skills and a positive attitude, it immediately creates a good impression.

The X-Factor auditions use the same technique. If it's not positive and in tune, the buzzers soon sound. The worlds of marketing and the web make an industry out of grabbing peoples' attention, but if the product doesn't live up to the sales pitch the lasting impression will be negative.

There is, however, something very important about your first impression of a place whether it's a new house, a shop, an office or a whole city. If the initial experience is negative the images are hard to remove from your mental picture and perception of the place.

The coffee stains on the carpet, the smokers' club outside the office door or the grumpy jobsworth do nothing to enhance reputation. For years I had a negative perception of Birmingham because of the smell of diesel on the platform of its grim railway station and the endless dual carriageways and underpasses.

When I visited Liverpool five years ago, the mental picture was of street after street of boarded up houses and litter strewn hedges. My perception of both cities has now been changed.

There are still plenty of boarded up houses in Liverpool, but the first impression this time was of clean, pedestrian streets and their visionary new shopping centre, Liverpool One, where 27 architects have created 36 new shopping palaces and hotels.

From a design perspective it is literally streets ahead of anything else I've seen in the United Kingdom and shopping is reported to be up by over 30% in the city centre. Another first impression in Liverpool was the taxi driver. He didn't know much about their capital of culture, but bristled with pride about how the city had transformed since I was last there with its new conference centre and the great shopping. …

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