Robert Govers

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Robert Govers

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in The Hague, Netherlands
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March 2013


Robert Govers is the author of IMAGINATIVE COMMUNITIES: Admired cities, regions and countries. Since 2009 Robert has co-edited and authored four books on the topic of community reputation with Palgrave Macmillan publishers. IMAGINATIVE COMMUNITIES is his first book published under his own imprint. He has also co-authored over 50 journal articles, book chapters and conference papers and has delivered numerous public speeches and business publications. In addition, he is co-editor of the quarterly journal, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy.

Robert Govers is an independent international adviser, scholar, speaker and author on the reputation of cities, regions and countries and is chairman of the International Place Branding Association. He ha
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Robert Govers That is quite a funny anecdote, actually. Believe it or not, but it was Frank Underwood, POTUS in House of Cards, who triggered me to write this book;…moreThat is quite a funny anecdote, actually. Believe it or not, but it was Frank Underwood, POTUS in House of Cards, who triggered me to write this book; quite literally. In episode 8 of season 3, Underwood defends daring new policy that he invented. He explains to the bystander behind the camera – i.e. us, the audience, in the way that is so typical for this Netflix series – that in order to attract attention leaders need to come up with imaginative initiatives. They need to do things in an original, extraordinary, inventive and captivating manner. It is not so easy to do that, Underwood explains. He tells us that ‘imagination is its own form of courage’.

To venture into unchartered territory, which – by definition – is what imaginative initiatives are about, requires real courage. Underwood also explains that policy makers usually prefer to do things that are tried and tested and easy to defend with common sense, but he then intimates to the audience that “there is only one problem with common sense… it is so common”.

Underwood made me see that this is one of the key issues with managing city/country image. I have argued many times before that reputation is built on action and not advertising and to stand out is to do something extraordinary. However, policy makers are often risk averse, because of pressures from the opposition or public opinion and the motivation to cling onto power and not stick their neck out too much.

Hence it should not really surprise us that very few communities have been able to launch truly imaginative initiatives that have changed the way in which they are perceived internationally. Such examples are few and far between, but I describe some of them in the book. Yet, from a policy making perspective, to do imaginative things in line with long term strategy in order to build a consistent positioning is even harder.

I have been very frustrated with the lack of recognition of the complexity of this field of “community reputation management”. It is too easily and too often pushed into the marketing domain, which is counterproductive.

Without senior government support and courage; recognition of the need to see this as a perspective to policy making more than anything else; as an overarching task; requiring collaboration between government departments, private sector and civil society; and a long term commitment; there is no hope in hell of ever cliches and stereotypes.

I wrote Imaginative Communities in the hope of moving this specialist field into the mainstream. To convince policy makers, civil leaders and decision makers generally that community reputation management is a serious challenge and requires everyone’s attention.

I wrote a completely jargon-free book in easy-to-read language using only 35,000 words (150 pages) in order to provide bed-time reading; digestible because of lots of examples, cases and little theory.(less)
Average rating: 4.2 · 25 ratings · 6 reviews · 7 distinct worksSimilar authors
Imaginative Communities: Ad...

4.36 avg rating — 14 ratings7 editions
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Place Branding: Glocal, Vir...

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3.75 avg rating — 8 ratings — published 2009 — 6 editions
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International Place Brandin...

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4.50 avg rating — 2 ratings — published 2012 — 3 editions
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International Place Brandin...

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it was amazing 5.00 avg rating — 1 rating — published 2011 — 2 editions
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Imaginative Communities: Ci...

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Imaginative Communities: Ci...

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Same Book, New Blurb & Cover

Imaginative Communities, the 2018 book, was given a new post-covid 2022 cover, thanks to Arjen IJff (www.arjenijff.nl).

With the new cover came a new backflap blurb:

Americans are loud. Amsterdam equals sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Mexicans are lazy and Germans are boring, but punctual. Paris is romantic, Wuhan infectious, Ukrainians heroic, and New Zealand untouched.

This is the way people around

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Published on June 15, 2022 01:44

Robert’s Recent Updates

Robert Govers wrote a new blog post

??? is the Time to Rethink our Communities


This article was first published on

City Nation Place

, May 7, 2020.
The novel Coronavirus has clearly shown us how vulnerable globalisation has ma Read more of this blog post »
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