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Changing Perceptions: How Visit Omaha Uses Visuals to Promote Diversity and Inclusion

Whenever Jasmyn Goodwin is traveling and is asked where she’s from, she often faces the same, awkward question, often in the same, surprised tone: “There are black people in Omaha?”  

While the state of Nebraska is over 88% white, according to the United States Census Bureau, that number drops to about 67% in its most populous city. Though more than 12% of the city is of African American descent, Goodwin—who serves as the Director of Marketing and Content for Visit Omaha—still gets that same question just about everywhere she travels. 

“It's a jarring question to be asked, but we also see that perception in social media,” she says. 

User-generated content helps to promote the diversity of Omaha

Goodwin, along with her team at Visit Omaha, are determined to change that perception and ensure that everyone feels welcome in their city. Over the last year or so they’ve made a concerted effort to ensure all of their visual content is representative of the diversity of the local population. 

The initiative extends throughout the organization’s marketing campaigns, including all photo and video production, but Goodwin believes the message is far more powerful when coming from locals and travelers directly. 

“UGC [user-generated content] gives us an opportunity to showcase diversity in an authentic way,” she says. 

“I can say until I’m blue in the face, 'Omaha is diverse, we have diversity here,' and I can do exactly what I'm doing — making sure it’s in my videos and my photography — but nothing speaks louder than authentic photos and videos from people who are actually out in the streets.” 

Telling the story of Omaha with CrowdRiff

CrowdRiff has thus far helped Visit Omaha establish itself as a must-visit city for foodies and perhaps the best farm-to-fork destination in America. It has also helped the city become recognized as a top destination for beer lovers, and helped bring a bridge named “Bob” to life

Now, the destination marketing organization finds the platform to be just as helpful in changing the perception of a diverse city in the American heartland.

The gallery on Visit Omaha's homepage features a wide variety of authentic, diverse visuals.

“When we first signed up with CrowdRiff and saw what it was capable of, it just sort of became something we use for whatever campaign we're doing; it becomes this supplement to any initiative or project we're working on,” says Goodwin. 

Using CrowdRiff to find high-quality, inclusive content 

Goodwin adds that CrowdRiff provides her team with so much high-quality user-generated content that finding strong imagery that also showcases diversity is just a matter of scrolling through the content.

“CrowdRiff pulls in a ton of content for us—we get so much—so we have a lot to choose from,” she says.

Goodwin adds that she enjoys spending time sifting through all the available content alongside her Social Media Manager and Graphic Designer. 

“It’s great for the creative juices; it gets everything flowing when you can see your city from different perspectives,” she says. “You can also find these gems, these great photos and videos that you can use that make your life so much easier and really showcase your city in an authentic way.” 

Continuing to expand their efforts with new types of content

Though it’s too early to see a significant change in perception, Goodwin says she’s proud of Visit Omaha and what her team has been able to accomplish thus far. 

"I'm proud of the fact that we've changed the look and feel of our promotional pieces to reflect the city's diversity," she says. "It does so more now than it ever has before, and CrowdRiff just keeps giving us more content to promote that.” 

Moving forward, Goodwin says she’s excited to expand Visit Omaha’s diversity and inclusion efforts into new areas and content formats. 

Goodwin adds that she’ll know she’s done her job once she stops having to answer that awkward but unfortunately common question she can’t seem to avoid when she leaves the state.