Thursday, July 12, 2007

A PR Failure 

As many readers know, the mayor of New York City has proposed a tariff for vehicles during the day to lower congestion on Manhattan Island. The plan is nearly identical to the one London put in to achieve the same effect. It is a plan that economists say makes sense. It generates revenue for maintenance and other transportation projects. There is plenty that is good about the plan except for one small item. It is dead on arrival in the state capital, Albany. There, legislators have run away from the plan and there is no mystery why. Drivers are howling.

So, the mayor is touting the plan as a rational solution to a chronic problem -- a good PR approach. The legislators, however, were hearing directly from citizens -- a fundamental public relations task. In the resulting collision, citizen drivers won.

What is the mayor going to do now? The legislature is going to throw him a sop -- a committee to study the problem. In political terms, that is a death sentence, but from a publicity point of view, it sounds good. The mayor says he will go do Albany to negotiate a deal. It's hard to think what a deal might be.

The mayor's idea was good, if not original, but it is a PR failure. As PR practitioners know, rational approaches are not always the answer.


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