Charlie commented that “this kind of PR is often unavoidable.” I disagree.
Here are the money quotes from the article:
David Onorato, executive director of the Parking Authority, said that Franklin’s business wasn’t the only one being fined.”When she said, during that time frame, that we were picking on her, there’s been over 700 tickets issued on that street in that neighborhood, and all the other businesses are surviving down there,” said Onorato.
Wiggin (reporter) reported that other businesses are also complaining, including a restaurant owner right next door to ‘Big Mama’. “I actually have an envelope, right now, on my table ready to go in for $94.50 from three days ago,” said Fernando DeCarvalho.
Onorato told Wiggin that if they didn’t enforce it, there would be people parking for free all day while they were at work. Then, the businesses would complain that there was no room for their customers to park.
Gee – what are we saying here. I guess it’s that it’s OK that Big Mama is out of business, since, after all, we are down there writing tickets every day and boy, if we weren’t think how bad things would be. And of course, the businesses are a bunch of whiners. We have to be careful, reporters will, damn them, actually print what we say.
I might have suggested a different approach with the press. How about something less defensive. “Our department understands the concerns that merchants have with parking and enforcement. We have met a number of times with business groups in that part of town and worked with them on a possible solution to all the delivery and parking issues in the area. On their recommendation, we have come up with a policy that will help alleviate the parking problem, reduce the number of citations, and help the businesses.”
Of course, a parking department would have had to have done that. My guess is that if it had, the article about Big Mama might have been quite a bit different. I’ll bet that she is not even trying to follow the rules and feels victimized. A quote from one of her neighbors telling the newspaper that would have stopped the story dead. Of course, the neighbor has to feel warm and cuddles toward the parking department. Parking department managers need to be on the street daily, talking to people, solving problems, and being their own PR agencies.