No, not necessarily, but I would be surprised if communications directors weren’t shaking their heads and the tourism industries weren’t crying. I was shocked to be skimming through Section A in the Wall Street Journal yesterday to find Mayor Nutter’s face plastered in the center of the article, “Crime Hasn’t Dropped as Much As Our Interest in Talking About It.” In summary, the article was about the lack of media attention that local crime has been getting recently.
Yes, I am aware, as all Philadelphia residents are, that crime has skyrocketed in Philadelphia recently. Four police officers have been killed since the beginning of the year. It is public knowledge that Philadelphia is not the safest place in the country right now, and the WSJ has every right to write about it. But, on that note, does our mayor, someone who cares about bringing people and their money into Philadelphia, have to comment on the crime by making a joke about how “al Qaeda wouldn’t last a day in parts of Philadelphia.” He goes on to say, “I’ve got gangsters with .45s that would run them outta town.”
Yes, we have “gangsters with .45s” here, as do many other cities, but that doesn’t mean that we want our mayor making a joke about it in a publication who has a print circulation of 1,717,363 in the United States. If you were deciding where to take a vacation and read about the “gangsters” in Philadelphia that are bad enough to run al Qaeda out of town, would you want to spend your week off hoping to come home alive? I doubt it.
As a public relations professional, it is important to make sure the public knows that the crime problem exists, but it is also important to stress the great things that Philadelphia has to offer. Looking from a PR perspective, I believe Mayor Nutter and Philadelphia would have benefited more by commenting on the crime problems that the city faces and how a greater national spotlight on local crime could be beneficial in the fight against it.
But hey, maybe that’s just me. Thoughts?