Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What a Piece of Boatwerk

Lots of hulllaballoo about the closing of the Boatwerks Restaurant in Holland. The owner is at odds with city leaders over approvals for the eatery that has been open since last year. There are disagreements about compliance with the original site plan for the facility on the water. The owner closed his own restaurant and blamed Holland city officials.

City leaders consider this a 'publicity stunt,' according to an article in the Grand Rapids Press. In Holland Sentinel reportage, city leaders describe themselves as confused by the owners actions.

Here's the thing. It may have seemed like a good idea to Boatwerks owner Joe Walsh to move his previously private discussions with Holland into the public forum. After all, city leaders are elected and accountable to the public, and public sentiment about a popular new eatery being closed--and many employees laid off--could leverage the city to give approvals that have not been coming.

However, be careful of asking for the media spotlight. City leaders responded, and looked like they were doing their jobs and enforcing the site plan. That actually IS accountable to citizens. The public opinion and sentiment may actually make Walsh look a bit silly to Holland residents. He also is damaging his relationship (the essence of PR) with city leaders in the long-term.

Moving your dialogue to the public media might be a good idea if you're certain public opinion will support you and your cause is just. But it could also expose your weaknesses and reveal your move as indeed a "stunt" without substance.

Meanwhile, you can see video of the press conference with Holland city leaders on the Sentinel web site. It's always interesting to watch and learn from others' press conferences. Meanwhile, isn't it interesting to live in an era when newspapers are offering video?


Craig Rich said...

So, How'd I do? ;-)

Craig Rich
Mayor protem, Holland

Tim Penning, APR said...

After a bit of fumbling about the mayor's vacation itinerary, you didn't do bad. You made some valid, factual points that enlightened the media and public on this issue. Best to be factual than reactionary or accusatory.

Is this easier or harder than selling newspaper advertising? :)

Anonymous said...

Lets just say I don't plan to quit my day job very soon! Thanks for your honest appraisal of the Boatwerks situation.

Craig Rich