Friday, June 20, 2008

Slap and Hug and Shock and Awe

I have to admit I was puzzled to read about the City of GR's new parking policy that allows people to trade in paid parking tickets and receive a coupon for $15 in free parking. Huh? Why not just not give the ticket, or lower the ticket by the amount of free parking. Or, here's a thought, find ways to offer more parking.

The city's parking director characterized the ticket/coupon gimmick as a "slap and hug." Well, golly, there's an incentive. If PR is about relationships, I'm pretty sure this is an abusive one. I don't even need my social worker wife to tell me that.

Is such a deal really going to generate good will? If someone comes to GR and gets a ticket, they are more likely to not come back than to cash in the ticket for free parking. I dunno, maybe if certain people are regulars to downtown GR they might see it as a friendly gesture on the part of the city. But parking--lack of it, fees for it, time limits on it-- is a key deterrent for many visitors to big cities. People are drawn to places where they can shop, eat, attend events and otherwise recreate without the stress of parking. More effective than the coupons would be promotion of the fact that parking rates are lower, time limits are longer, more parking is available etc

I think Yogi Berra had an insight on this: "that place is so crowded no one goes there anymore." Yeah, people still go to GR. But more might if they could do so without fear of meter maids.

As for me, I think parking is like sex: shame on anyone who asks to be paid for it.

1 comment:

Mike said...

I thought the same thing. If people get sour milk at your store, giving them two more gallons free isn't going to eliminate that bad taste.

Any PR practitioner (or person with common sense, for that matter) knows that you're far better off trying to give your audience a good experience in the first place than having to make up for a bad one!