Marketing the Mayor

I’m worried about you, Mayor Bloomberg. Your popularity is fading fast—two-thirds of New Yorkers are against you, judging from a recent poll. I’d like, if I may, to suggest a marketing-communications strategy to turn the tide—if not for your sake, for the sake of your company, Bloomberg LP.

My concerns are many. For example, I couldn’t believe you got doused with water as you stood outside that Brooklyn building two weeks ago. That was totally uncalled for. Did you think there were a pack of rogues on the roof who had it in for you, upset by your education reforms, your transit-fare hikes, your perceived lack of sympathy for the families of 9/11 victims? People are saying you need sensitivity training. Not true. You need a good PR specialist. I’m no expert, but I’d like to help.

Opening that city swimming pool for the start of summer? Great work. You can’t buy that kind of press. But then, the week after your big plunge, a bunch of rowdy young men allegedly groped a group of girls in that very pool. Maybe you could avoid unfortunate coincidences like that by splashing around in a bigger pool. A cannonball into the East River? Jackknife into the Hudson? Doggie-paddle in the Central Park reservoir?

And what about all the graffiti? I live near your 79th Street home, and those gang drawings are totally off-putting. Your Anti-Graffiti Task Force is a good start, since many people feel grafitti is a sign of crime on the rise. I have a theory that unemployed ad types are the ones doing the scribbling (“I can’t afford my damn time- share in the Hamptons this summer”), but that’s another conversation. Really, graffiti hasn’t been this bad in the city since the ’70s, when you were smoking, what, two or three packs a day and a little reefer on the side?

Speaking of which, people are just not respecting your smoking ban. I’ve smoked to my lungs’ content in many bars and restaurants —and in cabs, as well. The other day, I enjoyed a cigarette and a cold one on my ride home from work. What worries me, PR-wise, is that if some business owners are suffering while others are flaunting the ban, you could be accused of some twisted form of schadenfreude with these silly laws. My unbiased advice is to reverse course on this one. Your excuse could be that obesity causes health problems, too, and if you’re going to ban cigarettes, you’ll have to take aim at every cupcake, Twinkie and cannoli in the city as well. Admit you were wrong. A little humility goes a long way.

What I’m getting at is this: Are you considering the effect these missteps may be having on Bloomberg LP? While you toil for that $1 salary as mayor (an admirable gesture, by the way—even lazy journalists earn more than that), your old firm could be benefiting tremendously from the free media you get. But unless you hire some better PR guys, these gaffes, water dumpings, petty laws, etc., are going to hurt the company.

You need to protect your business interests in the name of serving the people. We understand that. That’s why you—no, we, Mr. Mayor—need to keep the city strong. Come to think of it, Bloomberg LP might be able to help. It’s under fire, too—charged with patent infringement by its main competitor, Reuters. Maybe they could point you to some damage-control experts.

Or maybe this whole mayoral thing is too much of a hassle. Wouldn’t you be a lot happier if Bloomberg LP had control over the world’s financial markets and their information outlets? Maybe you need to hand the keys to the city over to a real billionaire politician, someone like Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi. He’s hilarious and effective.

Mr. Mayor, you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time. But you can’t fool all of the people all of the time—unless you have a sound marcom strategy and a healthy bottom line.

P.S.: Hey, maybe the two of us can shoot a round at the Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda this weekend. We’ve got lots to discuss, like my fee: 10 percent of your mayoral salary, or 10 cents.