New Haven, Connecticut Has a ‘Perception Study Task Force’

new havenToday we learned, via Jim Romenesko, that the city of New Haven, Connecticut (home of Yale University) has created its own “perception task force” created to “plant feel-good stories in the media” and downplay area crime problems.

From the original story in the New Haven Independent:

“The task force meets approximately once a month to discuss the results of studies about what people think about downtown New Haven…The task force is new; the studies are not.”

The issue is that local news just keeps running crime stories, despite the fact that Mayor Toni Harp recently held a press conference to announce decreases in crime from 2011-2014. So the task force aims to “develop a stable of positive City focused stories to funnel to media to discourage” all that sensationalism.

But isn’t the work of securing media placements and improving reputations better suited for a public relations firm than the mayor’s press office?

Yes — and New Haven “chose Sandy Hillman Communications, a Baltimore-based public relations and marketing company,” in 1999. On Hillman’s advice, the city created a group to market itself (the firm has not represented New Haven since 2000).

We’re not familiar with the city, but based on the results of this Independent reader poll, we feel like New Haven might want to try a little harder to change public perception.

new haven