Does Detroit Need PR More Than Ever?

The housing market? Dead. The automobile market? Bailed out. More than 680,000 resident? And dropping fast. The mayor? In prison. The planet’s most popular rapper from this place? Off the market (again). The city? Legally bankrupt.

This is your Detroit, America, and it is about to close shop and file Chapter 9 protection, becoming the largest U.S. city to accomplish such a feat. Bravo?

Thanks to Judge Steven W. Rhodes, Detroit has been ruled insolvent — broke as hell, in layman’s terms — because the 18th largest U.S. city can’t pay its debts, as in an ironic $18 billion. Public pensions will be reduced. Some debt will be paid off … eventually. Essential city services will be restored to (and this is a quote from the Judge) “tolerable.”

That’s the hope and prayer that has befallen this once great city. Question: Is this a job for PR?

If you troll the Internet and search for “PR + Detroit,” sure you will find the news stories. However, beneath those stories you will find not much about the industry, or firms representing the industry for that matter. I have reached out to PRSA Detroit, so hopefully, we will get better insight because this industry needs it.

Can you imagine an America without Motown, the Detroit sports teams (e.g., Red Wings, Tigers, Pistons and Lions), Pallister Avenue (no cars allowed, it’s greatness) and even the North American International Auto Show? If you still aren’t moved about Detroit’s dismal existence, there used to be 2.2 million people here, only a third of its ambulances function, and its Police Department closes less than nine percent of cases. If this bad press keeps on, that sound you hear will be the padlock slamming shut on the city border.

“This once proud and prosperous city can’t pay its debts,” said the judge, who sits in United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. “It’s insolvent. It’s eligible for bankruptcy. But it also has an opportunity for a fresh start.”

And that “fresh start” is where a miraculous campaign could take place. Where’s the goodwill? Where’s the comeback? Where’s the rising from the ashes? Katrina did it. Superstorm Sandi is getting it. Detroit needs it. Badly. So, what flack and firm is going to take that torch? Sure, they probably won’t get paid but think of the case study, bragging rights and the hope created for a city that used to be so great.

PR, where’s the underdog mentality getting off the mat to smack the crap out of Apollo Creed? Chrysler thought they had one with all the hubbub the aforementioned Eminem caused during a couple of Super Bowls ago. Perhaps PRSA Detroit needs to watch this for inspiration. Hopefully, we will hear more about this big question later in the week. And hopefully Eminem was right by saying, “This is the Motor City, and this is what we do.”

Do it, Detroit PR. We’ll be waiting.



Publish date: December 4, 2013 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT