On the public-relations side of things, Dallas lacks “buzz” these days. Our political leaders won’t come right out and say that, but would you really expect them to?
Our convention business has stopped growing, even as we’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars in a hopeless effort to keep up with cities such as Las Vegas, Atlanta, Chicago and New York, which frankly have a lot more to offer.
A recent survey of our police officers shows that years of petty political bickering and poor management decisions have taken a toll: Too many officers say they don’t like their jobs, they don’t like their managers and they aren’t being paid enough. Other than that, though, they’re pretty excited about risking their lives to protect the rest of us.
There’s more: I don’t know about your neighborhood, but mine doesn’t seem to be benefiting much from the laser-beam attention our mayor promised to focus on streets and services during her two election campaigns.
So to solve these problems, here’s what I understand our political leaders are planning to do: We’ve hired a marketing company to come up with a slogan to tell everyone how great Dallas is. We’re pulling our every political favor we’re owed to beg for money to build a $130 million bridge that will really make our skyline pretty. Somehow, we’re going to find the money to subsidize a rich guy’s dream of a new sports complex, even though he can afford to leverage his own fortune and build it himself.
With leadership priorities like these, is it any wonder our “buzz” isn’t buzzing?
Meanwhile, the rest of us seem to be doing pretty well here in our neighborhoods. Our home values are steadily climbing. The fact we’re becoming more involved in projects that matter – helping maintain city parks, organizing crime watch groups, volunteering at neighborhood schools and the like – shows most of us still believe in the “emerald city” our mayor says she no longer sees in Dallas.
That’s because most of us believe something our political leaders can’t seem to see: Dallas is comprised of neighborhoods, and neighborhoods are our city’s strength.
Maybe that’s not a sexy thing to sell as part of a nationwide branding campaign, but the days of selling Dallas as a magical Shangri-La of Cowboy chic are over. Instead, we need to blow off the marketing and simply make Dallas a good place to live, work and learn. The “buzz” from that accomplishment will be the “good news” we sell others.
In the long run, success isn’t about marketing. It’s about the truth.