NEW YORK: A town hall meeting of nearly 4,500 New Yorkers at the Jacob Javits Convention Center last Saturday gave the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation a much-needed reversal of caustic media coverage and public disapproval of the Lower Manhattan rebuilding process.
Dubbed "Listening to the City, the event presented PR agency CooperKatz & Company with the challenge of coordinating dozens of stakeholder organizations (all members of the Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York), and meeting their expectations.
The alliance's goals of getting public input from a diverse and representative group of people and enhancing the public dialogue were accomplished, according to Arthur Fried, director of the Center for Excellence in New York City Governance at NYU's Wagner School.
Steve Rubel, CooperKatz client services manager, said, "We aimed to register 5,000 people that are a true microcosm of New York's demographics, and we wanted people to know that they will be heard at the event. To that end, giant screens projected synopses of the suggestions from the 500 tables, resulting in nearly 80% of the initially skeptical crowd expressing confidence that rebuilding officials will take the hearing into account.
"From this week's coverage, it was evident that officials were listening to the city and revising their plans, said Rubel. But the event was successful mainly because each media rep received individual attention, he added.
Before the meeting, Cooper-Katz distributed Needs Assessment forms to all journalists, and fulfilled them on a one-on-one basis. At the event, each media crew also had an access team member shadowing them. "The secret of our success was service, service, service, Rubel said.
Listening to the City got more than 400 broadcast mentions on Saturday alone, including live coverage from CNN and MSNBC, and glowing editorials from the New York Daily News' Pete Hamill and The New York Times editorial board.