TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: It's a tale of apples and oranges asCalifornia seeks PR salvation in NY

The public image of California has begun to resemble the battered

body of a punch-drunk boxer - the result of too many blows to the face

and mid-section from the power crisis and dot-com bust. Not to mention

the continual roundhouses of traffic jams and drive-by shootings, and

the ever-threatening uppercuts of earthquakes, bogus weight-loss schemes

and hordes of Tae-Bo practitioners running amok at LA gymnasia.

Clearly, a little plastic surgery is needed on the scarred face of the

Golden State. Or so says the California Association of Local Economic

Development (CALED). As previously noted in this publication, it has

hired a PR agency to tell out-of-state companies they can operate here

without worrying about the lights going out or being approached for

spare change by unemployed Web site developers. (I knew it was all a big


But here's the rub: the agency CALED hired to convince people to do

business in California is not in California. It's in New York. Land of

tall buildings, incoherent cab drivers and frightening humans such as

Lizzie Grubman.

Rob De Rocker, an executive at this newly hired agency, Development

Counselors International (DCI), told me the 41-year-old firm specializes

in community economic development and has prior relationships with CALED

members. Good point. Certainly, DCI has an outstanding track record in

this field.

But why should a businessman from Boston believe in California

competence when CALED turns to the Big Apple to lure folks to the Big


My cynical side suspects the organization is lusting after vacation


Members will travel to cities like Chicago, Washington, DC and, of

course, New York ("may as well look in on our PR agency, eh boys?") to

pitch journalists and corporate suits on the wonders of our

nation-state. But I can't actually allege that, because it would be

mean, and, as part of this new PR campaign, everyone in California has

to be nice.

Why didn't CALED just ask me to throw something together? I have lots of

ideas, and wouldn't even charge them the $150,000 fee that DCI is


The PR slogan they've come up with is "The Power of California." Not

bad, but I don't think it fully captures our California essence. Here

are my ideas:

"California: The Power Is Usually On." "California: Five Million Illegal

Immigrants Can't Be Wrong." "Californication: Does Jersey Really Turn

You on Like We Do?" "Disneylandia: We're Not So Mickey Mouse As You

Think We Are." Or how 'bout this gem: "The Golden State: Midas Well Give

Us A Try."

I think its only fair that New York gives California a ring when its

time to promote a Statue of Liberty anniversary or a celebration of the

exquisite beauty of the Holland Tunnel. I already have some thoughts,

but I'm gonna need lots of sand and Pamela Anderson.

Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and


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