Running the NYC Marathon should never have been an option


We’ve written here in the last week about the deserved kudos for the quality leadership of the Northeast’s elected leaders, especially those in the New family, York and Jersey. Among the best was New York City Mike Bloomberg, who also managed to leverage a presidential endorsement into his dire warnings of storm damage.

But Bloomberg, who is first and always a capitalist, let the promised millions derived from the New York City Marathon muddle his values — and his crisis management chops. The marathon should have been cancelled Wednesday or Thursday, at the latest. Was there any doubt after the attacks of 9/11 that the NFL would cancel that Sunday’s and Monday’s games out of respect?

And it should have been the same result, nothing begrudging and pressured, in this case for the mayor and the New York Roadrunners Club, the marathon’s owner. Not only out of respect for those who died in Sandy’s wrath, not only because city resources were needed to continue the recovery, not only because tens of thousands of people from Staten Island to Harlem were blistered and raw, but only because it was the right thing to do.

While economic impact figures are always suspect, there’s no doubt that 50,000 runners, their families and New Yorkers who watch the race, spend hundreds of millions of dollars during the weekend. New York City and State, facing billions in damage from Sandy, surely could use the economic Red Bull. But at what price?

In the end, the mayor and the Roadrunners did the right thing, but it felt like a forced decision; it felt like if there had been just a little less criticism they would have gone for it.

Superior crisis management puts perception first. Could the city have managed to pull off the marathon, and would it have brought in money and raised spirits as a triumph of human perseverance? Of course. But would it have insulted the tens of thousands of residents in the Northeast whose lives were upended and turned into a marathon of survival? Yes.

Bloomberg and the Roadrunners make the right call. They shouldn’t have made it a close call.

The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at http://www.mower.com. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.

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About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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6 Responses to Running the NYC Marathon should never have been an option

  1. Greg Loh says:

    Nice post. You”ve got a hypo in the lead sentence on the state references.

    GREG LOH, APR I MANAGING PARTNER, PUBLIC RELATIONS AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS

    EMA I ERIC MOWER + ASSOCIATES 211 W. Jefferson St., Syracuse, NY 13202 P 315.413.4301 F 315.466.2000 http://www.mower.com gloh@mower.com Follow us on Twitter: @EMATalkHuman @GregLoh Read my blog: DigitallyPoweredPR.com

    ALBANY ATLANTA BUFFALO CHARLOTTE CINCINNATI ROCHESTER SYRACUSE ADVERTISING BRANDING DIGITAL + DIRECT GROUP B2B INSIGHT PR + PA SHOPPER MARKETING #5 ON AD AGES BEST PLACES TO WORK LIST 2012

    Steve

  2. Eric Mower says:

    Steve,

    I’m not sure I agree with you on this: “Superior crisis management puts perception first.” Always?

    Are there not occasions and situations where the best, most appropriate and constructive actions will not necessarily enhance perceptions? Possibly the actions are not popular, but not for the right reasons. Or they will be misunderstood despite the merits.

    Responsible behavior by managers certainly calls for reputation management, but the path of least resistance may lead to something worse down the road.

    Just a thought.

    Eric.

    Eric Mower I Chairman/Chief Executive Officer

    EMA I ERIC MOWER + ASSOCIATES
    211 West Jefferson Street
    Syracuse, New York 13202
    P 315.413.4200 F 315.466.1021
    emower@mower.com mower.com Linkedin

    ALBANY • ATLANTA • BUFFALO • CHARLOTTE • CINCINNATI • ROCHESTER • SYRACUSE

    ADVERTISING • BRANDING • DIGITAL + DIRECT • GROUP B2B • INSIGHT • PR + PA • SHOPPER MARKETING

  3. Greg Loh says:

    Reblogged this on Digitally Powered PR and commented:
    My colleague, Steve Bell, was right in his Sunday, Nov. 4 blog post about the late decision to cancel the New York City Marathon. New York Times coverage on Wednesday shows how the organizers of the marathon are still suffering from their decision making. Steve’s point of view is well worth reblogging here. Read more of Steve’s thoughts on crisis management in the digital age at http://www.SteveonCrisis.Wordpress.com.

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