Monday, May 14, 2012

Its all about Selling...

Crime Train, Portland Creep, Empty Buses, 19th Century Technology, Anti-Car and so. For anyone who is an advocate of proper urban planning or effective transportation choices are well familiar with slogans like these, they are well used by opponents to paint a disparaging picture of transportation choices and planning.

The problem is these well financed campaigns are designed to one thing, to turn public point of view to their way of thinking. Some do it for the money while others do it for their ideology. The problem is that the other side is doing a heck of a good job of marketing their point of view and advocates of transportation and planning choices seem to fail.

Motivational Speaker Zig Ziglar has a saying that everything involves selling and that everyone is a salesperson whether they think that their job involves it or not. Advocates need to realize that they too need to work on their sales presentations whether it is to a city council, newspaper, blog or any other forum that they may find themselves talking to others.

Right now here in the Portland suburbs of Clackamas County their is a heated battle for county commissioners. Radio ads and billboards are being bought proclaiming that three candidates will stop "Portland Creep". They are using this term to demonize urban planning and transportation in the Portland area saying that the goal is to ruin the little perfection called Clackamas county. Now a large segment of Clackamas County is rural and the thought of additional density is to them is worse than

Smart Growth Opponants Run Against Portland's Pro-Urbanism Policies
"Portland Creep" and the Density Debate

While you can say all you want about how negative they are (yes they are) but what are they doing? They are effectively selling to certain segment of the population that sees the density of Portland as something that is very undesirable. While this group is well funded by conservative interest, they play on emotions and are good at making Portland sound bad. It will be interesting to see the elections results.

In Portland, the anti-MAX light rail forces have done an excellent job of demonizing MAX as the crime train. Now the east side MAX does have some issues but Gesham was a problem community before MAX even came along. But it has done the job, any time something happens anywhere near a MAX station the media always mention it is near a MAX station and the words "crime train" will show up in the comments within moments.

Another one you always hear no matter where you are is the argument rail is "19 century technology". The opponents have done such a good job of painting anything rail as outdated technology that "19th century technology" the first worlds out of months of many. You could go all day long on how the automobile is also 19th century and in some ways 18th century technology but it doesn't matter, rail is the outdated "19th century technology".

Another comparison is the Tea Party and Occupy. The Tea Party has done an excellent job of getting people to join their way of thinking because they are doing a better job of selling themselves. You do not have to agree with them but you have to respect the organization that has been created and instantly had a major effect on the 2010 election. Occupy meanwhile made lots of noise in October, made lots of enemies in many cities but has not become a major force. You don't have to like an organization to learn from what they do right.

Then again maybe if advocates would stop fighting among themselves, yes you are going to have disagreements after all we are all human but you must have a unified voice if you want to get your message across. Fortunately when it comes to public votes transit still wins a majority of the time, but that luck is going to run out without an organized voice that knows how to sell.

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