Facebook Twitter

W.V. HIRES PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM TO SPRUCE UP THE CITY’S IMAGE

SHARE W.V. HIRES PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM TO SPRUCE UP THE CITY’S IMAGE

Image may not be everything, but West Valley City is willing to pay up to $1,000 per month to improve the one it has.

The City Council has approved a contract with Mary Kay Lazarus/Public Relations, a Salt Lake firm, to provide the city with "public awareness consulting services."

City Manager John Patterson told the council that the goal is to improve West Valley's image, enhance its identity and increase the public's understanding of local government issues.

But critics have labeled the public relations effort a waste of money, saying better government would be more effective than "PR hype." The loudest complaint has come from a group seeking to change the form of government.

"The decision to hire a high-cost public relations firm to enhance the city's image only demonstrates the failures of the present form of government and that the current administration is responsible for the deterioration of the city's image," said Ed Persons, chairman of the Coalition for Accountable Government.

The group is circulating a petition to change the current city manager/

council form of government to a strong mayor/council form. Persons said he suspects the public relations work will be aimed at preserving the status quo, calling it a "costly and self-serving" response.

"I'm convinced that they've hired this public relations firm because of us," Persons said. "Taxpayers ought to be outraged; we don't need this expenditure."

City officials dismiss the assertion, noting that image was identified as a top priority during the city's 1993 strategic planning process long before the petition drive began.

In his report to the City Council, Patterson said image and identity are directly related to the city's other top priorities, including beautification, public safety and housing.

Seven public relations firms were invited to submit proposals. After evaluating the bids, city officials recommended the selection of Mary Kay Lazarus, who proposed a campaign that includes short and long-term strategies.

The firm proposes to train city officials in public relations, publish a newsletter, "pitch" stories to reporters, prepare a "PR campaign blitz" for special events, design and distribute promotional items and other projects.