A shooting in broad daylight at 17th and Chestnut. A woman beaten to death by a twelve-year-old. A commuter stabbed twice at a center city PATCO station. A passenger thrown onto the subway tracks under City Hall. A congresswoman carjacked in South Philly.

Philadelphia’s burgeoning crime problem is a daily nightmare.

Today, Philadelphia ranks above the national average in terms of crime and has the highest violent crime rate of the ten American cities with a population greater than one million residents. With a record 562 homicides last year Philadelphia’s murder rate once again jumped by more than eleven percent. And now, a new round of carjackings has racked the city.

An old adage rings true: “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”

And yes, these dastardly deeds are taking a toll on Philadelphia’s reputation and no doubt preventing the city’s economy from making a much-needed post Covid recovery.

READ MORE — State pressure on Philly mayor to reduce gun violence

Consider the following conclusions from a recent Pew Charitable Trusts study:

  • Since the Covid pandemic the city “has underperformed the national economy, recovering more slowly than many other cities have.”
  • Philadelphia’s job losses in the critical leisure and hospitality sector have more than doubled the national average and the same is true in the city’s largest job sector, health care and social assistance.
  • Since the pandemic more people are leaving the city. In fact, the average monthly number of people moving out of the city has nearly doubled.
  • Working from home seems more permanent and less temporary. It’s now estimated that 14 to 27 percent of people who worked on-site in Philadelphia pre-pandemic will “work remotely some or all of the time moving forward.”

The bottom line: a flight from the city and a sense of abandonment. 

At this critical juncture, Philadelphia needs reputation management. Reputation includes the intellectual, emotional and behavioral response to the public perception of any brand. In this case the brand is Philadelphia. And those of us in public relations know that reputation can drive business away or send it soaring to new, robust levels.

Next year is a municipal election year for Philadelphia — the city’s chance to recruit a new crop of leaders who will put Philadelphia’s future (and its reputation) first. Key business, civic and community stakeholders must unite now with an eye toward shared goals centered around brand building and brand management. The city’s public relations professionals stand ready to help. But first must come a recognition of the seriousness of the problem and a willingness to put aside past differences, recriminations and failed policies.

The hour is late. Philadelphia’s brand is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. The time for “many good deeds” is now!

Dan Cirucci and Lisa Simon are inductees of the Philadelphia Public Relations Hall of Fame.

4 thoughts on “Dan Cirucci and Lisa Simon: Philadelphia’s plummeting reputation is hindering its comeback after Covid”

  1. Response to Cirucci and Simon; my letter to several editors in town prior to the selection of new school super about one fundamental influence of our city needing an a big overhaul: !00% Graduation!

    Essential Missions for the Superintendent from a Loyal Contrarian

    March 18, 2022

    “Public schools are the most effective anti-poverty program ever created by government.” Please read that a second time.

    1. A new superintendent must believe this statement and undertake the mission to graduate 100% of the students. Aren’t all the students smart enough to graduate?

    To graduate means to be knowledgable, well read, literate, well spoken, confident, morally decent, polite, at grade level in all courses and on the path to becoming a contributing citizen, voter and being productive. 100% of the students.

    The students are smart; the school board and the school district’s leaders can rise up, too, if challenged to do this.

    2. The second goal for the superintendent is to make our schools so successful that people move into our city instead of moving away from our low rated schools. Why tolerate low rated schools in any neighborhood? That verges on criminal behavior against our students.

    The obstacles must be overcome or plowed right through to achieve these two goals. These goals are much too important for our city’s prosperity and well being not to plow right through the obstacles.

    Work rules must be flexible for the students, teachers need the freedom to innovate, the union and charters must work together to achieve these goals, parents must fully support hard work and home work, disciplinary and behavioral standards must be appropriate for teaching and learning at this new level, alternative avenues to success must be provided, bureaucracy must stand aside for the education of the students, principals must be allowed to select teachers for their schools, and allowed to keep ineffective teachers out of their classrooms. Does anyone pay school taxes for ineffective teachers to spoil any student’s education?

    3. Taxpayers need to receive expressions of appreciation from the Superintendent, from the teachers and from the School Board for the vast amounts of money that they all pay specifically to support the best anti-poverty program ever, public education.

    Has anyone in any school district ever thanked the citizens and parents who pay their salaries? Build a relationship between the beneficiaries of our school taxes and those who pay their salaries.

    4. Let the next superintendent bring a whirlwind of fresh air to our public schools and to the city as a whole. A superintendent can be far more beneficial to our city by achieving 100% graduation of well educated and optimistic young citizens than any mayor can.

    We need a fearless iconoclast, a contrarian, a bold leader, and a determined individual to plow through the roadblocks impeding our student’s education. The superintendent must set this essential mission to graduate 100% of the students well prepared for the next steps forward in their lives.

    Can one of the present candidates achieve these goals?

    Gardner A. Cadwalader

  2. Too late. I fear the City is at the start of a long slow painful death spiral. No chance of a turnaround given we now have a few almost communist city council members in office in a one-party Democratic town. Can you say Krasner? Sure, I knew you could!
    Hey, the elites know best and they think the city is being run great.

    1. Elected and re-elected. All of them. That says it all – elections have consequences and at some point, you deserve what you get. Rendell, Street and Nutter did great jobs and the city got better every year. Then, like NYC, people took the efforts for granted and put in wild eyed lefties – now look.

  3. There are two Philadelphias. One where the elites are catered to and the other where life is hard, cruel and often short.

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