Can you image a newscast beginning with, “Well, you don’t have to go to the library to pick up good fiction. Downtown Eugene now has a very unusual venue for stories–the steps of a [public] parking garage.”
Can you imagine a municipal parking program staging an event that is covered by every local media outlet and involves the mayor, award-winning local writers, and celebrity Slug Queens?
Can you imagine a municipal parking program where getting positive media coverage is considered the norm?
I can because it is happening right here in Eugene, Ore. The City of Eugene’s municipal parking program, Epark Eugene, has garnered many positive news stories and kudos from the community. These stories have focused on projects the parking program has sponsored with community groups throughout downtown.
The quote above was the lead in line for a local news segment on November 30, 2012 for our Step into Stories installation, which displayed original flash fiction pieces (stories of 200 words or less) from local authors on 48” square panels in an internal stairway of our oldest downtown parking garage. During the dedication event, each author read their panels in the stairway (11 total stories) with the media filming and recording the whole experience. It cost $1,400 and returned at least 3 times that amount in positive media broadcast.
You have to give good things to report to receive good media coverage. You can’t just say something; you have to do something. Making visible positive changeand inviting the community to be part of it gives the media something to show and talk about. It also helps to give them something they might not expect.
Good media coverage can change the community conversation about parking and open new possibilities. You start attracting people like a student who wants to display her fiber art project on top of your parking garage, which becomes part your downtown’s First Friday Art Walk. Or, you work with other artists and community members on other large events.
While this is the season of giving, parking professional must think about giving thoughtful gifts back to the community all the time.