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Thinking Big

Casey Jones 4x5 (2)

We often drive a lot during the holiday season to visit friends and family up north. If I’m not concentrating on fending off the 18-wheeler that seems to enjoy my lane more than his, these drives give me time to think. I spend at least some of the seven-hour trip reflecting on the passing year and gearing up for the next by setting my New Year’s resolutions. This year I went for working out more and of course, cutting out as many sugary treats as possible. iStock_000062256442_Large

As resolutions go, Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors came up with a big one for the coming year. Posted recently on a LinkedIn series about big ideas that will shape 2016, Barra offered that the coming year will be transformative in the way people get to and from their destinations. She identified three key areas for change and committed to leading the auto industry through the transformation. As parking professionals, it’s worth paying attention to what the world’s auto makers are focusing on this year and years to come. Barra’s key areas and the future focus for GM are: 1) shared mobility, 2) autonomous vehicles, and 3) alternative propulsion.

For marketing expert Michael Spencer, the most interesting topic for 2016 is the millennial generation. According to Spencer, understanding this age cohort is critical to successfully providing consumer goods and services. Because Millennials are the largest age cohort, they are first digital natives, they are omni-social and connected, they have less money to spend, they are encumbered by debt, and their values and preferences are different than other generations. In response, Spencer suggests having a good brand and optimizing it on social media; creating campaigns that relate to social good; having a “soul for sustainability;” and most interestingly, he suggests marketing your vulnerability since Millennials value quality and transparency.

It’s hard not to think of the future in any way without considering the impact of technology on our industry, our society, and perhaps even our very essence as humans. Ian Bremmer, president at Eurasia Group writes, “Almost everybody who talks about the rise of technology today focuses on automation and how it’s eliminating jobs quicker than they can be replaced; very few people focus on how technology is changing us, our identity, how we organize our lives. and coexist with one another. Nature vs. nurture has now become a triangle of nature vs. nurture vs. technology, and we know very little about how this third corner will shape us, in 2016 and beyond.”

Only time will tell if our resolutions or future predictions come true but it will be an exciting year by any measure. Think big.

Become an Authority Figure


When I was in college way back in the 20th century, bumper stickers and tee shirts suggesting that we Question Authority were in vogue. Authority figures were anathema, not to be trusted or followed. (Come to think of it, things may not have changed so much—my kids still behave this way!)

iStock_000020000698_LargeIn the business world, however, authority is still in vogue. We rely on authorities to share insights and provide best practices to help us manage our organizations more effectively, efficiently, and profitably. This is one of the underlying foundations of public relations (my specialty). If you can establish yourself as an authority on subjects that matter to your customers and potential customers, you have taken an important step toward gaining their business.

This is why publicity has always been such a powerful marketing and business development tool. Articles in local and national business and industry press provide a great opportunity to demonstrate your expertise on issues customers and prospects need help with. And there are plenty of opportunities to author bylined articles in local or national newspapers and magazines, or serve as experts to be interviewed for articles.

Blogging offers similar opportunities to assume authority of issues your customers and potential partners care about. In fact, blogs offer a uniquely attractive opportunity because you aren’t constrained by editorial calendars or magazine’s publication guidelines. You can write about anything you want in any format you please. You can construct your messages with a focus on what your audiences want to read rather than on what an editor wants. Blogging can be a wonderfully effective complement to a publicity program too. That’s why you should be blogging.

It pays to be an authority figure if you are marketing a product or service. Blogging and seeking out publicity opportunities are great places to start.

Greetings From Old Orchard Beach Maine!


I’m sitting on the beach with a suitably fruity drink in my hand. Yes, that’s Jimmy Buffett playing in the background. It’s nice to have a little stress-free time, isn’t it?

We all look forward to vacation so we can strip some of the stress from our lives, but it seems to me that we cause a lot of our own stress unnecessarily. One of the ways we do this is to chase every bit of work that presents itself. You’ve all been there: staying at the office late to finish a proposal for work that you aren’t even sure you want to win. Work isn’t always going to be fun (that’s why it’s called work, right?), but we shouldn’t be setting ourselves up for failure by pursuing projects that we don’t want to do or pitching people with whom we don’t want to work.

All too often, though, that’s exactly what we do. At many organizations, the mantra is “any work is good work.”

Rather than pursuing every opportunity that presents itself, parking organizations should seek clients, customers, and strategic partners they want to work with. The best connections are with organizations that share your values. The best customers value what you do and what you stand for—and, by the way, they are more willing to pay a premium for it.

How do you find these ideal customers? Part of the challenge is truly understanding the markets you serve and where the best clients can be found, and then directing your marketing—your personal outreach and networking, public relations, advertising, online marketing, etc.—to those targets, and other organizations like them.

Also, tell your story in your marketing. Who are you? Why do you do what you do? What sets you and your people apart? When you convey these types of messages, you will naturally attract the types of organizations with which you want to work. They will seek you out.

Connecting with the right customers (not just any customer) will dramatically improve your organization. Your organization will be more successful, your customer interactions will be more pleasant, and your stress level (and your staffs’) will drop significantly. It makes work a day at the beach.

4 Stars + 2 Dollar Signs + 3 Comments = Success

Casey Jones 4x5 (2)

Many of us are at the peak of conference season. Though it makes for a packed calendar, I love this time of year because I get to reconnect with friends and colleagues and build new relationships. I’m also a bit of a foodie and traveling gives me a chance to try lots of different restaurants. Conferences, friends, and food make a great combination.

Like many of you, when I go to an unfamiliar city I rely heavily on my trusty Yelp app to pick a place to eat. My strategy is to find a restaurant that has lots of reviews and at least 4 out of 5 stars. If I’m watching my budget I look at the number of dollar signs, which is an indication of how pricey my meal will be. I also dig into at least a few of the reviews to get a good sense of what to expect. This method relies on quantitative and qualitative data to inform my restaurant choice. I don’t rely on one thing, but many to decide.

In some ways, deciding if a conference has been a success is a lot like picking a good restaurant. We use many metrics, not just one. One thing that is relatively common at conferences, especially for exhibitors, is to fixate on foot traffic. It’s certainly true that having people on the show floor interacting with vendors, suppliers, and other business partners is important, but this ignores so much more that may go into building or maintaining a relationship with a client. It also suggests to me that the exhibitor who relies only on foot traffic may be missing many other opportunities to grow their business by participating in educational sessions or roundtable talk and, informally networking between sessions, at meals, or after the show floor is closed for the day. Simply put, we need to think much more broadly about what contributes to success than counting the number of people who come to our booth.

One vendor at IPI’s most recent conference in Las Vegas made this point clear to me. He said, the conference had been very successful for his company, but that “business isn’t conducted just on the show floor. It happens everywhere.”

Thankfully we now have tools like Yelp to guide us to great places to eat. These apps are reliable because they don’t just focus on one thing but many as predictors of success—a great meal in the case of choosing a restaurant. It’s time for us to expand this idea to our conferences where many things—not just one—contribute to a great show and productive business opportunities.

Have a great conference season and if you find exceptional restaurants along the way, be certain to write a review. I’ll be sure to read it.

You Really Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

Bill Smith

I’m 51 years old. I don’t know how old that is in dog years, but I do know that I’m not too old to learn. This was reinforced for me during the past six months as I worked with a brilliant team of branding professionals to put together a new website.

Now, right up front, I need to be honest: my old website stunk. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. It was boring. And because I hadn’t updated it since 2008, it was really outdated too. Ever heard about the cobbler’s kids needing new shoes?

The first thing I learned was that as much as branding is about what you know and what you do (and what you’ve done in the past, of course), it’s just as important to build your brand around who you are. What’s important to you (or your organization)? What do you stand for? Why do you do what you do?

Are you trying to revolutionize the ways parkers work with technology? Are you trying to rewrite the rules for how parking facilities are designed? Are you trying to make communities more sustainable through parking planning? These are your stories. Tell them. In a crowded marketplace filled with excellent engineers or planners or technology providers or parking operators, often, it’s who you are that makes you stand out.

The design process taught me something else: it’s not just about getting new customers; it’s about getting the right customers. Letting your personality and values shine throughout your marketing will help you attract customers and partners with whom you want to work.

Redesigning my website was an illuminating experience. It showed me that I may be an old dog, but I can still learn a few tricks.

Holiday Parking Ideas

L. Dennis Burns

Every year I think about this, but have yet to follow up. So this is the year (with your help)!  I know there are lots of great ideas out there about how parking programs can integrate holiday promotions into their operations, but I have never seen them collected anywhere. Let’s start this year!

I will throw out a few examples and let’s see if we start building a library of holiday parking practices to share with our colleagues.  Here are a few ideas to get the sleigh sliding:

  • Houston Airport decorates their parking gate arms like candy canes.burns1


  • burns2Both the Lexington Parking Authority and the Fort Collins Parking Services department allow customers to pay outstanding citations with cans of food that are donated to local food programs.


  • A few years ago, the Downtown Boulder Inc. (DBI) collected citations from customer vehicle windshields and replaced them with the following note:


PS – DBI paid the citations to the tune of approximately $6,000.

  • Some shopping malls play Christmas music over speakers in their parking lots.


  • Some downtown districts offer free parking during the holidays to attract customers.


  • Some parking programs, downtown associations, and shopping malls sponsor holiday banners on the streets and in parking lots to promote the holiday season.

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 4.59.30 PM

Now it’s your turn.  What other holiday parking ideas can we come up with? List them in the comments. And happy holidays!


A Two-Way Street

Bill Smith

Most people think of marketing as selling, and to some extent they are correct. Selling is about the transaction and that’s certainly an important part of marketing. But to me, marketing is much more.Twoway

It’s really about communicating. It’s about letting fellow parking professionals know what’s special about your organization; letting prospective customers know what sets you apart and why they need to work with you; letting potential partners know what value you can bring to a relationship; and letting parking industry stars know why you are a great place to work.

Like all successful communication, marketing is a two-way street. What you learn is just as important as what you say.  Too many organizations make the mistake of thinking that marketing is about controlling the dialogue. They create their messages in a vacuum and then force-feed them to their audiences.

It’s essential to be constantly listening to your audiences so you know what they want when you are developing your products and services and creating sales strategies. Paying close attention to what your audiences are saying also lets you know where you stand so you can adjust your messages.

From a marketing perspective, there are a number of ways to encourage your audiences to engage you. On a micro level, one-on-one communication with customers and influential parking leaders can provide invaluable feedback. Also, pay close attention to industry publications such as The Parking Professional as well as publications in other industries with an interest in parking, to keep up with what your customers and competitors are saying. Parking and other industry conferences also provide valuable opportunities to keep up with the most important issues affecting your customers.

Social media also promotes two-way communication. It allows organizations to engage their audiences and receive direct feedback. LinkedIn and Facebook, for instance, allow readers to respond directly to posts while Twitter permits re-tweets and response tweets. These and other social media platforms have changed the landscape, and you should take advantage of this new dynamic.

Ultimately, marketing, like any other type of communication, requires give and take to be successful. Make sure you are listening as much as you’re talking.



Are You Prepared For The Phablet Age?

Bill Smith

I’m an early adopter. I love toys, especially electronic ones. For the past few years, my favorites have been made by Apple—my Macbook Pro, iPad, and iPhone. So it should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I’ve already picked up an iPhone 6. I think I showed great restraint by waiting until the second day of release to get one, though!

I’m having a blast playing with my new toy. The bigger screen is easier on this old man’s eyes, and it’s much easier for me to type on. But the thing that stands out mostly for me is how the advent of the phablet (a cross between a smartphone and a tablet) is going to change marketing. Smartphones are nothing more than portable computers, and today’s larger phones with massive screens make them that much more useful for Web browsing and emailing.

If your organization hasn’t adapted to the new world order of phablets, you need to. According to one study, one in three Internet users already does the bulk of his or her surfing via mobile technologies. Organizations that haven’t optimized their online content for mobile users are behind the times and in danger of being left in the dust by their competition.

This is particularly true for parking companies. After all, whose customers are more mobile? Drivers want quick and convenient access to information about parking programs, available parking spaces, and validation—not to mention mobile payment options. But the power of mobile networking goes beyond drivers. City managers, parking owners, and facility operators use their iPads and smart phones to access information about consulting firms, technology companies, and other suppliers.

Desktop computers are so 20th century. If you want to compete in today’s marketplace, your online content needs to be smartphone friendly. Welcome to The Phablet Age!

Parking Manager Lemonade Stand

Jeff Petry

Last week, as part of an effort to solicit feedback on a proposed parking rate increase, I set up my parking manager lemonade lemonadestand at various locations in our downtown. The intent of the lemonade stand is to give parking customers an opportunity to provide feedback, face to face. It is a friendly, and perhaps unexpected, approach to engage everyday parking customers, right where they are.

The lemonade stand was set up for about six hours at three locations over the course of three days. Here is what I learned/observed:

Downtown Park Location (lunch time):

-      A consistent flow of vehicle and pedestrian customers at our weekday Farmers’ Market that included downtown employees, families, people in suites or workout clothes, all ages, bicyclists–a perfect mixture of downtown customers!

-      A street violin player playing pleasing background music that could be heard better in the lulls of the vehicle traffic.

-      A farmer’s market booth staff person was curious about the “competition” of a lemonade stand and was pleasantly surprised to the find the City of Eugene’s parking manager in his bowling shirt uniform talking to downtown customers!

-      No questions or concerns on the parking rate increase, just smiles.

Downtown Parking Garage (4:00 – 6:00 p.m.)

-      More smiles from customers heading home from work.

-      Biggest question – Why did you remove all the trash cans from this garage?

  • Note: We removed trash cans from this parking garage to minimize our custodial needs and due to trash studies showing it was used by people dumping their home garbage in our cans. As a follow up, we will place a few more trash cans on the ground floor retail entry areas.

-      One downtown employee delivered an envelope containing a letter signed by about a dozen people asking us to not increase rates.

-      General comments of no issues with the first monthly permit rate increase in seven years.

Another Downtown Parking Garage (7:00 – 9:00 a.m.)

-      General questions such as: Where is the bus station? Is there secure bike parking? Why are you here?

-      General comments of no issues with the first monthly permit rate increase in seven years.

-      Several people took photos in the lemonade stand to show their coworkers.

The lemonade stand augmented a communications strategy that incorporated mail and social media, and allowed the parking program to add a personal touch to parking management and talk to our everyday customers. It helps defray the emotion that is present in emailed feedback. It provides a visual token that customers will remember for months to come. And, most importantly, it humanizes our parking program.

So, would you like a glass of lemonade?

Getting Ready For The Big D

Bill Smith

Many of you are preparing for your annual trek to the 2014 IPI Conference & Expo. In just a few days, you’ll be in Texas, reconnecting with old friends and colleagues, checking out the latest products, and engaging in professional development through presentations on the latest trends and best practices.

As someone who specializes in parking and marketing, this is a particularly exciting event. In addition to the usual presentations on parking-related topics, this year will also feature the inaugural presentation of the IPI Parking Matters® Marketing and Communications Awards at the Tuesday morning general session from 8 to 9:30 a.m.. In addition to recognizing excellence in marketing, they also provide an opportunity to share marketing best practices with other parking organizations, demonstrating what works and how organizations have used these best practices to promote not only themselves, but the industry as a whole.

Parking professionals know how their work affects people’s lives every day. Through IPI’s Parking Matters® program and through the marketing programs of individual organizations, the industry has done a terrific job of educating the public about the importance of parking to their lives and exciting new parking developments and trends. But there is still much work to be done when it comes to promoting parking.

It is incumbent upon us to market ourselves, our organizations, and the industry. The IPI Conference & Expo presents a wonderful opportunity for parking professionals to demonstrate their marketing achievements and share ideas and experiences.

As you attend presentations to learn about new tools, management approaches, and trends, think about where communication fits into the lessons you are learning. If you return home with an idea for a new parking initiative for your hometown, think about how you will communicate that initiative to local leaders and citizens. If you decide to implement a new technology that you find at the symposium, plan for how you will educate parkers about the benefits of that technology. If you learn a new management approach, think about how you will educate management and staff about that approach, how it will work, and how it will benefit the organization.

We live in a communication age, and the importance of strategic communication touches on everything we do. So as you attend presentations in Dallas and share ideas with colleagues, think about where communication fits into what you are learning and which communication strategies will be most effective in sharing what you have learned when you return home.

Bill Smith’s presentation, Marketing Matters: Why Your Marketing Is Coming Up Short And How To Fix It will be offered on Tuesday, June 3.

Hashtagging Parking

Jeff Petry

Hashtags (preceding a word with the # symbol, such as #parking) were popularized by Twitter many years ago and have since found 2013-10-11 20.12.52their way into more places on the internet and social media. Sites such as Instagram, Vine, and Facebook, use hashtags to quickly link photos, videos, and comments across all of their users. It’s easy and there is no naming convention–type #parking into your search engine (or follow the link) and view the images it returns. Hashtag your organization, city, or parking program in the search box to see what your customers are saying!

So, how do you hashtag your program? It is important to understand what is out there. I use the Flipboard app on my iPad to track hashtagged words across all social media sites. If we dig deep enough, I am pretty sure most of our parking programs will come up under #parkingtickets and #parkingmeter. The trick for us is to do things that people want to hashtag in a positive light.

For example, my program, Epark Eugene, experienced some issues with customers having trouble locating multi-space meters on a busy street. We partnered with our city’s public art program to hire a local artist to paint (and protective coat) five of our meter housings. The project’s goals were to make it easier to find parking by:

  • Adding color to everyday parking objects.
  • Incorporating art that is identifiable at 25 miles an hour.
  • Including the universally-accepted “P” image.

Success is measured by increased meter use, reduced citations, and social media mentions of the new art using hashtags. See the Instagram photo in this post? It worked!
2013-10-19 20.34.11

Another project that used hashtags and social media to build positive messages around parking tapped into the current zombie craze. Downtown Eugene has a 1976 era parking garage with heavy duty steel doors that present a prison look in our stairways and have not worked in decades. Our parking supervisor painted the doors bright red and hung a sign that read, “Close Gate In Case of Zombie Outbreak.” We get nothing but smiles from this cool sign in a parking garage in downtown Eugene.

Just when we were getting used to and printing QR codes, along comes another technology tool! This one is really easy, so hastag your parking program!

Elevator Pitch

Frank L. Giles

You get onto an elevator with a total stranger, you both say good morning to each other, and then he looks at you and asks, “So what do you do?” You now have 30 seconds to explain your job–Go!

Most of us know what an elevator pitch is: the 30-second speech we give when encountering someone who wants to know who we are and what we and our companies do. That’s usually easy enough, except this is the parking industry and explaining that bit alone is enough to eat up 30 seconds and then some. As parking professionals, I don’t think we can afford to wing it when it comes to our elevator pitches. In an industry as under-appreciated as parking, we have to have that speech locked and loaded.

One trick I use is to forgo my name and title until the very end. I start right off explaining my operation, and then go into how what I do might affect my new acquaintance or how the parking industry affects things like traffic, property value, and quality of life. If there is time, I’ll give my name and title (if they were really interested, they’ll ask anyway).

Of course, you have to tailor your own elevator pitch to suit you, but it’s something that requires proactive thought. Don’t be caught off-guard. The parking deck may be our office, but the elevator is our media room.


Have a great elevator speech? Send it to Kim Fernandez for a future feature article.

Branding: The Real Deal or Fancy Packaging?

Casey Jones 4x5 (2)

My kids received Kindle tablets for Christmas. Santa thought the devices might lead to more reading but so far, the kids have been trying
SPLogosout game after game (thankfully, only free ones so far). One game they like has you guess the name of a company from a partial image of its logo. That got me thinking about what makes a brand strong and recognizable even if a consumer never buys the product or service behind the logo.

I got my first lesson in effective parking branding in Portland, Ore., in the early ‘90s, when the Smart Park brand was created for the city’s public parking system. The brand was clean, bold, and simple, and accompanied by spokesperson Les Park, who was at your service. Most importantly, the brand conveyed friendliness, safety, and economy–exactly the attributes to overcome negative perceptions about downtown parking as being impersonal, unsafe, and expensive.

More recently, my company, Standard Parking, began the process of rebranding itself following its merger with Central Parking. Please forgive the unintended company plug, but it’s rare to be in a position to describe what goes into developing a company brand. I’m sharing some details in the hope that readers find the information useful.

Standard Parking Corporation changed its corporate name to SP Plus Corporation (though for the time being the company will continue to conduct its parking operations under its legacy brands). The visual centerpiece of the rebranding effort is a new SP+ logo that is fresh, colorful, and bold. Its elements preserve a connection with the legacy brands (SP in recognition of Standard Parking and a “+” symbol in Central Parking’s legacy gold color). The “+” highlights that the company is about more than just parking, having evolved into a team of operations specialists who link innovation with market-based expertise in parking, transportation, facility maintenance, event logistics, and security services. The company’s new commitment statement, “Innovation In Operation,” signifies a promise to apply innovative thinking in everything the company does.

There’s much more to an effective brand than a fancy logo. In order for a brand to stick, it must convey and deliver on its value proposition. Otherwise, it’s just slick packaging and empty promises.


Time to Rethink Your Marketing

Bill Smith

It’s the best time of the year. Ok, it’s the second best time of year—the night my beloved Red Sox won the World Series was the best time of the year. Still, the holiday season is pretty nice.

For many consultants and companies that serve the parking industry, this is also one of the busiest and most important times of the year. That’s because it’s strategic planning time. Corporate leaders are thinking about what new markets they will explore in the coming months, what new products and services they’ll introduce, and how they will continue to meet the needs of current customers. This is the time of year during which the foundation is built for next year’s success—and for success even further down the road.

Yet, as important as this planning season is for companies, most take an incomplete approach. One important area in which organizations fall short is not including marketing in the planning process. Rather than considering marketers important members of the strategy team, most organizations treat them as tacticians tasked merely with selling the organization’s strategic plan.

Your marketing professionals—whether in-house staff or on-call consultants—bring a unique skillset and knowledge base to the table. They are familiar with industry and market trends that revolve around marketing, they know how to make initiatives more marketable, and—most importantly—they understand how your strategic initiatives will impact, and be impacted by, your corporate brand. The fresh perspective your marketing team can bring can help move your organization’s planning process in new, productive directions.

Make a resolution now to focus on one of your most powerful planning resources. Make sure that your marketing team plays a prominent role in your organization’s strategic planning.




Spreading The Word

Bill Smith

I am a parking nerd, which would be a source of merriment for my father if he were still alive. You see, my dad was an engineer and well-known authority on handicap access and historic preservation. When I was young, I used to love to tease him about being, well, a nerd. When we were together, there was never a shortage of pocket protector jokes (which he always accepted with good humor).

If he could see me today he would surely be getting his revenge.

After 20 years of creating public relations programs for parking firms and industry groups, I have genuinely come to love parking. I’m fascinated by the ways it affects our lives, the creative solutions engineers and planners come up with to solve difficult parking challenges, and the cool new technologies that are constantly being introduced. And I love to talk about these things. Being Italian, talking comes naturally to me, and as a public relations (PR) professional, talking is my business.

Over the course of my career I have come to realize that it’s not just marketing or PR professionals who need to be spreading the word about parking. Anyone who works in the parking industry—whether as an owner, operator, consultant, or staff member—needs to be talking about the industry and why it’s important.

In this communication age, everyone is a marketer. Do you talk about your job when you are at parties or after attending church? If so, you are marketing. When you are with friends or colleagues, do you talk about your latest project or the organization where you work? Whenever you do, you are doing PR. Are you active on LinkedIn or other social media sites promoting your career? If so, you are also promoting your organization and profession.

Think about this the next time you are talking about work, your latest project, or what you love about your job. Enthusiasm is infectious, and when you share yours with neighbors, friends, or even strangers, you have an opportunity to help people understand why parking is so interesting and essential. Sharing your passion for parking will benefit you professionally, help promote your company or organization, and bolster the parking industry.

Think about it…and then go spread the word.


Bill Smith will present “We Are All ‘Mad Men (and Women)’” at the IPI Conference & Expo General Session on Wednesday, May 22. This session will explain why everyone is a marketer and how promoting individual organizations and the industry itself benefits the careers of parking professionals. For information and to register, visit





Announcing Change

Bill Smith

If you are a municipal parking manager, you know how daunting it can seem to roll out policy, procedure, or rate changes. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news. These changes aren’t necessarily bad news, however, and you shouldn’t treat them that way. Many municipalities and public organizations don’t have strategies to explain change, and communication is essential to the success of any parking planning initiative.

Here are five tips for assuring a successful roll-out:

  1. Build support first. Policy and procedure changes are made for a reason. Prior to publicly rolling them out, explain them and their benefits to key stakeholders. Listen to—and answer—any concerns they have and ask for their support.
  2. Create a plan to inform the public of the change. This will likely include writing and distributing a news release announcing the change, as well as assembling materials that explain the anticipated benefits. If possible, brief the media before the changes are announced so they are fully informed when they write their stories. Keep in touch with reporters who are covering the story and make yourself available to answer questions and concerns.
  3. Anticipate who won’t support the changes and why. You’ll have a general sense of what kinds of questions and concerns people will have. Have answers ready before you announce changes.
  4. Don’t be afraid of opposition. You will never please everyone. Most people, by nature, don’t like change. Assume you will have to win over the community and that it might not happen overnight. Recognize that opponents may have legitimate concerns that could help to refine and improve the new policy.
  5. Trust yourself and your decision. Policy and procedure changes don’t just happen. They are the result of careful consideration and your knowledge of how parking affects the community. Trust that you made the right decision. If you communicate why and how the decision was made, chances are your community will agree.


The Art of Parking

Jeff Petry

Having the “Sunbathing Lady of the Lot” suddenly appear in our parking lot opened my mind to parking art. It also led me down a path of path of parking art that has included Knotty Knitters crafting cozies for meter poles and bike racks, a yearlong partnership with students at nearby Lane Community College to design and fabricate custom bike racks, a North American art competition on the wall of a parking garage that’s run for three years now, poetry installed in the stairway of a parking garage, a poem on the epark Eugene iPhone app, digital art on top of parking garages, and a street artist competition on concrete parking bollards.

We in Eugene have enjoyed a breadcrumb approach to incorporating art into our parking program. It started with the city’s Public Art Plan goal to “incorporate art into everyday objects.” It continued by inserting the word “parking” into this goal and working to “incorporate art into everyday parking objects.”

My first exposure to parking art was an overnight installation by the 12th Avenue Collaborative group that placed a parking space-sized, bikini-clad lady in our lot. I had a choice: trash it or let it stay. The artists made the decision easy by paying for all the parking spaces they used, and the lady attracted a lot of downtown visitors and positive attention, which is great news for any parking program.

Recently, at the Pacific Intermountain Parking & Transportation Association (PITPA) Conference and Tradeshow, keynote speaker Darin Watkins, of Washington State University, asked the audience, “How many of you can say you had three positive media stories  about your program in the last year?” I was able to raise my hand because we have invested in local partnerships that bring creativity to our parking system. This idea, however, is not unique. It could be implemented anywhere. All it takes is a parking professional willing to ask the question. Are you that person?

What’s in a Parking Brand?

Brett Wood

Can you name many parking programs off the top of your head? Maybe the one you work for?

If you pay close attention to the industry, you know SFpark. They have been at the forefront of the parking technology revolution for a few years now. But it’s more than their robust approach to parking management that makes them famous; it’s their brand and the way they present themselves to both the San Francisco community and the parking industry. They developed an iconography and brand that announces to the parker that it’s safe and easy to park when you see the SFpark logo. And even beyond that, they expanded their brand into a marketing and education campaign that compliments the programs mission and goals. See the print version here, and the video they developed here.

I recently helped lead a branding exercise with the City of Seattle Department of Transportation, along with one of the industry’s premier branding experts, Todd Pierce of Pictoform. The exercise was eye-opening and engaging, and the result was a brand and communication strategy that supported the new program, promoted new policies, spun a positive image of the parking agency, and had a little fun with a local flair.

The first component of the exercise was creating a brand for the on-street system. The sign design we came up with expresses the brand, communicates policy, and informs the parker of specific programs (in this case, “Value Block,” which might have lower rates or longer time limits to promote parking in less-used fringe areas).

The second component was to develop an educational video that explained the new policies. Working with local media specialists Team Soapbox, we decided a more local approach worked better than the animated SFpark approach. From our perspective, it seemed fun to see how the Seafair Pirates (a Seattle icon) handled the new program. The result was a humorous set of videos that Seattle residents can easily connect with.

The parking industry is evolving at a rapid pace, and the way we present ourselves is becoming more important than ever. It’s time to put your best foot forward and show your customers you mean business!