Arizona’s tarnished image:
What not to do in crisis communications

Arizona lost the 2012 Republican convention, is threatened with losing the 2011 Major League Baseball All Star game (may still move) since passing SB 1070, the “immigration law.”

In two weeks, Arizona lost in excess of $20-million in convention revenue. It also risks losing the Chicago Cubs, the largest revenue generating team during annual MLB spring training. More than 23 organizations and musical acts have canceled planned events in the state.

Yet public relations being done for the state is similar to how Tiger Woods handled his PR in November and December, 2009. The term for it is sticking your head in the sand and hoping it goes away.

Instead of being proactive and being on the weekend political news shows, the week-day morning national news shows, Larry King, Nightline, Ellen and Oprah, Arizona’s governor has been transparent. As transparent as Woods at the end of 2009.

It’s as if she’s unaware she is facing a crisis.

Meanwhile, cities including Austin, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle have seen a golden goose of publicity via “boycotting” Arizona.

Arizona went through something similar in the early ‘90s over Gov. Evan Mecham’s handling of the Martin Luther King holiday.

Today’s marketing crisis is being handled the same as it was 20 years ago – horrifically.

Some interesting facts about Arizona. In less than two years the state celebrates its centennial; the last continental centennial and the last for the next 47 years. As part of the non-profit formed in 2004 to handle this, I was shocked when then-Gov. Janet Napolitano passed the FIRST bill of her 2005 term; essentially to outlaw the organization planning the state’s centennial.

Phoenix claims it is the nation’s fifth largest city, yet a recent poll placed it 128th on desirability for business locations.

Arizona ranks LAST on education financing (per student), but the state university located in Tempe is the nation’s largest. The world’s largest “for-profit” university has its headquarters in Arizona.

What would I do if I were the state? Ironically, I am Arizona’s #1 ranked public relations expert per social media site Linkedin.

My answer to what I would do? No business or government agency has bothered to contact me. End of that story and explains why Arizona has a severe image problem.

Finally, the state is voting today on its largest sales tax increase in history – nearly an 18 percent increase. This to cover one of the worst budget deficits (percentage-wise) of any state government in history. State government is also the state’s largest employer, with other state funded government agencies, like City of Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona State University and Maricopa County Community College District, making up nearly half the state’s top 10 employers. My bet is Arizonans will pass this tax increase.


  1. Arizona ranks LAST on education financing (per student)not because the state of AZ does not fund K-12 schools adequetly but because the "non-teaching" positions in 155+ school districts are almost equal in number to the teaching positions. What a monumental waste of tax payer money. And how does our AZ Dept. of Education justify the need for 155+ school districts in a state with ony 6.2 million population. Government out of control again!

  2. Bravo. Tucson has six school districts for not even 200,000 households.

    Not even 1-million households in Phoenix, but look at ALL these school districts - each with a superintendent realizing 6-figures in annual salary.

    Phoenix School Districts A-Z

    Alhambra Elementary School District
    Balsz Elementary School District
    Cartwright Elementary School District
    Cave Creek Unified School District
    Creighton Elementary School District
    Deer Valley Unified School District
    Fowler Elementary School DistrictGlendale Union High School District
    Isaac Elementary School District
    Kyrene Elementary School District
    Laveen Elementary School District
    Littleton Elementary School District
    Madison Elementary School District
    Maricopa County Regional Schools
    Murphy Elementary School District
    Osborn Elementary School District
    Paradise Valley Unified School District
    Pendergast Elementary School District
    Phoenix Elementary School District
    Phoenix Union High School District
    Riverside Elementary School District
    Roosevelt Elementary School District
    Scottsdale Unified School District
    Tempe Elementary School District
    Tempe Union High School District
    Tolleson Elementary School District
    Tolleson Union High School District
    Union Elementary School District
    Washington Elementary School District
    Wilson Elementary School District


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