You don’t have to listen too closely to hear the air hissing from New York’s punctured PR balloon.
Time Warner dropped the latest bombshell on the numbed city with news that its cable, AOL and publishing businesses aren’t worth the $25B that the company thought they were valued. CEO Jeff Bewkes expects TW will report a loss for `08, its first deficit in six years. TW, in the biggest understatement so far in the New Year, said “the economic environment has proved somewhat more challenging” than previously expected. Its beleaguered shareholders pray that corporate raider Carl Icahn launches another run on the company. Captain Carl thought TW shares were worth about $25 in `06. They now trade for $10.
TW’s media mess joins the Big Apple’s financial, publishing, advertising and real estate crises. Wall Street is a ghost town these days, and this blogger can’t remember the last time he walked down an empty 47th Street, the heart of Manhattan’s diamond district that used to be bustling with activity around lunch time. Jewelry storefronts are vacant and those stores still open lacked customers.
New York is downright depressing these days. Restaurants and buses are empty. Riding the Lexington Ave. subway is less of a sardine-like experience. The city’s swagger is gone. The only company making noise on Madison Ave is coming from Hyundai. The Korean carmaker unveiled a promotion in which a buyer can return the car within a year if he loses his job. Ad execs, in need of wheels, will flock to their local Hyundai dealers to pick up the “official car of Mad Ave.”
There is a one shining beacon for hungry PR people. The CEO at a Top Ten conglom-owned PR firm said at lunch yesterday that he considered moving to Washington because that is where the action will be in the Age of Obama. Movers & shakers who will decide where to allocate President Obama’s $750B-$1T stimulus plan are based in D.C. New Yorkers will be the outsiders looking in on the sea change set for Washington.
The Capital City always enjoys a burst of activity with the election of a new Administration, especially one from the other political party. This time is way different.
The Obama Administration is a cultural, political and economic game-changer. If a New Yorker wants to make a difference he should take heed of an updated quote from Horace Greeley, and “Go South, Young Man/Woman.”