O'Malley sings praises of Ravens and the city

In days approaching Super Bowl, mayor thinks commerce

N.Y., national media spots

Super Bowl Xxxv

Ravens Vs. Giants

January 24, 2001|By Gady A. Epstein | Gady A. Epstein,SUN STAFF

Talk about your 15 minutes.

Mayor Martin O'Malley's trying to stretch the city's exposure -- and, some might suggest, his own -- as far as he can in these final days before Super Bowl Sunday.

The mayor took his cheerleadin', hammin'-it-up, in-your-face show on the road yesterday, walking right into enemy territory on the streets of Manhattan.

With the help of a Baltimore-based public relations firm, O'Malley soaked up the television floodlights and did newspaper and radio interviews in the nation's No. 1 media market.

In a span of just about eight hours yesterday, he talked trash with weatherman Al Roker of NBC's "Today" show -- "He started throwing that New York stuff at me," the mayor explained -- and he mugged for CNBC, CNN and the major New York-area TV outlets. He also talked some more trash with New Yorkers in Times Square for a local television crew and chatted with the big city tabloids and Bloomberg News. All in his Baltimore Ravens jacket, of course.

Today, national promotional spots are expected to begin airing on CBS stations featuring O'Malley and New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. O'Malley may appear on some cable television networks today, he's already booked for a CNN radio interview and sometime around 6 p.m., he's scheduled to be on the nationally syndicated "Don & Mike" radio show.

When he leaves Friday for Tampa, he's expected to be on CBS' "The Early Show" in a split-screen shot with Giuliani.

"We're also going to be working it down [in Tampa]," the mayor said.

Whenever he can, O'Malley tries to squeeze in his message that Baltimore is on the rebound, especially with its declining number of homicides and a recent increase in property values. "I'm burned out, I've been saying it so often," he said.

The media are picking up on this message, both in newspapers and on television. CNN Headline News, for instance, was running a brief segment throughout the day yesterday on Baltimore's comeback, including a good dose of speculation about O'Malley's political future.

"The fact that we're in the Super Bowl is a great opportunity to be an economic-development cheerleader as well as a Ravens cheerleader," O'Malley said by phone yesterday afternoon, nearly finished with his day of interviews in New York.

"One of the things that happened after we won in Oakland, I talked with [First Deputy Mayor] Michael Enright on the phone. I said, `Why don't we call the other cities that won the Super Bowl and find out what they wished they had done once the crazy two weeks of the Super Bowl ended?'"

So, last Thursday, after O'Malley brainstormed with his staff, the administration called up Warschawski Public Relations, a Baltimore-based firm, to help maximize the city's moment in the national spotlight. The one-day New York trip was quickly booked, while in Baltimore an advertising firm -- Trahan, Burden & Charles -- helped book the mayor for national radio and television spots.

Both firms are providing their services for free, as are three other outfits in the city: P.W. Feats Inc., Levi Rabinowitz-911 Media Relations and NRC, a local firm run by consultant Nancy Roberts.

The monumental task for O'Malley is giving people a different impression of a city they have come to know for crime.

"Let's face it: Part of what we have to do is recast that image in people's mind," O'Malley said. "Particularly people who control a lot of private investment dollars."

As part of that, O'Malley said, Ravens majority owner Art Modell will be introducing him to corporate bigwigs in Tampa. "All of corporate America goes down there for that game," O'Malley said.

Most of the network types want O'Malley to do what he seems to enjoy most: Gloat like a fan. "Yeah, we've done a little bit of trash-talking," he said. "That's the great thing about the Ravens team. They talk about as much trash as their hometown mayor."

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