TroyBot Press Conference. Photo by Erin Pihlaja

Author, PR Pro Leads 2-day Course Geared Toward Community Builders & Small Business

MANHATTAN (02/27/17) — A PR professional who helped put a small Hudson River city back on the map is teaching a two-day course at FlowerSchool New York on “The Art of Small City PR & Making Spectacle,” geared toward small business owners, small city advocates and community stakeholders.

“Not long ago, the small American city where I live, Troy, N.Y., had a not-so-nice nickname: ‘The Troylet.’ The place had a PR problem. It had a lot of problems, but bad PR was holding us back,” said Duncan Crary, a media consultant and personality. “Now the place is hopping, and even the ‘New York City People’ are trying to get in on the action.”

During the past decade, Crary has worked to recast his upstate city in a positive light through scores of media stories appearing in big and small outlets, including NBC News, The New York Times and The New York Daily News. Politico‘s Jimmy Vielkind called him a “publicity artist,” while Joanne Kaufmann of The Wall Street Journal dubbed him “a gregarious public-relations consultant” and “Troy tub-thumper.” His commentary on urbanism has earned the praise of Freaknonomics‘ Stephen Dubner and The Columbia Journalism Review. Closer to home, The Albany Business Review pronounced him “Troy’s Other Mayor,” while Paul Grondahl, Albany’s preeminent reporter, described Crary as a “ginger-haired impresario, who has brought all manner of merriment and boosterish shenanigans to the Collar City.”

Now the seasoned media mirth-maker is sharing his process in a seminar-style class this March 30 & 31 that aims to help students combine 21st century social technology with old fashioned marketing techniques to revitalize their community. The targeted audience includes small business owners, Business Improvement Districts (BID), Chamber of Commerce employees, economic development professionals, developers and other stakeholders.

Crary said the takeaway from this course is not limited to those who live, work or play in small cities, however, because even within larger, prosperous places there are underutilized neighborhoods, districts or blocks in need of genuine cheerleading. Most of the strategies and tools he will share will benefit any small business, as well, to help distinguish themselves from their corporate chain competitors.

Crary will include case studies from real life, such as the “Mall-ternative” campaign he helped craft with the Downtown Troy Business Improvement District to inspire thousands of holiday shoppers, year after year, to choose the urban boutiques and streets of Troy over the enclosed shopping malls and parking lots of suburbia. He will explain, with great enthusiasm, many of the spectacles he has orchestrated over the years to charm reporters and their readers alike, resulting in memorable stories shared through mainstream and social media.

“The most successful press events I’ve organized are low-budget, endearing spectacles that feel like Middle School theater productions put on by adults in the street,” Crary said. “These are simple displays that communicate a message that stays with you: ‘This place has heart,’ or ‘This business is so creative’ or ‘That’s hilarious, I want to go see that.’”


Good PR, authentic PR, is an art, not a science, Crary said, but there are many tools and easy-to-learn formulas to turn anyone into a competent communications pro.

During the course, Crary will teach students the ability to mentally “paginate” and frame events before they happen by reverse engineering great media coverage.

“Great story telling has always been about good pictures and good words,” Crary said. “Twitter, Instagram, Facebook…. they haven’t changed the fundamentals of communication. When everyone has moved on to the next thing in social media, effective communication will still be about good pictures and good words.”

In spite of what many of his professional peers claim, Crary will make the case that the press release is not dead, and, in fact, reports of its death were greatly exaggerated. And contrary to popular belief (tl;dr), modern humans are capable of paying attention to content that is longer than 140 characters or 3 seconds of film.


Whether the objective is to attract tourists, or developers, residents or customers, Crary said people are either motivated by necessity or rewards, but not punishment.

“If they have a choice, no one is going to patronize your store — or move to your busted up city — because you badger them about their obligation to do so,” Crary said. “If you reward them, they will come. If you provide a positive experience, they’ll be back.”


Eat Crow PartyPart of what has made the Troy, N.Y. “Renaissance” so exciting is the willingness of the shopkeepers, the denizens, the institutions

and the politicians to work and play together to positive ends, Crary said.

“Lately, downtown Troy feels like one big party that everyone is invited to,” Crary said. “It’s important for everyone in the community to be ‘in on it’.”

Some of Crary’s most memorable spectacles have included a full-blown courthouse mock trial to determine who really wrote the famous poem ‘”Twas the Night Before Christmas” (which was published anonymously for the first time ever by the Troy Sentinel newspaper), and an annual festival of red haired people complete with a mayoral proclamation dubbing Troy, N.Y. “Ginger City, USA.


Crary will also encourage students to mine local history for quirky marketing and event ideas, while illustrating his point with several off-the-wall examples like an “everyone eats crow party” and a history pub crawl dedicated to “Bad Boys, Broads & Bootleggers.”


“The Art of Small City PR & Making Spectacle” will be held at FlowerSchool New York, located at 213 West 14th Street, New York, on March 30 & 31, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days. The cost is $550. To register online, visit:


For high resolution photos of Duncan Crary, visit the following dropbox link:


In 2009, Duncan Crary founded a self-titled boutique public relations firm, Duncan Crary Communications, that strives to make big news for small entrepreneurs. He is best-known as the host of The KunstlerCast, a weekly podcast featuring best-selling author and urban commentator James Howard Kunstler (“The Geography of Nowhere,” “The Long Emergency” and “World Made By Hand”). After more than 250 episodes of that program, Crary authored the book “The KunstlerCast: Conversations with James Howard Kunstler… the tragic comedy of suburban sprawl,” (New Society Publishers, 2011). His website is


Located in the heart of New York City, FlowerSchool New York is the leader in floral design instruction and is the most prestigious school to begin your education and exploration of contemporary floral design. FlowerSchool New York is dedicated to celebrating great floral design and designers.

FlowerSchool NY is expanding its course offerings to small business training with an aim to to support recent graduates in their endeavors as floral entrepreneurs as well as other local small businesses. FlowerSchool New York is licensed by Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision (BPSS), overseen by New York State Board of Education.

For information, call (212) 661-8074, email [email protected] or visit:

CONTACT Duncan Crary, (518) 274-2723 [email protected]