It’s All His Fault: January PR History

Written by: Jeff Rodriguez, Historian

January 11, 1908 was a big day in public relations – as big as the Grand Canyon. In fact, it was the day the Canyon was designated as a national monument.

Strolling around today in our North Face jackets and Merrell hikers, the designation might not seem like such a big deal. But the idea of making the Grand Canyon a National Park had been considered – and despised – for years. In the 1880s, an Arizona newspaper had written an editorial expressing the popular sentiment of the locals, explaining that “whoever fathered such an idea must have been suckled by a sow and raised by an idiot.”

Enter President Teddy Roosevelt. Only Congress has the authority to create a National Park, so pig-suckling Teddy craftily found a way to designate the area as a National Monument. “Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is,” he once said the area. “You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for … all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see. #bullypulpit #visitourgiftshop.”

Congress finally designated the area a National Park in 1919, and today, the park is visited each year by more than 6 million people, many of whom even get out of their car. And Roosevelt’s legacy is secure: The nonpartisan Miller Center at the University of Virginia calls Teddy “the nation’s first conservationist President,” not to mention the driving force behind the Build-A-Bear corporation.

Which just goes to show, PR pros always need to be ready to think big. And when all the naysayers are telling you to take a hike, well, go right ahead.

Join us for our next GFW PRSA luncheon on Wednesday, November 14, at Colonial Country Club!

As a relatively new frontier, digital is a discipline that has generally been left to specialists. However, we’re not always lucky enough to have one of these specialists on hand when a prospect or client asks questions or indicates an interest in exploring this realm. As digital tactics and strategies become more integrated, if not inseparable, from PR and communications, the ability to talk digital is more important than ever. In this presentation, Jim Lin (Partner/SVP, Ketchum Digital) will share relevant points and best practices on digital tactics that brands and organizations are asking about today. With this knowledge, you will become dangerous enough to get your client or prospect to the next meeting, when you can bring a specialist into the room to take it the rest of the way.

When: Wednesday, November 14, 2018, 11:30 AM  – 1:00 PM

Where: Colonial Country Club 

Register here.

Wanna Get Away? October PR History

When the going gets tough, the tough get going – on a taxpayer-subsidized vacation. And that’s exactly what the executives at insurance giant AIG did in September 2008, when they flew out for a relaxing vacation at the swanky St. Regis hotel in southern California. And boy, did they need it: Just six days earlier, AIG had received an $85 billion government bailout. Apparently they converted it into traveler’s checks.

To their credit, the AIG execs made the most of their trip, spending a whopping $440,000. The tab included $10,000 in bar bills, $1,400 in salon expenses and $23,000 at the spa, where they racked up thousands of frequent-rubber miles.

AIG’s Most Excellent Vacation hit the media in early October and was a PR disaster. The New York Daily News may have summed it up best with their headline: “AIG big shots get $500G vacations on taxpayers’ dime.” And when it was reported that rooms at the St. Regis ran up to $1,200 a night, one Congressman pointedly remarked, “That’s more than some of my constituents pay on a mortgage payment on homes they’re now losing.”

To their defense, AIG had planned the trip before the bailout. They also tipped generously, spending another $3,000 of (taxpayer) money. And whenever possible, they used a Groupon.

But give AIG credit for being consistent. Just three months before the bailout, they fired the CEO — and gave him a $15 million parachute. And in 2014, another AIG CEO sued the government, complaining that the bailout was not generous enough. Meanwhile, several other executives are still hoping for a lucrative movie deal offer from Oliver Stone.

All of which should help PR pros remember: You never want to have bad optics. But if you do, at least make sure your room has a nice view.

Join us for our GFW PRSA half-day workshop on Wednesday, October 10, at Colonial Country Club!

Improve your pitching success rate and enhance your PR writing with Michael Smart’s PR tips. Learn specific, actionable strategies you can apply immediately to re-charge your media outreach and hone your PR skills at PRSA’s half-day workshop on Wednesday, October 10. The luncheon following the workshop will focus on reaching influencers and journalists in the new media relations landscape.

An independent communications trainer, Smart is regularly among the highest-rated speakers at the industry’s largest conferences. A former newspaper journalist, Michael has won national and regional awards for news release and feature writing.

Schedule:

  • 7:15 a.m. – Master Breakfast
  • 8 a.m. – Seminar Registration/Networking
  • 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. – SMARTer PR Workshop
  • 11:30 a.m. – noon – Luncheon Registration/Networking
  • Noon – 1 p.m. – Luncheon Program

Location:

Colonial Country Club 

Register here.

Join us for our next GFW PRSA luncheon on Wednesday, June 13, at Colonial Country Club!

For the past 25 years, Ruth Fitzgibbons of Richards Partners, the public relations arm of The Richards Group, has been on the front lines with a variety of clients who unexpectedly found themselves in the glaring light of uninvited media scrutiny – at a terrible time. Television cameras on your doorstep are bad, but a Twitter storm may be even worse. This program will offer the 10 Commandments of Crisis Communications (with color commentary from personal experience), plus some best practices and do’s and don’ts with earned and social media.

When: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 11:30 AM  – 1:00 PM
Central Time

Where: Colonial Country Club 

Register here.