This Month in PR History

By: Jeff Rodriguez, GFW PRSA Historian

August 1968: There is no sure-fire way to win a Presidential election. But there is a pretty reliable method for losing one, and it was clearly demonstrated 50 years ago this month when Democrats gathered in Chicago to nominate their Presidential candidate. Conventions are supposed to help bring the party together, but this one was a political — and PR — disaster.

To be fair, 1968 was a tough year for everyone. MLK and Robert Kennedy both had been assassinated, and the Vietnam War was tearing apart both the country and the Democrats. Many delegates arrived in Chicago angry at the party, and they were joined by an “army of protesters” outside. Nervous city officials responded by surrounding the convention hall with steel fence and barbed wire, and the main doors were bulletproofed. As CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite said, the hall resembled a police state.

Most people have heard about the “riot” instigated by the Chicago Police; on August 28, tempers flared and the cops began clubbing protestors, journalists, even passers-by — “unrestrained and indiscriminate police violence,” as an investigation later reported. The media — those still standing — covered much of it. The New York Times called it a “pitched battle,” Newsweek called it “The Battle of Chicago” and The Washington Post called it “an atmosphere of hatred.”

But for Democrats, the scene inside the hall was just as significant. Angry delegates booed and yelled at each other and at least one delegate, with cameras rolling, was forcibly removed by security officers. Then when NBC’s Dan Rather attempted to interview the delegate, he was grabbed and pushed down, bringing a new definition to the idea of “on the ground reporting.” And when a Senator spoke out against the police violence, Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley was seen on camera yelling something he later claimed was “You faker.”

There is disagreement about how much long-term damage the convention did to the Democrats, but here are two telling stats. First, in 1964, LBJ won 61 percent of the vote; four years later, Hubert Humphrey got less than 43 percent. Second, while Democrats had won eight of the 12 previous elections, they lost seven of the next 12. Probably not the best metrics.

No doubt the Democrats who gathered in Chicago that summer were hoping for some “in-conventional” thinking, but the riots and inner conflict were a bit more than they had bargained for. And as every PR pro knows, if you want to beat an adversary, the first step is to not beat on each other.

Join us for our next GFW PRSA luncheon on Wednesday, August 8, at Colonial Country Club!

Reaching diverse, segmented audiences is often among the most challenging work for PR professionals. Without the resources to reach minority communities, PR professionals need exceptional strategy and tactics.

Kimberly Sims and Shannon McCord work in the communications and public involvement department at the North Texas office of HNTB Corporation, an employee-owned infrastructure solutions firm serving public and private owners and contractors. They will share their knowledge and past successes in penetrating hard-to-reach, diverse target audiences.

When: Wednesday, August 8, 2018 11:30 AM  – 1:00 PM

Where: Colonial Country Club 

Register here.

Summer Happy Hour

Beat the Texas heat at Greater Fort Worth Chapter of PRSA’s Summer Happy Hour! Join us at Off The Record West on Magnolia on Thursday, July 26, from 5:30-7 p.m., for a refreshing drink and great company. Attendees will be entered to win a free Worthy Awards entry (value of $75-100). The cost is $5 per person (appetizers included).

When: Thursday, July 26, 2018 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Central Time

Where: Off The Record West

Register here.

PRSA July Luncheon

You developed and executed a successful communications campaign. The client loved it, the media was all over it, and – best of all – you far exceeded your performance goals. Yet it didn’t make the cut at the Worthy Awards. What went wrong?

Carol Murray, APR, marketing communications manager for Blue Zones Project – Fort Worth, will discuss the critical components of an award-winning entry and share what went into “The Superpowers Campaign,” last year’s Best of Show winner at the Worthy Awards. Then hear some dos and don’ts gleaned from judging other chapters’ award entries.

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

Where: 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.