While some of the nation’s most gifted communicators are numbered among North America’s public relations ranks, there’s a common lack of consensus as far as defining their profession.

Shortly after opening my office in 1946 I visited my grandmother who was vacationing at a Miami Beach hotel. I was introduced to a number of her contemporaries, one of whom, after my departure, asked “Well, you have a lovely grandson but what does he do?”

“He’s in public relations,” my grandmother replied proudly.

“Sounds important, but exactly what does he do,” her friend persisted.

Scratching her head, my grandmother replied, “I think he gets little things in the newspapers.”

And even today that is at least part of our client responsibilities, although we prefer to call it “media relations.”

However, the functions of NewmanPR, which we broadly define as public relations marketing, go far beyond the media relations discipline.

A classic example is a program we developed for a small Miami car rental company, Yellow Rent A Car, the forerunner of a 5,500-car fleet that became Greyhound Rent A Car.

Until the early 1960s, almost all car rentals were based on a daily fee plus a per-mile charge with the customer being reimbursed for any gasoline purchases. When the client asked for ideas to help stimulate business and increase the 200-vehicle fleet, our agency proposed the concept of a fixed weekly rental fee with no mileage charge. The company’s owner provided the final part of the equation by offering a full tank of gas with the customer returning the car in the same fashion.

The unlimited free mileage plan not only pleased customers, but provided a platform for extensive media coverage in travel and business publications and eventually was adopted by most of the car rental industry.

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