Barack Obama’s deployment of social media charted a sea change for political campaigns in its departure from the past half-century’s preoccupation with television and radio and the even earlier candidates’ dependency upon print advertising and direct mail.
Today NewmanPR clients are almost exclusively within the hospitality arena — mainly destination and maritime industries. However, in prior years local, state and even national political candidates were a significant factor in our business model.
In my third year I set a record as the only PR practitioner in a single local election to claim four losing candidates — a judge, state’s attorney, school board member and a constable. This dubious distinction was lost the following year with a media relations campaign that propelled a little-known underdog, Dante Fascell, to victory over a highly vested incumbent in a race for U..S Congress.
One memorable event we orchestrated featured the candidate as the first to campaign by helicopter, which in the early 1950s was considered quite innovative. Fascell, who campaigned 24/7, topped the highly favored incumbent by just 485 votes and went on to a 38-year congressional career.
Through the years we scored more than a few victories including a one-time tap dancer who, when elected mayor of Miami Beach, proclaimed, “I have reached the pinochle of my career!”
Another successful political client who also became Miami Beach’s mayor was the late Elliott Roosevelt. More often than not, senior voters were inclined to identify him with his father. One elderly lady was overheard telling her friend, “He was a wonderful president who brought us social security so he’ll make a wonderful mayor.”
We did nothing to discourage this, of course, including among other strategies a citywide mailing utilizing 3 cent postage stamps bearing FDR’s image. This gained even more attention when his incumbent opponent unwisely complained to media that, “Roosevelt’s PR consultant is employing unfair tactics by using President Roosevelt stamps on their mailings.”
When it comes to political PR scores, we’ll take ’em where we can get ’em — even from opponents.