Philly calls for army of PR volunteers to handle GOP convention

PHILADELPHIA: With more than 15,000 members of the media expected to descend upon Philadelphia next summer for the Republican National Convention (RNC), local PR leaders and the convention’s organizers have already begun to mobilize a colossal army of communications pros.

PHILADELPHIA: With more than 15,000 members of the media expected to descend upon Philadelphia next summer for the Republican National Convention (RNC), local PR leaders and the convention’s organizers have already begun to mobilize a colossal army of communications pros.

PHILADELPHIA: With more than 15,000 members of the media expected

to descend upon Philadelphia next summer for the Republican National

Convention (RNC), local PR leaders and the convention’s organizers have

already begun to mobilize a colossal army of communications pros.



’There’s no other event that has a media audience as big as a political

national convention,’ said Timothy Fitzpatrick, press secretary for the

2000 RNC. ’This will draw all network and cable news outlets, and set a

new standard for online coverage.’



Sue Schwenderman, a tourism PR veteran in charge of media relations for

Philadelphia 2000, estimates she will need 2,500 PR volunteers to handle

the media. That’s a lofty goal, since (according to estimates) combined

membership of the eight communications associations is less than 1,000.

There may be up to 1,000 more practitioners in the area, but motivating

them to support the RNC may prove difficult.



The 50 PR and advertising leaders of local agencies, corporations and

civic organizations who comprise the ’Marketing Philadelphia to the

Media’ committee face a similarly daunting challenge. Tasks that need to

be accomplished well in advance of the convention, which begins on July

29, include producing a delegate and media guide, organizing more than

10,000 volunteers and developing an online media room.



Phyllis Polk, PR coordinator for Philadelphia’s office of the city

representative, was among those who worked for the city’s last major

political event, the 1979 vice presidential debate between George Bush

and Geraldine Ferraro.



’This will be an extraordinary experience for anyone in PR,’ she

said.



’The media horde will be here for up to three weeks and, unless Senator

McCain pulls a real upset, there’s little hard news surrounding a known

outcome. It’s up to us to fill the void.’



Other pros are more skeptical. ’The potential exists for it to become a

fiasco,’ said Chilton Goebel Jr., a 30-year veteran of Philadelphia

PR.



’I just hope it all works out.’



PR pros willing to volunteer should e-mail sfeldscher@aol. com or

larry.rubin@worldnet.att.net.



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