PR WEEK AWARDS 2001: Campaign - Political Campaign of the Year 2001. Sponsored by the MWW Group

WINNER 2001

WINNER 2001

WINNER 2001

George Allen (Virginia Senate race vs. Sen. Chuck Robb)

Press Secretary: Tim Murtaugh

Campaign Manager: Chris LaCivita

Media Consultant: Stevens Reed Curcio

Opinion Research: John McLaughlin & Associates

The ease with which George Allen grinned on election night belied the hard work and smart thinking which enabled him to become the only Republican challenger ousting a sitting Democratic senator in the 2000 elections.

His victory is credit not just to his own appeal as a candidate but also the solid work of his campaign's managers and media experts.

Allen left the governorship a few years ago as a popular figure, and combines a Reaganesque ease with a down home manner that has played well so far in Virginia.

However, Allen was matched against another onetime 'boy wonder' incumbent, Chuck Robb. Admittedly, Robb's straight-arrow reputation had taken some tough knocks when unsavory details about his personal life were revealed in the early 1990s, but he was able to withstand a 1994 challenge by Ollie North.

Instead, Allen's campaign team skillfully preyed upon the perception that Robb had lost touch with his constituents. Allen spent a good deal of the summer crisscrossing Virginia on a 'listening tour' that contrasted his informal, engaging manner with that of the more rigid Robb.

That contrast continued to be stressed during the campaign's closing weeks too. In debate, Allen challenged Robb to name some Virginia families who had inspired him to help them in the Senate. Robb demurred, instead ticking off a dry litany of his legislative accomplishments and projects brought home. The very next day, Allen flew across the state, holding press conferences with 'real people in the real world' who testified to the difference that Allen's work as governor - in abolishing parole for convicts and instituting a welfare-to-work program - and educational standards were making in their lives.

Robb's campaign spent the fall fighting Allen with the toughness one would expect from a US Senator who is an ex-Marine. But one of the judges in the PRWeek contest remarked on how well prepared the GOP team was to handle the onslaught: 'They knew Allen's weak spots and were ready with responses that were some of the best I've seen and effectively neutralized the Democratic attacks.' What must make victory satisfying for Allen's team is the fact that they were matched against some of the best professionals the Democratic Party has to offer. But Allen had a first-rate campaign team too, anchored by the GOP media consulting firm Stevens Reed Curcio, John McLaughlin & Associates for survey research, campaign manager Chris LaCivita, and press secretary Tim Murtaugh.

As one judge said, it was 'a model all around effort.'



HONORABLE MENTION

Hillary Clinton (New York Senate race vs Rick Lazio)

Press Secretary: Howard Wolfson

Campaign Manager: Bill DeBlasio

Media Consultant: Grunwald Communications

Opinion Research: Penn, Schoen & Berland

Hillary and her team prove it's not how you start but how you finish that counts. Coming to the Big Apple as a familiar face but also an outsider, Clinton worked hard to connect with New Yorkers, particularly in upstate, where she held plenty of events, targeting local news coverage. Along the way, she managed to change her image from that of a 'shrill' non-New Yorker to 'thoughtful instater.' One judge credited press secretary Howard Wolfson with having 'maintained good relations with the press the entire time' and for being 'able to sell a difficult message to a skeptical media.' Clinton's unrelenting persistence paid off, for eventually enough voters came to believe her message to give her a handsome victory.



Political Campaign of the Year is a new award category

The Award

Designed to recognize the behind-the-scenes consultant firm or communications team which helped to win the election campaign of a public official. As well as ads, the judges paid special attention to the PR strategy and tactics, including research, media relations implementation, plus grassroots and grasstops initiatives.



Finalists 2001

- Senator George Allen with Stevens/Reed/Curcio & Co. and John McLaughlin & Associates

- Senator Maria Cantwell with Struble Oppel Donovan Communications and The Mellman Group

- Senator Jean Carnahan with Shorr & Associates and Garin-Hart-Yang Strategic Research

- Senator Tom Carper with the Campaign Group and Hickman-Brown Research

- Senator Hillary Clinton with Grunwald Communications and Penn, Schoen, Berland Associates

- Rep. Rob Simmons with Wilson Grand Communications and Public Opinion Strategies

- Senator Debbie Stabenow with Laguens Hamburger Stone and Lake, Snell, Perry & Associates



THE MWW GROUP

When it comes to influencing opinion and meeting the bottom line, no one works harder, faster or smarter than The MWW Group. MWW (www.mwwpr.com) is one of the 20 largest public relations firms in the nation with offices in New York; Los Angeles; Washington, DC; Chicago; Seattle; Trenton and East Rutherford, NJ, and a roster of more than 150 clients. We put objectives first, tactics second. We know how to plan. What to research. Where to find paths that no one else has seen. We think strategically. Then implement creatively to find and influence consumers and key decision-makers on Main Street, Wall Street and crucial political capitals.



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