MADD turns 20 with a rally and minority PR program

DALLAS: Trumpeting the impact of PR in its successes to date, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Wednesday with a rally and news conference on the Capitol steps.

DALLAS: Trumpeting the impact of PR in its successes to date, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Wednesday with a rally and news conference on the Capitol steps.

DALLAS: Trumpeting the impact of PR in its successes to date, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Wednesday with a rally and news conference on the Capitol steps.

One of the most effective advocacy groups in recent history, MADD is taking the unusual step of releasing survey data from a recent MADD/General Motors Gallup poll at the DC rally.

'MADD shows the power of grass-roots activism and media advocacy,' said Tresa Hardt, the group's director of PR. 'Part of MADD's effectiveness from the beginning was to bring victims' stories to the forefront. We put personal faces on the tragedy.'

Bill Bronrott, a Bethesda, MD-based pro who works closely with MADD, added that the proof of the group's effectiveness is in the numbers. In 1980, over 29,000 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes. In 1999, the number dipped below 16,000.

MADD emerged in 1980 when Bronrott, then press secretary to Maryland congressman Michael Barnes, sought to publicize legislation that would withhold Federal highway dollars from states with weak drunk-driving laws.

Activist Candace Lightner, who founded the organization, and a mother whose infant daughter became a quadriplegic following an alcohol-related crash, appeared at the group's first press conference.

As MADD evolved, it staged public awareness campaigns such as 'Designate a Driver,' which promoted the idea that it's okay for partygoers to enjoy a few drinks if one person remains sober and does the driving. The group's first successes included the passage of tougher drunk driving laws.

MADD's current PR goal is to make further inroads in the Hispanic and African-American communities. The Washington meeting will feature Univision TV personality Maribel Rodriguez on a panel examining how best to reach the ethnic media. It will also address the group's current legislative dogfight with alcohol and hospitality industries over legislation reducing the legal drunk-driving threshold to .08.



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