PR helps politico bridge racial gap

BALTIMORE: PR knew no racial boundaries in the successful campaign waged by city councilman Martin O’Malley in Baltimore’s September 14th Democratic mayoral primary.

BALTIMORE: PR knew no racial boundaries in the successful campaign waged by city councilman Martin O’Malley in Baltimore’s September 14th Democratic mayoral primary.

BALTIMORE: PR knew no racial boundaries in the successful campaign

waged by city councilman Martin O’Malley in Baltimore’s September 14th

Democratic mayoral primary.



Indeed, O’Malley’s communications tactics could serve as a blueprint for

effectively targeting a new audience while remaining true to an

established one.



A white politician running in a city where two-thirds of citizens are

black, O’Malley stressed to his communications team that the traditional

political technique of targeting appeals by race was to be jettisoned,

repeatedly telling voters that ’there is more to unite us than to divide

us.’



He talked tough on crime, but balanced that appeal by emphasizing that

new jobs need to be created and drug users need treatment. In the end,

he won 53% of the vote against two politically established black

opponents.



O’Malley, a city councilman who represents a racially diverse district,

hired a diverse campaign staff. He frequently met with black community

leaders, such as State Sen. Joan Carter Conway, and held a series of

outdoor press events designed to portray him as the ’street corner’

candidate.



Commercials with white supporters such as Maryland Comptroller William

Donald Schaefer were played on stations with heavy black audiences,

while endorsements from black leaders aired on stations with a

predominantly white viewership.



The tactics won over the toughest audiences. Though Baltimore Sun

columnist Michael Olesker suggested that the racial diversity featured

in O’Malley’s TV ads was ’about as spontaneous as brain surgery,’ he

conceded that the O’Malley message was indeed ’genuine ... If you

believe we share fundamental problems that transcend race, then here is

your candidate.’



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