PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: PCRM - milk does a body not so good

WASHINGTON: Looking for a PR challenge? How about this: convince an

entire city that milk is bad, so much so that the mayor of that city -

an erudite, respected, bow-tie wearing man - publicly turns his back on

the stuff.

Oh yeah, and you have two weeks in which to do it.

Sound impossible? Well it's been done, which is why we are bestowing a

PR Play of the Week on the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

(PCRM). In just two weeks, this nonprofit health group used its media

and PR smarts to run the National Dairy Council (NDC) and its 'Got

Milk?' campaign out of the nation's capital.

DC Mayor Anthony Williams' office announced in April that he would

proclaim May 11 'Drink Chocolate Milk Day' and pose for photos with a

chocolate milk mustache. Harmless enough, right? Not to the PMRC.

'Milk increases the risk of ovarian cancer, heart disease,

juvenile-onset diabetes, anemia, allergies, and other chronic problems,'

said PCRM president and founder Neal Barnard. 'And they were promoting

the highest sugar form of milk. We had no choice but to play a strong

media card.'

That meant press conferences held directly outside the mayor's office,

strong visuals and powerful anti-slogans ('Got Diarrhea?' being a

particularly memorable example). Major stories appeared in The

Washington Post, The Washington Times and the local City Paper.

As of May 8, the mayor's office had dropped its plans and changed its

tune. 'We don't do proclamations for anything of controversy,' said a

spokesperson. When asked for a list of those who suddenly made milk a

thing of controversy, the spokesperson gave an impressively short

answer: 'PCRM.'

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