First Amendment is centerpiece of dollars 5 million nonprofit campaign

WASHINGTON, DC: Criticized the government lately? Or spoken out against one of the presidential candidates? Who hasn't? But the right to speak without government interference or censorship - better known as the First Amendment - is about to become the centerpiece of a three-year, dollars 5 million marketing campaign, which includes a prominent PR component.

WASHINGTON, DC: Criticized the government lately? Or spoken out against one of the presidential candidates? Who hasn't? But the right to speak without government interference or censorship - better known as the First Amendment - is about to become the centerpiece of a three-year, dollars 5 million marketing campaign, which includes a prominent PR component.

WASHINGTON, DC: Criticized the government lately? Or spoken out against one of the presidential candidates? Who hasn't? But the right to speak without government interference or censorship - better known as the First Amendment - is about to become the centerpiece of a three-year, dollars 5 million marketing campaign, which includes a prominent PR component.

The Media Institute, a nonprofit research foundation that specializes in communications policy, will be holding a press conference on October 31 to launch The Cornerstone Project, a public awareness and education program to celebrate the First Amendment. A PR agency is being sought to handle the task.

The project is sponsored by four groups that have the biggest commercial stake in freedom of speech: the American Association of Advertising Agencies, National Association of Broadcasters, Newspaper Association of America and Magazine Publishers of America.

TMI vice president Rick Kaplar said: 'There are so many threats to the First Amendment; it's being nibbled away in so many ways. We want to remind people that we have this treasure that protects all kinds of media speakers and has contributed to the fantastic media in this country, (allowing us) to receive information from so many sources.'

He continued: 'This is not intended to be an 'inside the Beltway' campaign. We want this to be a more general public education effort where people come to realize that they shouldn't take the First Amendment for granted.'

Kaplar said there are plans to hire a PR firm, but have not done so yet. He hopes that some agencies, especially those associated with large advertising shops, will donate services.

The PR campaign will be primarily media relations - talk show appearances, feature articles, op-ed pieces and editorial meetings - but also promotion of a conference and book launch, scheduled for spring 2001 in Washington, DC. Fund-raising is also a component of The Cornerstone Project, as well as recruitment of more corporate sponsors. Plans are under way to do a traveling exhibit to libraries.



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