Annual Event: LULAC focuses on politics to expand forum attendance

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), an organization dedicated to advancing the status of Latinos in America, has been around since the late 1920s, making it one of the nation's oldest civil-rights organizations.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), an organization dedicated to advancing the status of Latinos in America, has been around since the late 1920s, making it one of the nation's oldest civil-rights organizations.

With its 75th annual convention scheduled to take place around Independence Day, the organization made a late decision to increase its PR efforts and brought Bromley on board just two weeks before the event. The agency's challenge was to rapidly rehabilitate LULAC's image as an "old men's club," boost attendance at the convention, and handle media relations surrounding the event.

Strategy

Bromley had one key advantage: The event was actually newsworthy. It was a landmark convention of a prominent organization held in Texas, the President's home state. It featured speeches by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Health & Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, and satellite addresses by George W. Bush and John Kerry. Research showed that both the Republicans and the Democrats would be fiercely vying for the Hispanic vote in the November elections, and the firm used the political angle to attract media attention.

"We wanted to focus on that it was an election year ... and then on all of the guest speakers we had," says Bromley AE Kimberley Jackson, who worked on the campaign along with two colleagues. They targeted English- and Spanish-language outlets in order to reach as many of LULAC's constituents as possible.

Tactics

With a short time frame, Bromley couldn't waste a second. The firm undertook a 10-day media outreach program including PSAs, news alerts, and bios of key participants. It put together a meeting with the editorial board of the San Antonio newspapers and pushed for national placements in order to get picked up across the country. Its press releases in the lead-up to the event emphasized hot issues, such as immigration, which the press was most likely to cover.

To help revitalize the organization's stodgy reputation, the agency strove to place spokespeople that were young and female in TV shots "to sort of change that image, instead of always having a male figure in front of the camera representing LULAC," Jackson says.

A few problems arose in the process, including a change of venue for a "Latin Stars" concert and, more important, a last-minute cancellation by Teresa Heinz Kerry, who backed out of a scheduled speech because it coincided with the announcement of John Edwards' selection as Kerry's running mate. But Bromley's heavily staffed media relations team handled the crisis, and a replacement for Heinz Kerry was quickly arranged. Additionally, Bromley gained some breathing room in the tight budget by securing reduced prices for a wire service, transcripts, and monitoring services, thanks to LULAC's nonprofit status.

Results

"The percentage of increase in media attending and attendance overall was really outstanding," says Jackson. Bromley's efforts helped boost conference attendance by 50%, and credentialed media turnout almost tripled from last year, she says.

"They took charge right away, which is really what we needed," says Lorraine Quiroga, LULAC communications manager. She says the organization was "definitely" satisfied with the media response to the convention. The 15,000 conference attendees included a host of politicians and activists seeking to tune in to the crucial Latino base. Kerry took the overall Hispanic vote in November, but Bush carried Texas with ease.

Future

LULAC plans to work with Bromley again on its 2005 convention, scheduled for late June in Little Rock, AR, says Quiroga. "As of now we don't have a contract with them," says Jackson. "But we have a good relationship with the people we worked with."

PR team: Bromley/MS&L (San Antonio) and the League of United Latin American Citizens (Washington, DC)

Campaign: "LULAC: The Amazing Race"

Time frame: Mid-June to early July 2004

Budget: $12,000

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