CLEVELAND: John Kerry's' selection of John Edwards as his running mate this week produced an early PR bonus for Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, the site of the planned October 5 vice presidential candidate debate.
Weber Shandwick's Minneapolis office, which has been working with the university as a client since May 2003, swung into high gear the morning of the announcement.
The five-person team responsible for garnering national media attention for the debate site had been anticipating an announcement.
"I woke up that morning and I checked the news and said 'Oh God, we've got to go,' " says Randy Sands, SVP and head of the team.
Weber put out a media alert by 9 am that morning saying it had a Case political science professor who could comment on southern politics, getting that person coverage on CNN and NPR, Sands said.
It also created B-roll with Case student reaction to the Edwards selection.
Between now and the debate, Weber is targeting 20 national media outlets to convey the Case story, Sands said.
It also will publicize events planned on campus the week of the debate such as Case-apolooza, an open forum to discuss issues on the day of the debate.
"We will tell the Case story," Sands said. "Every time there's a hiccup in the news (about the presidential campaign), we're trying to capitalize on that."