WASHINGTON: By this spring, Americans will be hearing a lot more on the often-overlooked French and Indian War thanks to a PR campaign being backed by both the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and the recently formed nonprofit group French and Indian War 250.
The strategy was conceived after other localities scored some recent PR successes by marking other historical events. For instance, recent commemorative events for the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight and the journey of legendary American explorers Lewis & Clark have demonstrated that historical events can be used as tourism draws, explained Michael Fulton, an EVP with Golin/ Harris International.
About two-and-a-half years ago, the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce hired Golin to help lay the groundwork for a commemoration of the war's 250th anniversary this year. The chamber hoped to drive tourists to battle sites and other historical locations related to the war, which took place from 1754 to 1763.
Since Golin was hired, $30 million in donations have been raised, and French and Indian War 250 was formed.
Golin is boosting PR efforts, holding an event at last week's national governors' conference in Washington, at which 20 governors signed a memo of understanding to promote awareness of the war's historic sites.
"It's like a snowball going downhill. It's going rapidly and it's gaining momentum," said Fulton, who is overseeing the PR effort.
A kickoff event is being planned in Pittsburgh for the weekend of April 16 to further focus attention on the war, perhaps best known to American moviegoers as the conflict portrayed in The Last of the Mohicans.
Golin is handling government relations, PR, and events management for the French and Indian War effort. Another firm will be handling PR for a $14 million PBS film being prepared for showing in the fall of 2005, Fulton said.
PR efforts will include outreach to educators across the country. Media relations is reaching out to travel and tourism publications. Government relations efforts include trying to secure funding from Congress and others.
The chamber is spending about $120,000 a year with Golin on the project, Fulton said.
The French and Indian War was fought in colonial North America between Great Britain and France in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. They were actually part of a worldwide struggle for imperial supremacy between the world's strongest powers at the time.