PR Beyond the Glam

Lee Kravetz, Senior Account Supervisor at LCI, here.

I used to work with a man who made a habit of coming into my office and asking, “Who are we going to make famous today?”

“Take your pick,” I’d say, referring to any number of authors, CEO’s, television producers or actors on my PR plate.

Fame, glamour and glitz. It’s certainly part of the PR biz. (You can call “business” “biz” when you’re in the “biz.”) Film premieres, celebrities, cocktails, schmoozing. PR is about crafting and leveraging public perception (who you know and who knows you), and as a PR professional certainly one of the perks is getting to be a part of the whole experience.

Every so often, though, I’m treated to something that’s, well, just so much more grounded. It reminds me that, at the end of the day, good PR isn’t always about the ether of public perception; it’s about telling and celebrating your story.

This past week, my attention was turned to the Blind Babies Foundation. Landis Communications Inc. joined the Foundation, one of its non-profit clients, in kicking off its 60th anniversary with a blowout gala at the top of the swank Westin St. Francis hotel. There was an auction (I bid on a week in a San Diego beach house…alas, my $60 came in a bit short), dancing, even a local celebrity or two to help celebrate six decades of working with families of blind children in the Bay Area. Of course, there was media coverage (after all, that’s my job.) Mayor Newsom even signed a proclamation on behalf of the Foundation.

But what stood out far more than anything else for me was the guest list of 250-plus that made up 60 years of support. Seated at the tables that evening were vision impairment specialists, former clients, board members and staff. Jim Gammon, who is blind and is one of the Foundation’s first clients, shook hands with old friends. Julie Bernas-Pierce, the Foundation’s Executive Director, chatted up Dr. Bill Good, a neonatologist who has helped assist thousands of Blind Babies Foundation clients. Vision impairment specialists spoke about visiting new parents of blind children before the hospitals discharge them, as well as accompanying families of blind children on medical visits.

The value of public relations is universal, but PR for mission-driven organizations is different from traditional business-to-consumer PR (or “B2C” for those in the “biz”). The Blind Babies Foundation, like many mission-driven organizations, stands out in my mind because public perception takes on a different significance. That is, a mention of the 60th Anniversary Gala in USA Today comes in second to the people that the Foundation is celebrating.

Sometimes we get to trade the superficial for the real, for the genuine, and that is my favorite kind of PR.

On to the LCI buzz-worthy tips of the week:

  • Check out “Night Life” at the California Academy of Sciences every Thursday night through October 29th. The Academy is transformed into a lively venue filled with music, provocative science, mingling, and cocktails, for visitors 18 and older. http://www.calacademy.org/events/nightlife/
  • If you can’t make a pilgrimage to the Mission for burritos, try the next best thing at Nopalito (306 Broderick St), NOPA’s little sister. This new restaurant offers a menu focused on authentic Mexican fare that’s a bit more upscale but worth the price. http://nopalitosf.com/

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1 Comment

  1. david Reply

    Lee:

    I agree with you. Mission-based PR is great, but I also love helping all businesses utilize PR to grow – and in this economy, that’s a laudable mission, too! Cheers, David