ADVERTISING IS PAID FOR AND PUBLIC RELATIONS IS PRAYED FOR!
A sign on the door of a ninth-floor advertising office at famed retailer Carson Pirie Scott & Co. stuck me and stayed with me over the past 43 years. The special events and public relations offices were adjacent to the bustling advertising department and our paths only crossed on a few occasions. The division of these two entities was always the way business was done.
We all worked hard, tirelessly and feverously but our entities were separate operations. We had occasional meetings for a combined promotional meeting or if store executives called meetings for both departments to interact. Coincidentally the newspaper and magazine businesses worked in much the same way. Advertising executives were never involved in the reporting or journalistic side of publishing. When it came to budgets it was like living in a family that had one pot of money and it had to be shared. Often the funding was not equally shared.
Newspaper advertisers were aware of the executive budgets and who in the chain controlled the purse strings. The public relations side of the business was like the younger sister – or one who never got any new clothes. Advertisers did a lot of wine and dining and most often were paid. Those of us in PR had to do a lot of praying. We prayed for good news coverage and a good outcome of a story or news item that we hoped was published in the most favorable way!
Smaller news outlets with weekly publications often lived on advertising revenues to publish their papers. Advertising executives would pay for an ad and the owner of the paper would also run a press release on the same topic. These editors and managers knew what had to be done to keep the business and staff afloat. Sinking or swimming sometimes with sharks was just another day in the media/advertising pool.
In 1977 one of The Eventors first clients was Lytton’s, a department store chain that specialized in mass-produced menswear and was located on State Street in Chicago. Henry C. Lytton founded the store that was nicknamed The Hub and Lytton’s in 1887. The store had an impeccable reputation for fine men’s clothing, ladies’ fashions and an array of merchandise for the discerning shopper. Lytton’s ran daily full-page advertisements in all the Chicago newspapers.
If my memory serves me correctly, a friend in the CPS advertising department introduced me to Mr. William A. Novy, Vice-President of Advertising at Henry C. Lytton’s. As a newly minted business owner it was my delight to meet and become a life-long friend of Bill Novy. A 6” tall, dapper, handsome ivy-league dressed man; Bill exemplified the Lytton-look with Van Heusen and Arrow dress shirts and sometimes corduroy slacks and blazer and always with a perfectly accessorized tie and maybe even suede shoes or always stylish dress shoes. After a career that covered being responsible for the design, layout, look and placement of the Lytton advertisements, Bill was given an event project. Fortunately for me, he needed my help and much to my delight I also got paid!
We were a team like salt and pepper. Bill kept the project, the store executives, vendors and sponsors in line and I ran all of the promotion, public relations and event work. We complimented each other with the perfect mix of advertising, special events and public relations.
The Florida Department of Citrus and the reigning 1978 Citrus Queen, Lisa Maile set their sites on Chicago in one of the most bitter winters on record in history. Being a person who grew up in a circus town and one who loved crowds, blustering winter winds and snowflakes the size of arctic ice sculptures didn’t deter me from taking the Florida Citrus folks outside of the store to greet the passersby with fresh squeezed orange juice. Fortunately, the frozen Chicagoans could see the bright oranges through the snow flurries and agreed to sample our wares.
Bill and I were very successful at these ventures. He got the advertising paid for and my prayers for good coverage paid off.
Bill placed the store advertising that featured Delta Airlines, American Express and the Florida Citrus Board. Delta Airlines and American Express donated fourteen round trips to Florida as part of the incentive for giveaways to Lytton’s customers. I worked the public relations side of the event crafting stories and promoting a Delta airlines stewardess who gave in-store demonstrations and tips for packing for a vacation – hopefully to Florida. We also pitched the idea of purchasing your wardrobe and even the suitcase at Lytton’s.
Caption: My good friend and colleague Judy Moore wrote a wonderful full-page article for the Chicago Sun-Times about Traveling Light with Delta Airlines.
A column mention from Peg Zwecker was also of value to the overall promotion.