Sunday, August 09, 2009

Does the Convention Center Billing Controversy Blow Back on the Successful Effort against English Only?

Last week's mess regarding public relations firm McNeely, Pigott, & Fox and their overbilling of work for MDHA and Metro government--including co-writing speeches for the Mayor and columns for the Tennessean--got me wondering about Nashville for All of Us. The Public Relations Society of America awarded "Nashville for All of Us with McNeely, Pigott, & Fox" a Silver Anvil in public affairs for "changing the outcome" of the referendum on Eric Crafton's English Only.

As someone who has been fighting against English Only since Crafton pitching it around 2006, I would say that there are a lot of people both inside and outside "Nashville for All of Us" who can take pride in changing the outcome of the 2009 referendum. So I take the reason for the award with a grain of salt without denying the role MP&F played in, as they describe it, "providing messaging, media, communications and materials" for the movement against Crafton.

But the recent enmeshment between MP&F with the Mayor's office, MDHA, and the media regarding the proposal to build a new convention center makes me wonder how much separation there actually was between the PR firm and the Nashville for All of Us. It looks like these awards are won tandemly with PR firms either in tow or coordinating the group's message. So it seems that coalitions do not win Silver Anvils without hiring (or being created by?) PR firms.

I guess I am curious about how much time MP&F spent writing prominent speeches against English Only (including the Mayor's). I would also like to know where that Silver Anvil award resides. If there is a separate Nashville for All of Us office is it there? Or is it sitting at MP&F even though their press release says that they accepted it on behalf of the coalition? Nashville for All of Us was touted as a grassroots group. I guess I'm interested in knowing whether that was really the case, or it was more of a top-down proposition than we might have been lead to believe.

Finally, excuse me for asking, but I would be remiss if I didn't do so now with news that MP&F coached a Tennessean columnist and that the City Paper appears on MP&F's bills to Metro five times on behalf of the Music City Center. A Nashville City Paper reporter won a journalists' award for coverage of English Only. Did the PR firm coach him during their efforts against English Only, too?

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