The White House Historical Association is a charitable nonprofit institution whose purpose is to enhance the understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the White House. In September 2000, with the 200th anniversary of the White House quickly approaching, the White House Historical Association retained Powell Tate to promote the milestone.
The White House Historical Association sought logistical and creative support for events surrounding the Nov. 1 anniversary as well as media counsel and outreach for the events and the 200th anniversary.
To leverage the 200th anniversary events to generate awareness of the anniversary, enthusiasm and appreciation for the history of the White House.
An informal search of media stories showed that very little had been written about the 200th anniversary of the White House and that few Americans knew about the milestone.
PLANNING – THE STRATEGY
Powell Tate quickly developed a press strategy that leveraged the 200th anniversary events to generate awareness of the anniversary, enthusiasm and appreciation for the history of the White House.
These events included a presentation ceremony for a new commemorative White House postage stamp; a reception and book signing for The White House: Its Furnishing and First Families by Betty Monkman, the White House curator; a re-enactment of the arrival of President John Adams on Nov. 1, 1800 at the White House, a gala dinner at the White House and a symposium with White House historians and scholars on Nov. 14, 15 and 16.
PLANNING - EXECUTION
Powell Tate first developed a press kit that highlighted historical White House milestones, presidential firsts, and background on President John Adams, the first White House occupant. Powell Tate distributed the kit to targeted reporters and worked with the media to develop story angles and features on the White House. For each media outlet, Powell Tate developed creative angles and feature ideas to keep the story fresh and new. Story ideas ranged from “What artifacts are missing in the White House?” to First Ladies’ fondest memories of the White House.
Powell Tate also served as the liaison with the media to ensure they had access to photos, information, and spokespeople. Since the majority of people around the world were not aware of this milestone, Powell Tate distributed a press release and called feature and lifestlye editors directly at the top 30 news outlets in the U.S., as well as each of the D.C. bureaus of foreign media outlets.
Powell Tate worked with the White House Historical Association to officially kick off the celebration with an event at the White House Visitor Center in conjunction with the Postal Service to issue a commemorative stamp of the White House. Powell Tate provided logistical and media support for the event securing seven television crews, including NBC, CBS, ABC National and CNN, to cover the stamp issuance. To raise media and public interest in the stamp event, Powell Tate sent a picture of the anniversary stamp to Good Morning America, which aired it that morning. More than 100 stamp collectors, visitors and media attended.
Powell Tate continued to work with the White House Historical Association to manage logistics and media outreach for the month-long celebration. Before and after each event, Powell Tate arranged special interviews with White House Historical Association spokespeople and White House staff with high-profile media outlets, such as The New York Times, Good Morning America, and FOX News.
The campaign generated millions of impressions and included feature coverage in every major newspaper including USA Today, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. More than 1,000 broadcast hits were generated including placements on CNN, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Good Morning America, Newshour with Jim Lehrer, and a Dan Rather feature on CBS Evening News. C-SPAN featured the symposium on its Web site and aired all three days of the symposium live.