Project Description

The USC Shoah Foundation

The USC Shoah Foundation, an organization founded by Steven Spielberg dedicated to making audiovisual interviews with survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides, was hosting their annual Ambassadors for Humanity Gala in Detroit and planned to honor Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford with its 2015 award. The potential for negative press and community perception was high as issues from the past could resurface during the preparations for the event. A proactive, positive media and community relations campaign was needed to help prevent negative stories and backlash.

To coordinate local and regional media and community relations, the Los Angeles-based USC Shoah Foundation turned to metro Detroit-based Marx Layne & Company to coordinate and facilitate local media coverage of the event, its education component and the rationale behind Bill Ford’s honor as Ambassador for Humanity. Our agency also was tasked with researching, identifying and coordinating outreach to key influencers and stakeholders with the goal of individual and group table sales. This list included some of metro Detroit’s wealthiest individuals.

Marx Layne arranged and participated in a Detroit area media tour for the management of the USC Shoah Foundation. This tour included high profile appearances on NAME with Chuck Stokes, WDET and a one-on-one interview for the Executive Director with Tom Walsh, then-business columnist with the Detroit Free Press. Foundation officials informed us the Walsh column on the event generated significant awareness and resulted in increased ticket sales. This strategic media placement, along with many others, included comments from local key influencers which resonated within the Detroit philanthropic community, facilitating awareness and ultimately ticket sales.

Our team also distributed and staffed a news conference at the event announcing the Foundation’s commitment to education and partnership with Ford Motor Company, which included legendary director Steven Spielberg. The news conference was covered by every media outlet in Detroit. Additionally, our team was on-site for the entire event, coordinating continuing media coverage and attendees, arranging photo coverage with a team of photographers and overseeing a videographer editing and forwarded b roll during the event.

Media coverage and overall buzz on the event was outstanding. The event sold out weeks before the actual event, and was one of the largest fundraisers in the organization’s history. A total of 33 media placements were generated, including national and international coverage. The Associated Press picked up the story and approximately 190 media outlets published the article. Coverage was overall positive on Bill Ford’s award, with the messaging reflecting the future, rather than the past.

USC Shoah Foundation was effusive in its praise of our team. Marx Layne was complimented for its efficiency, professionalism, and willingness to go above and beyond to meet the ever-changing needs as events were in progress. Equally important, the Foundation had extreme confidence in our capabilities and professionalism, and felt they never had to worry about any details under our purview.

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