PUBLIC RELATIONS COMMITTEE REPORT
November 18, 1967
Our public relations efforts in NOW’s first year of life have pursued three main goals: 1.) To educate the public and public officials on the prevalence of discrimination based upon sex-with emphasis on the illegality of such discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 2.) To tell the world about NOW as an organization, and to publicize NOW campaigns. 3.) To help create a dignified new image of American women, and to help revise long-established cliches in the communications media that foster “self-denigration, dependence, and evasion of responsibility” among women. We trust that our efforts have achieved some success toward those three goals.
On the whole, NOW has been treated by the press with respect and fairness. Press conferences have been well attended; and although certain newspapers restrict NOW coverage to the woman’s page, most papers carry our stories in the general news section. Thanks to cover- age by Associated Press, NOW has appeared on the front page of many leading American newspapers.
Television and radio have been especially generous, with networks and local stations carrying NOW stories on their top night-time newscasts. The NBC-TV network TODAY show presented a two-hour program on discrimination against women; largely as a result of a NOW memorandum; Betty Friedan appeared on this program with Senator Maurine Neuberger and Dr. Bruno Bettelheim. The NBC radio network then produced a three-program series on the same subject with the same three experts.
This Week magazine carried a three-page picture story about NOW, titled “Sex and Civil Rights,” to its 26 million readers. The National Observer and True magazine did features- the former on page One. Major stories quoting NOW in sex discrimination are currently in the works at five other leading magazines. Although most women’s magazines (Mademoiselle, Vogue; Glamour, McCall’s, Redbook, etc.) have written about NOW, some were critical. (Vogue’s comments might be summarized thus: Girls, why settle for job equality, when it’s more fun to dream about finding a rich husband to support you.)
Local NOW chapters and individual NOW members might profit from this brief summary of NOW’s main news stories thus far:
l) Our organizing conference in Washington. (Local Chapters: How about local publicity when you become an official chapter, or when you elect officers? Good-quality news pictures of your officers should be welcome at the newspapers and TV stations. Ask your radio and TV stations if they’ d like to interview your chapter officers.)
2) NOW’s first press conference, stating its immediate goals. (Local Chapters: Your press conference could reveal your state and local objectives.)
3) NOW’s petition to the EEOC regarding sex-segregated “Help Wanted” ads. (Local Chapters: Any local issues worthy of a NOW-sponsored petition?)
4) A press conference in Washington following meetings between representatives and key Washington officials. (Local Chapters: When you have a solid, newsworthy issue, how about a call on your Mayor, and Governor, perhaps followed by a press conference?)
5) Interviews with prominent men and women who are members of NOW. (Prominent members, don’t be modest. Your local press is interested.)
6) Press conferences following NOW national board meetings in certain cities.
7) Press conferences and news releases expressing NOW support for victims of sex discrimination. For example, NOW has received nationwide publicity for its assistance to Pauline Dziob, who was denied a yeoman (clerk-typist) job aboard ship on the grounds that this was “man’s work,” and for its intervention in the”Mengelkoch case” protesting a California state labor law which restricts women (but not men) in hours of overtime work in factories. (Dramatic case histories are always welcomed by the press. But check all the facts carefully first! The national NOW legal committee can advise you.)
A FEW WORDS OF CAUTION: Don’t let the press lure you into a battle-of-the-sexes approach. Emphasize that NOW has many men members, and that we are working for equal partnership between men and women-with no discrimination against either sex. . . . Don’t participate in a discussion that pokes fun at women. Sure we all have a good sense of humor; but let’s try to promote the image of American woman as a serious, responsible person-not a helpless object for ridicule. . . . When you are interviewed as a NOW representative, use good judgment if the press tries to draw you out on controversial issues not covered by NOW policy. Remember, the public might erroneously get the impression that you are stating NOW policy, rather than your own personal opinions as an individual. Also, if your local NOW chapter has taken a certain stand which is not the policy of the national NOW organization, please be sure to emphasize in press interviews that you are speaking for your local chapter only. If in doubt about a future statement or interview, please check first with your local NOW chapter president or with a NOW national officer.
NOW keeps a scrapbook of national and local publicity. This helps us tell our story to prospective members, financial supporters and allies. Would you kindly send any and all NOW clippings you come across to Muriel Fox, 43 East 83rd St. New York City 10028. If you wish, we will xerox your clippings and return the originals to you In the next mail.
A special word of thanks to Patricia Perry, Barbara Ireton, Linda Waring and Bette Jerome for their publicity work in Washington; and to Marsha Lane and Dolores Alexander for their work in New York.
Muriel Fox, Public Relations Chairman