by Hunter Dawkins

Monday afternoon at the Knight Nonprofit Center in Gulfport, the Public Relations Association of Mississippi’s (PRAM) Beach Chapter hosted an early afternoon discussion on politics.  PRAM President and Marketing Director for the State Port Authority Kimberly Aguillard introduced Gulf Coast Business Council President and Gulf Coast Restoration Fund Chairman Ashley Edwards as the guest speaker on the current connection between public relations and politics.

Edwards explained his past government experience and the concept of marketing in politics.  After this brief dialogue, he displayed three important political figures in examining their appeal to the electorate.  These were Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill and Barack Obama.  Edwards described how each was different, but how their appeal beyond partisanship helped control the narrative and each message was extremely effective.

The lecture turned to how the news conveys the important issues.  Edwards presented several Pew Research Center polls to show that the media and politicians don’t often relate to the key issues of the public.

“The red is getting more red and the blue is becoming more blue,” said Edwards.  “The middle is shrinking and people are becoming more solid towards the extremes.”

According to Edwards, “Millennials are changing everything around the world.”  Based on the numbers, their appeal tends to be big into gaming, which has become a large issue for economic development on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Diversity inclusion has developed into a major issue among this voter bloc of millennials, as at least 50% put themselves among the Independent category in politics with Edwards’ Pew numbers.

Finally, Edwards delivered 5 essentials for the discourse to have a clear political identity, good policy, win-win, be transparent/honest, and know that haters are going to hate.

Before the dialogue began, Aguillard presented Christen Duhe with the PRAM Rex Kelly Award.  Duhe is Vice President of Institutional Relations at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. She is a graduate from The University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor degree in public relations and a Master degree in mass communication.

Additionally, Christen is a graduate of Leadership Gulf Coast, Business Council’s Masters’ Class, MEC’s Leadership Mississippi and Mississippi Community College Leadership Academy.