Our Chairman, Steve Mitchell, discusses how Mitchell Research & Communications came to be.
After working on the national staff of Reagan-Bush 84, where I was in charge of all voter programs and chief spokesperson for the President’s re-election campaign in the State of Washington, I returned to Michigan and formed Mitchell Research & Communications, Inc. with offices and phone center in East Lansing.
Working on a presidential campaign had been quite an education for me, especially since it was a re-election race and I was dealing with the president and vice president coming into my state. I observed and learned to operate at such a high level of sophistication that when I had clients later I could use the same methods and operational approaches for them as I did when working for the president.
Even though my presidential campaign was 30 years ago, the processes and how you handle strategic planning and working on crises has not changed. Obviously, we did not deal with social media – I’ve had to learn that since. One key trait I learned was to get the work done that is of the highest quality and to get it done on time. My ability to get things done quickly helped my parents meet President Reagan.
My Dad and Mom knew the president was coming to Seattle and wanted to know if they could get a good seat to see him if they flew up from Scottsdale, Arizona where they lived. I said of course, but, I couldn’t guarantee if they would get to meet the president and shake his hand since I had not yet met the advance staff that would make that decision.
The advance team flew in four days before the event. We had to build a big crowd and they chose a venue that would seat 20,000 people. The team said it was going to be hard to assemble that many people because they couldn’t mail out invitations and tickets before the event because they didn’t have enough time.
This meeting was on a Monday night at 8 PM. I asked when they would need the mail dropped at the post office if we were to mail out invitations and they said by 6 PM the next day, Tuesday. I said let me make a couple of calls. After talking to a printer I had been working with, he said he could get it done, and so did the mail house we had been using as part of the voter programs. By 9 PM Monday, I told them I could do it.
At 5:45 PM Tuesday, less than 20 hours after hearing about it, the letters with tickets as well as envelopes were printed, stuffed, postage added and at the post office. I did what I promised in lightning time. We had a standing room only crowd when the President flew in and the advance team was ecstatic.
So, they insisted my parents go to the $5,000 reception and have their picture taken. Since my mother loved Ronald Reagan from his acting days, since they were both hard-core Republicans, and since they had never met an American president before, it was one of the highlights of their life. I have my picture and their picture with President Reagan on my office wall in East Lansing.
Every day when I see it, I think back to how I was able to give them one of the great moments of their life…and hope it made up for all the grief I gave them when I was younger!