Meeting Recap with Bob Hope, Mark Meltzer and Daniel Groce

by Riley Mason

On March 12, the Drewry chapter of PRSSA hosted Bob Hope, Chairmen and Co-Founder of Hope-Beckham; Mark Meltzer, Executive Vice President of Hope-Beckmen; and Daniel Groce, PRSA Georgia President. Hope has been inducted into the PRSA Georgia Order of the Phoenix and Georgia Public Relations Hall of Fame at the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications. Hope gave a presentation about his experiences and opportunities throughout his career and followed with a Q&A including all three guests. 

Bob Hope- The Magic Touch 

I got started in the public relations business by working my way through college. One day I showed up at the Atlanta Braves office and asked for a job. I got lucky and was offered a job. While I was there the Braves assistant PR director was called to serve in the army, so I wrote the press releases while he was gone. After that, I never left and became the head of public relations for the Braves at 24. 

In 1972, I was in charge of the MLB All-Star Baseball Game in Atlanta. I went to the chamber of commerce and asked to decorate the city and for equal commodities for both women and men in hotels. I had a budget of $600,000 and ran with it. I used the same ideas for the NBA All-Star Game in 1978, creating rings for the players. This was the first time players in the NBA were ever given rings for a game. 

In 1976, Ted Turner bought the Braves. He and I worked together to formulate his image and the media coverage for the Braves. Ted told me that we both had the “Magic Touch.” He meant that we could take ordinary things and make them extraordinary. 

Communication and storytelling are a joy to work with every day. Not only is it joyful, it puts you in situations that you never thought you would get to be in. It is a wonderful life. 

Q&A with Bob Hope, Mark Meltzer and Daniel Groce 

How did you get started? 

Mark Meltzer: I am now the Executive Vice President of Hope-Beckmen, working alongside Bob Hope. However, before this position, I was the Executive Editor of the Atlanta Business Chronicle for more than 20 years. 

Bob Hope: You only have one life to live, so just jump in. Just think yes. By saying yes I have worked in New York, been to Nepal twice, traveled to Zimbabwe and spent time in Honduras. When I hear a new idea I think yes, and that has helped me get started. 

Daniel Groce: I currently work in employee communications at Delta Airlines. Delta has about 100,000 employees and I get to communicate and work alongside them all. Before Delta, I was the public affairs manager at an aluminum manufacturing factory that specialized in recycling aluminum. 

Can you walk us through how you have handled crisis communication? 

Bob Hope: When I was in New York it was almost like a crisis a week. When Coca-Cola introduced the new Coke and announced it in New York instead of Atlanta, the home of Coke, people were upset. I worked alongside the CEO of Coca-Cola to host an event in Atlanta the next Monday after the announcement to appease shareholders. I had to figure out an idea that was going to make it work. 

Mark Meltzer: I was working with a client at a private school that had hired a teacher who was arrested for abusing a student. The woman who was head of the school was very scared, but I advised her to tell the story from her side. I connected her with a reporter and she told her side of the story. Once the story was released it died out because it was starved of new information. 

Daniel Groce: You may want to get the experience of going through a crisis when you are new in your career. Figure out what you can bring to the table and get a foot in the door as soon as you can. You need experience and determination to work on crisis stories. 

What is a piece of advice for the next generation of PR professionals? 

Bob Hope: Have a purpose and then have passion for that purpose. Buy into both and get involved with it and you will be happy. 

Mark Meltzer: Make sure you have the widest set of skills possible. While you are figuring out what kind of companies you like and where your skills are best used, it is best to bring as many skills as you can to become accustomed to new places and roles. But as time goes on you may gravitate to a specialty or learn what you don’t like to do. 

Daniel Groce: Now is the time to do the craziest stuff in your mind. The answer is always to go try it. Also, staying involved in PRSA will benefit you and the company you work for in the long run.