Atlantic City had a wonderful history of having outstanding public relations experts promoting the city and its events. From the 1930s to the beginning of the casino era, Atlantic City had such outstanding public relations gems as Mal Dodson, Al Owens, Sid Ascher and, last but certainly not least, Soundra Usry.
The public relations offices were located on the Mississippi Avenue side of Boardwalk Hall. Typewriters and telephones were available to visiting reporters. Photographers had a darkroom so they could develop their pictures. There was always a hot cup of coffee available. Most of all, the city’s PR staff steered the press to those who were making the news.
The PR staff was involved in setting up varied special events to entice the press to come and write about what was happening in Atlantic City. It could be the man sitting on the flagpole for the summer or horses riding on the beach, the Miss America Pageant and anything of interest that might get a paragraph or two in a major newspaper or a mention on a television news show.
Mickey McCullough was without a doubt one of the best public relations geniuses of his era. He was the one who took one of the girls who was performing at the 500 Club and sat her on the Boardwalk railing in what was the bikini of that time, but in today's world it’s a full-size bathing suit.
Atlantic City had an ordinance that you could not be on the Boardwalk with such a swimsuit. He informed the police that this young lady was going to break the law and he also informed the media in neighboring major cities about what was to take place. Crowds gathered to look at this charming young lady sitting on the Boardwalk rail in her swimsuit. The police came and “arrested” her. The media got their story and plenty of pictures. The next day Atlantic City’s law breaker’s picture was spread all over the major newspapers and television stations throughout the nation.
The flagpole-sitter received a lot of attention. He was on a pole adjacent to the Steel Pier. Actually he had a small platform. People would walk by and wave to him and carry on a conversation. Rain or shine, he was there. The biggest question that came from most of the people who watched him for an hour was, “Where’s your toilet?” He would point to the bucket alongside him and threaten to send it down upon them. It was quite an attraction.
These were the kind of corny stunts that were done in that era.
Last week, Atlantic City was named the most Romantic City in the nation. It beat out Key West, Florida, and New Orleans, Louisiana. Did you know about it? Don’t you think that story deserved to have some of the romantic sites in Atlantic City in the newspaper or on television? A good public relations person would have gotten that done. Unfortunately, they don't have one working for Atlantic City.
For many years, Atlantic City was the second-highest grossing casino market in the nation. With the opening of the casinos in Pennsylvania, Atlantic City was overtaken and is now in third place. Will it remain there?
It is interesting to note that many of the new casinos in states around the nation are coming in below baseline forecasts for revenue. Officials blame miscalculation of spending habits and competition as the major factor for this. Many of the new casinos in neighboring states are not as lucrative as they were anticipated to be.
Meanwhile a casino revenue report by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement shows that the eight remaining casinos in Atlantic City are capable of doing business.
The casinos reported an almost 19 percent increase in January over what those same properties won last year, and a slight increase in overall revenue compared to January of last year, when there were 12 casino in town.
Media around the nation keep saying Atlantic City is dying, and some say it is already dead. However, if you look at the report for this past month, you would see they are very much alive.
In the past, casinos were known to be big money-makers. But, unfortunately, some states have noted that their returns on investment are far short of what they had originally anticipated for tax needs.
Just this past week, I, along with several others in the city, were interviewed by a reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Company. A few weeks ago, CBC did a television report on Atlantic City that has already played twice throughout Canada. It was also presented in French-speaking nations around the world. The CBC sent another reporter to do a story for their Internet productions.
Several of us were also interviewed by a writer for New Yorker magazine. He is doing a major story on the past, present and possible future of Atlantic City. Obviously, there is still interest in what is taking place in Atlantic City.
A big weekend
The following is a report from Global Spectrum. This past weekend, more than 18,000 ticket holders were in Atlantic City for Boardwalk Hall concerts by Latin superstar Mark Anthony on Friday and R&B legend Charlie Wilson on Saturday. The back-to-back concerts showcased the diverse lineup of entertainment at the arena thus far in 2015. Ten concerts have been booked and more will be announced in the near future.
Question are often asked about who benefits from these concerts besides the performers, their bookers and their site. The following is a rundown of how much these crowds add to the local economy.
* 81 percent of ticket holders traveled more than 50 miles to attend the concerts, with 40 percent traveling more than 100 miles.
* 63 percent dined at Atlantic City restaurants.
* 56 percent stayed at an Atlantic City hotel.
* 46 percent spent more than $200 during their time in Atlantic City outside of Boardwalk Hall on food, handling, accommodations or retail.
* 45 percent gambled in an Atlantic City casino.
These figures show how important it is to have major events in the Boardwalk Hall and Atlantic City's Convention Center. Funds from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority has played a major role in aiding Global Spectrum in obtaining the excellent acts that have been performing at Boardwalk Hall. Happy to inform you there is much more to come.
Pinky’s Corner appears every Thursday in The Press. The Pinky’s Corner radio show airs 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on WOND 1400-AM. Email Pinky at: firstname.lastname@example.org