Edward L. Bernays
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Carl R. Byoir
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FDR Birthday Balls

Throughout the campaign for Infantile Paralysis, Carl Byoir remained in the background and allowed the spotlight to focus on his client. After all, if Byoir was going to gain presidential favor for his client, he would have to do all the work and receive little credit.

Byoir designed a fundraising event to make news and meet his client's objectives. In this campaign every person involved would be a useable news product. As a part of his strategy, Byoir used third-party influences such as the Elks, Masons, American Legion, labor unions, business organizations, Kiwanis, Booster and Exchange clubs to assist in this national draft for fundraising. To further the uniqueness of this occasion, the president's birthday was selected as the night of the event.

Byoir personally called every newspaper publisher in the U.S. and asked him to nominate a local FDR Birthday Ball chairman (a tactic United Way uses today) and in turn, this made news. Byoir mused,

"When you set out to influence and persuade people to action, when the campaign is tremendous, nation-wide [sic] in scope, don't think that it just happens; something has to be done to get millions of people to think the thought you want them to think and then to get them to act on that thought."

January 30, 1934 was the first of many successful Birthday Balls. "Dance so that a child may walk" became the slogan and a song was written by George M. Cohan which Lily Pons sang for the newsreels. In attendance at varying locations were the Morgans, Whitneys, Vanderbilts and Wideners. By May, Byoir turned a check over to the Infantile Paralysis Foundation in the amount of $1 million dollars.

Today, the campaign still exists, but under a new name. The March of Dimes is one of the many legacies of Carl Byoir which exists because of a single public relations plan to bolster a businessman's image.

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