June 21, 2007
WASHINGTON, JUNE 20, 2007- Hugh C. Newton, a public relations expert who helped create and guide The Heritage Foundation's widely acclaimed communications department for more than a quarter-century, died Monday after a battle with cancer.
Newton began working for Heritage in 1977, charged with promoting the new think tank's research and commentaries among a largely liberal media community that often treated conservative ideas and solutions with disdain.
Newton's hard work, personal charm and tenacity produced immediate results. Within a week, syndicated columnist Andrew Tully (not a conservative) quoted a Heritage study that roundly criticized the Carter administration's "Universal Voter Registration" bill. It was a major coup for a young think tank struggling to make its voice heard.
Soon thereafter, Newton convinced Heritage President Ed Feulner to hire media relations tyro Herb Berkowitz. Newton and Berkowitz collaborated on Heritage media relations strategies for the next 25 years. In the process, they earned a Silver Anvil Award (the highest honor conferred by the Public Relations Society of America) and made Heritage one of the most widely quoted think tanks in America.
Today, the department that Newton founded - now named Communications and Marketing - routinely places op-ed essays in major newspapers across the country, is a leader in the blogosphere and new media, and arranges frequent national and international radio and television interviews for Heritage experts.
Such success springs from the strategy consistently preached and practiced by Newton: the necessity of reaching out to all news media - conservative, liberal and everything in between. "Hugh loved to engage in intellectual give-and-take with editors and reporters," Feulner recalled. "But no matter how fierce the policy debates raged, he always held fast to his maxim: 'We can disagree without being disagreeable.'
"Hugh was one of a kind and larger than life," Feulner added. "With one phone call, he could get Heritage research more publicity than a hundred e-mails that PR people use today. He could do that because he believed in personal relationships. I was privileged to have the benefit of his counsel-and the joy of his friendship-for so many years. The world is sadder, quieter and far poorer for his passing."