2005: Morton H. Kaplan

2005 Pub­lic­ity Club of Chicago Life­time Achieve­ment Hon­oree:
Mor­ton H. Kaplan

Con­grat­u­la­tions to this year’s Life­time Achieve­ment Award recip­i­ent, Mor­ton H. Kaplan.

Kaplan is a con­sul­tant in pub­lic rela­tions and com­mu­ni­ca­tion strate­gies, spe­cial­iz­ing in busi­ness, the arts and gov­ern­ment. He cur­rently is a tenured pro­fes­sor of mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions and direc­tor of the Pub­lic Rela­tions Stud­ies con­cen­tra­tion at Colum­bia Col­lege in Chicago.

Kaplan estab­lished and main­tained Mor­ton H. Kaplan Asso­ciates, one of Chicago’s most suc­cess­ful pub­lic rela­tions agen­cies for nearly two decades from the 1960s to the 1980s. The firm was later acquired by Ketchum Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Kaplan was appointed to the board of direc­tors and named exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager of Chicago/ Mid­west oper­a­tions of Ketchum Pub­lic Rela­tions. In this capac­ity, he super­vised such accounts as Motorola, Miller Brew­ing com­pany, Amer­i­can Bar Asso­ci­a­tion (Lit­i­ga­tion and Human Rights sec­tions) and many other blue chip organizations.

Kaplan has been a trustee of the Chicago The­ater Foun­da­tion, a direc­tor of Step­pen­wolf The­ater Com­pany and also served as a pro­fes­sional con­sul­tant to the League of Chicago The­aters. Kaplan was the first Pres­i­dent and co-founder of the Illi­nois Arts Alliance, a statewide cit­i­zens advo­cacy orga­ni­za­tion for the per­form­ing and visual arts. He also was Pres­i­dent of the Illi­nois Arts Action Coali­tion, a com­pan­ion orga­ni­za­tion for lob­by­ing. These orga­ni­za­tions, which he later served as chair­man, were hailed for hav­ing staved off major cuts in gov­ern­ment sup­port of the arts. Kaplan later received the organization’s high­est award for cul­tural leadership.

He is a one-time mem­ber of the Mid­west Advi­sory Board for the Adver­tis­ing Coun­cil, a trustee of the Kate Mare­mont Foun­da­tion, was a direc­tor of sev­eral cor­po­ra­tions includ­ing Sil­vestri Man­u­fac­tur­ing Com­pany, and a found­ing direc­tor of the Com­mit­tee on Illi­nois Gov­ern­ment. Kaplan is the recip­i­ent of a spe­cial award pre­sented by the Chicago Park Dis­trict for co-creating and imple­ment­ing the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame. His firm both rep­re­sented and named the Rose­mont Horizon.

A for­mer board mem­ber of the Pub­lic Rela­tions Soci­ety of Amer­ica (Chicago chap­ter), Kaplan is also a life­time mem­ber of the Pub­lic­ity Club of Chicago. Dur­ing his pro­fes­sional career, he was a fre­quent guest lec­turer at the Uni­ver­sity of Chicago and Loy­ola Uni­ver­sity and has done con­sid­er­able media train­ing, pre­sen­ta­tion skills train­ing and cri­sis communications.

Prior to accept­ing his appoint­ment at Colum­bia Col­lege, he was an adjunct instruc­tor in the grad­u­ate divi­sion of North­west­ern University’s Medill School of Jour­nal­ism in the cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­cen­tra­tion. At Colum­bia, his stu­dents won a national best prac­tices com­pe­ti­tion for work on Organ Donor Aware­ness, a major pub­lic rela­tions cam­paign open to more than 200 col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties nationwide.

In 2001, Kaplan co-created a pro­gram for stu­dents seek­ing careers in movie and enter­tain­ment PR, tak­ing stu­dents to Los Ange­les each fall for a crash course in a rented bun­ga­low on the CBS lot. He also worked with a con­sor­tium from the Uni­ver­sity of Chicago and WTTW-Public Tele­vi­sion to pro­vide a national pub­lic ser­vice TV cam­paign on eth­nic diver­sity to help pro­mote racial har­mony. Kaplan has writ­ten and pro­duced a num­ber of pub­lic ser­vice TV and radio cam­paigns as well as polit­i­cal com­mer­cials. His ser­vices as a com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­sul­tant have been employed by pub­lic offi­cials includ­ing pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates, U.S. sen­a­tors and con­gress­men, munic­i­pal­i­ties, trade asso­ci­a­tions and non-profit groups.

Kaplan wrote and nar­rated his own radio com­men­taries, “Amus­ing Myself at Your Expense,” that aired on WKOX, then the NBC radio out­let in Chicago. His arti­cles have appeared in numer­ous pub­li­ca­tions, and he is a fre­quent guest on Chicago Tonight, WTTW-TV. His recent book, “When You Speak, Do They Lis­ten?” was pub­lished in 2004 by Colum­bia. A mar­ket­ing grad­u­ate of DePaul Uni­ver­sity, Kaplan served dur­ing the Korean War in the United States Counter-Intelligence Corps.

The father of three adult daugh­ters, he is a res­i­dent of the near north side of Chicago where he main­tains inter­ests in the arts and pur­sues avo­ca­tional inter­ests in the­ater, travel, golf, lit­er­a­ture and a life­long devo­tion to pub­lic rela­tions and communications