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