Press Secretary Peter Kaye formed the PFC's small in-house Press Office in October, 1975. Kaye directed the organization's radio, television, and news activities through the primary campaign, reporting to the PFC Chairman. He resigned in July, 1976, when the Press Office was subsumed under a larger Communications Division, headed by newly-appointed Deputy Chairman for Communications William I. Greener, Jr. Thereafter, Deputy Director Ron Weber directed campaign press operations, including audio feed banks, newsletters, and field press operations. During the general election campaign, Peter Teeley served as Press Secretary in an enlarged Press Office with responsibility for drafting and distributing PFC press releases, fielding campaign-related press inquiries, and directing audio operations. (See Attachment A).
The division of responsibilities between the PFC's press operation and the White House Press office headed by Ron Nessen was unclear and periodically strained during the campaign. The PFC staff was to respond only to those queries related to the campaign organization and activities, directing more substantive questions to the President's own White House press operation. While this is not clearly documented in the PFC Press Office File, evidence is scattered in portions of the Ron Nessen Papers.
The Press Office collection incompletely documents the Office's significant role in the campaign as the organization's liaison to the media. The Press Secretaries' series contain little substantial or original material related to their activities. Peter Kaye's role in formulating and implementing an overall news strategy, his attendance at PFC sessions with White House officials and sometimes President Ford, and his frequent communications with White House Press Secretary Ron Nessen are not evidenced. Also lacking is documentation of Kaye's press plan presented at the PFC's November 1975 Finance Committee meeting and establishment of an advocates program using high administration officials as campaign surrogates. Additionally, the collection does not include material reflecting the work of several key staff members, such as Deputy Director Ron Weber.
The collection's major research value lies in campaign information in Press Office publications and the reference files in the Kaye, Teeley, and Clippings series. Press releases and in-house newsletters disseminated to the press, advocates and organization members nationwide are amassed in the Kaye and Teeley series and provide an excellent source of information on PFC activities and appointments. The Kaye and Clippings series provide abundant background material in folders related to Ford, Reagan and the state primaries.
Interesting final reports on aspects of the PFC's press operations prepared after the November election are found in Teeley's "Recommendations and 'Lessons Learned' for Future Republican Campaigns Book." Additionally, small amounts of valuable material are found in Teeley and Rosenker folders concerning an office controversy over a centrally or regionally organized audio program, and Rosenker's analysis of the 1972 CREEP audio program.
Interoffice memoranda filed in the Kaye, Teeley and Rosenker series partially document the Office's management of incoming media requests. Kaye passed requests for presidential appearances, with his recommendations, to Ron Nessen for response. The PFC Press Office provided the media with pre-recorded video and audio messages from the President, First Family, Advocates and PFC officials. Particularly well documented here are radio actualities, recorded excerpts from campaign speeches made nationwide, which Rosenker transmitted by Watts line to radio stations for free broadcast. While records were kept of the numerous messages sent, the texts are not included and there is no method of determining whether stations actually broadcast the messages.
Related Materials (as of 1991):
Related PFC press operation material may be found in the files of the Chairman's Office, the Office of Administration, and Campaign '76 Communications, Inc. Material related to Kaye's interaction with the White House is available in the files and papers of White House Press Secretary Ron Nessen, and the files of Counsellor to the President for Political Affairs Rogers Morton, Special Counsel David Gergen (including Kaye's state media files), and Directors of Press Advance Eric Rosenberger and Douglass Blaser. In addition, White House Central Files Name File includes files for many of the PFC Press Office staff.