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Press Agents of Change

Eadington Lecture looks at how the rise of public relations helped push the casino industry out of its past and into a new era of legitimacy.

Research  |  Jan 24, 2017  |  By UNLV News Center
Iglesias
Editor's Note: 

Jessalynn R. Strauss is an assistant professor of strategic communications at Elon University and one of the UNLV Center for Gaming Research's 2016-17 Eadington Fellows. The residency program allows researchers worldwide to explore the archives of the UNLV Libraries Special Collection. Strauss' research addresses corporate social responsibility and public relations in the casino industry, particularly Las Vegas. In her free lecture "Promoting Las Vegas: Stories and Strategies of Casino Press Releases," Strauss examines releases from the 1960s to '90s at 3 p.m. Jan. 25 in the Lied Library's Goldfield Room.


Sometimes, Las Vegas’s history can be found in the most unusual places. This talk looks at what we can learn from the press releases of Las Vegas’s casinos from the 1960s to the 1990s. Drawing from 10 casinos and more than 750 press release documents that form part of the Casino Promotional and Publicity Collection in UNLV Libraries Special Collections, this talk will tell the unknown stories of Las Vegas’s history and consider how the press release has contributed to the growth of the gaming industry.
 
Publicists and public relations practitioners have long used press releases to communicate with news media for a variety of purposes. Among other things, press releases are used to announce openings and closings; personnel changes; special events and announcements; and noteworthy occasions such as milestones or the appearance of celebrities. In order to attract the attention of reporters and editors, press releases emphasize the newsworthy elements of a situation.
 

Topicana press release

The act of media relations, in which press releases play a crucial role, contributes a great deal to a company or organization. Coverage by the news media can help expand the reach of a company’s message and can also add an element of third-party credibility to the message. This kind of media relations played a big role in the expansion of Las Vegas as both a gambling mecca and a viable tourism destination.
 
The press releases of Las Vegas’s casinos have contributed considerably to the expansion of the gaming industry and, by extension, the city itself. After briefly explaining the context of these press releases and the role they played in the business of Las Vegas casinos, this talk will dive into the unique and fascinating stories they can tell. From the Circus Circus clown who received his stage name from legendary director Cecil B. DeMille to the unlikely winner of a sports betting contest at Tropicana, the hidden stories from these press releases contribute valuable insights to our knowledge of the modern gaming industry during a crucial time in its expansion and growth.