The Role of Public Relations in Politics is a monthly column written by WWPR member Margaret Mulvihill, examining the role of PR in politics.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Washington Women in Public Relations


Margaret Mulvihill



Until today, I have looked at the role of public relations in politics from the standpoint of a PR media specialist.  I shared with you the traditional insider agency perspective, or shop view, if you will.  This month, I encourage you to look through a different lens at the role of public relations in politics.


We have many great politicians in this country.  Many great women.  Arguably, we have great lawyers in this country.  Once in a millennium, the three come together in one person.  Then we see a potential elected representative that we can believe in, place our trust in, and be proud of.  In this instance, I’m looking at Marisa DeFranco (D), a well-known and highly regarded immigration attorney who is running for Congress in the 6thDistrict, Massachusetts.




DeFranco is no stranger to the election cycle.  2012 saw her running for the Senate, when she fought a spirited battle against Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), but was ultimately denied ballot access even though she had been in the race long before Warren finally announced her candidacy.  A great competitor who does not give up, who comes back again and again, with grit and perseverance — here is a candidate who will cross the aisle to get things done.  How do I know this?  I am looking at the candidate through the lens of a media specialist.


This lens shows me a strong, confident woman.  A well-educated, thoughtful candidate. A woman who understands our issues and has the solutions.  Above all, a woman who is fearless when standing up for her constituents.  A woman who has practiced what others merely preach, persevering when right is on her side.  DeFranco can surely now count on Warren’s strong support, given her hard push for gender equality, and her public and vocal championing of women.  Who better to step up for another woman candidate than Warren?  It will serve to strengthen and validate Warren’s message, and ensure her political legacy.




As DeFranco continues to confidently navigate the often-stormy waters of public relations in politics, she faces minor competition in a party primary from two fellow Democrats, Seth Moulton and John Devine.  The incumbent, Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass), a nine-term Congressman, held his seat by the narrowest of margins at the last election.  No amount of public relations expertise will diminish the ongoing scandal which has led to the incarceration of his wife and other family members.  Tierney at the time claimed ignorance of the international gambling scandal that his wife and two brothers-in-law were involved in.  I doubt that Tierney’s PR people had anything to do with his recent public statement in which he revealed that he was, in fact, aware of the gambling ring, but did not understand the extent of it.




The granddaughter of Italian immigrants, DeFranco is an award-winning immigration attorney.  Her work on behalf of immigrants, business, children in state custody, and survivors of violence have finely-tuned her natural compassion.  In common with Warren, she is passionate about equal rights for women, pointing out that we make up 51% of the population.


A true leader, she has served as Chair of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Immigration Section Council, Chair of the New England Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), liaison to a Federal Government agency, and Director on the AILA National Board of Governors. A past Commissioner on the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, DeFranco is an exceptional woman. An exceptional attorney.


She is an exceptional Candidate.



Margaret Mulvihill is Director of Communications at Lawson Mulvihill in Washington, DC.  Follow her on Twitter: @LawsonMulvihill