Everett Clay Associates (ECA) is Florida's Oldest Public Relations Firm.
For Everett Clay, sports was a lifetime passion. He began working in The Miami Herald's sports department in 1929. When he returned to Miami after graduating from the University of Florida in the early thirties, he became the youngest sports editor of The Miami Herald, realizing a lifelong dream.
While he lived and breathed printer's ink, he realized it would take more than that salary to support his young family. With great reluctance, he approached John S. Knight, then publisher of The Miami Herald, about his idea of starting the area's first public relations firm.
In 1940, Everett A. Clay struck out on his own.
His first accounts included Hialeah Race Course, W.D. Pawley's Miami Transit Company and the Orange Bowl game. He provided external public relations counsel for Miami's top corporations including specialties in finance, real estate, transportation, public policy issues, medical, and professional services.
The principles of business Ev Clay left behind created the legacy and foundation that still operates today. They were: not being the biggest but the best; teamwork, truth, trust, and loyalty; limiting accounts to one per industry; no conflicts of interest; cherishing creativity, and continuing to learn.
These principles of our past and our growth for the future are intricately linked at Everett Clay Associates.
Mr. Clay had two special phrases that summed up his personal business philosophy. First, "Truth" is the basis of the business because "You can't sell rotten spaghetti." And second, he believed the apostle Matthew recorded the first textbook on public relations in "The Sermon on the Mount," with direction to: "Let your light shine and don't hide it under a bushel."
Ev also left a legacy of professionalism and community service. Today, both of these principles are alive with the firm's "no conflict" policy, the emphasis on professional education and accreditation by the Public Relations Society of America, and pro bono activities.
In addition to building the firm, he served as Public Relations Director for Hialeah Race Course for 28 years. In 1930, Joseph Widener was motivated to create the world's most beautiful race track. His dream was to create a beautiful public park in which racing would be conducted for part of the year. The inspiration was a combination of Addison Mizner's Spanish architecture along with the French Chateau style of building and landscaping.
During Hialeah's boom years, celebrities flocked to the track during the winter racing season. Included were such luminaries as President Harry S. Truman, Bing Crosby, Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, Joseph Kennedy and Sir Winston Churchill.
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (1874-1965) visited Miami in January 1946. He enjoyed the climate as he was planning a meeting with President Truman. They later met in Missouri, but while in Florida, Everett Clay made this observation: "The British statesman did 'flourish' in the South Florida winter climate of 1946, playing with paints and easel, visiting the Parrot Jungle frequently - and coming to Hialeah (Park Race Track) for Bahamas Day in honor of the neighboring British colony."
Everett Clay recalled in his book Hialeah Hilarities:
"Just before the feature race, I went to the Hialeah Club for his pronouncement on the track.
'Sir Winston, what do you think of Hialeah?'
And as I started to leave, he asked: 'What do you think of the next race?'
He probably reasoned in my position I was privy to special information, not realizing that I received considerable misinformation on horses. I said, 'I like number seven.'
'Good hunch. A Canadian-bred, too,' he replied, showing knowledge of the sport.
Number seven was Wee Admiral, an easy winner, and with his pockets stuffed with winning tickets, Sir Winston had an extra wide grin for the trophy presentation ceremonies.
And I had the satisfaction of 'touting' one of history's greatest winners on a winner."
This photograph was taken on the same day in January 1946 as the anecdote described above from our founder's book Hialeah Hilarities. Pictured behind Sir Winston Churchill are Everett Clay and Hialeah Race Course president John C. Clark.