Named 2018 PR Firm of the Year by PRNews
Of all the issues we’ve influenced in the past two decades, our single greatest point of impact may be on children’s issues. From working with Healthy Start, to lowering infant mortality, to branding and launching the Whole Child initiative to ensure that the first five years of life are safe, healthy, and enriching for Florida’s youngest citizens, children’s issues have been a primary focus for our firm. We spearheaded the successful campaign to pass an amendment to Florida’s Constitution establishing Florida’s voluntary pre-K program. Our work with the Florida Governor’s Office to rebrand the state’s public adoption system helped produce two record years for adoptive placements of children in foster care. We developed successful campaigns with the Florida Department of Children & Families and the Lauren’s Kids foundation to raise awareness of the signs of child abuse and to encourage abuse reporting. And we supported Lauren’s Kids and the Florida Department of Education in creating developmentally appropriate sexual abuse prevention curriculum for children from pre-K through high school.
As the nation launched the 2010 Census, our firm was engaged to lead Florida’s outreach to three of the most underrepresented populations: Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Migrant Farm Workers. As part of our work, we created highly effective, multifaceted campaigns to bring about behavior change by employing public and media relations, marketing, advertising, community relations, and special events that resonated with people of multiple ethnicities.
Our census team met with thousands of Floridians, delivering appropriately customized messages, and shared targeted information with those individuals likely to be influential with those populations. We then enlisted influencers to share those messages with their contacts, emphasizing that census participation would benefit their communities. Whenever possible, we spoke to our targeted groups in their native languages and through ongoing face-to-face meetings in their communities to become a trusted voice among residents, key tribal leaders, business and community leaders, council members, and faith-based organizations.
Through our longstanding relationship with the Consumer Federation of the Southeast, we have increased awareness of a range of issues that affect consumers’ pocketbooks and have fought for changes in the law that better protect consumers from fraud. We created an awareness campaign to educate consumers about how to advocate for and access the medications they need. When trial lawyers were promoting a run on limited asbestos funds, we made the case to reform Florida’s asbestos compensation system to put real victims to the front of the line. With insurance rates climbing, we worked to protect consumers from costly insurance fraud and help reduce costly staged crashes that were driving up auto insurance costs.
As a small business, we understand that the Sunshine State needs a thriving private-sector engine to keep Floridians employed and keep our economy growing. Throughout our history, we’ve worked with a host of business groups – from the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce to Associated Industries of Florida and many private companies – to promote policies that support a vibrant economy, job creation, and healthy businesses. When Florida’s economy was at its lowest point in modern history, we worked with Florida’s Senate President and Speaker of the House to convene a statewide job summit. When the Environmental Protection Agency tried to cram down one-size-fits-all federal water standards on Florida, with potentially devastating impacts on Florida’s agriculture industry, we organized a bipartisan effort to preserve Florida’s waterway-specific rules. After the BP oil spill, we organized a series of meetings throughout the Gulf Coast region with small business owners for the Presidential Oil Spill Commission to make sure their voices were heard and the impact on them was documented. We also launched a campaign to boost travel and tourism to the Panhandle in the wake of the spill.
Our extensive work on education issues has impacted education at every level, from pre-K through college. Working in partnership with the Foundation for Excellence in Education and the Council of 100, we generated extensive media coverage about gains in Florida’s educational system and the importance of appropriate standards and accountability. In partnership with Step Up for Students, our work has helped to protect corporate tax credit scholarships for more than 80,000 low-income mostly black and Hispanic students. We rebranded the Florida College System and helped advocate for adequate funding to meet the needs of new and returning students. In our home base of Leon County, we promoted and passed a half-cent sales tax – twice – to benefit local public schools. To promote greater financial literacy, we launched a local campaign with Envision Credit Union and Godby High School.
For most of our firm’s history, America and Florida have been dangerously dependent on hostile foreign nations for our energy supply. We have worked with a diverse group of client organizations to promote greater energy diversity and less energy dependence. This work has included expanding the use of solar energy and encouraging Floridians to take advantage of solar tax credits. We promoted a revolutionary nanotechnology pioneered at FSU as a better, faster, more economical, and commercially viable fuel cell; greater use of natural gas vehicles; expansion of a natural gas pipeline; and natural gas storage solutions to ensure that we have the energy we need at all times, even after a major hurricane. We fostered community and grasstops conversations about oil exploration and using biomass for energy generation. And we supported energy conservation by encouraging residents to take advantage of federal weatherization grants and Property Assessed Clean Energy funding to make energy-saving home improvements.
We love the beautiful, fragile peninsula that we call home and we’re proud of the work we’ve done to conserve, preserve, and protect it. Looking back over 20 years, this impact has included working side by side with the Everglades Foundation to battle for funding to save Florida’s famed River of Grass and telling the stories of Florida entrepreneurs who are working to address climate change (long before Pope Francis made that a public imperative!). In the tradition of the great conservationist Teddy Roosevelt, we worked to pass two constitutional amendments that support acquisition of sensitive lands and preserve them for public benefit. We produced and aired a 30-minute statewide television special, “What’s Your EQ?” to help viewers test their “environment quotient.” And we worked as part of a team to urge the public to drive their litter home, rather than tossing it out the window.
Moving the needle on public health issues has been a major theme of our work throughout the life of the firm. We may not own a prescription pad, but we recognize the power of well-packaged and smartly delivered information to tackle major health challenges. Our work generated a public conversation about how we deal with people with serious mental illness and promoted greater access to mental health medications. We built thriving social media communities for families of people with brain injuries and parents trying to make sure their homes and pools are safe and sanitary. We created campaigns to encourage smoking cessation and spearheaded the effort to increase the tax on cigarettes by $1 a pack in a strongly anti-tax political environment. And we generated sustained media coverage about food allergies, meningitis, H1N1, and vaccinations.
Our firm has produced an annual “Get Ready, America! The National Hurricane Survival Initiative” to highlight the importance of public awareness, personal responsibility, and early storm preparation for residents who live in hurricane-vulnerable states from Texas to Maine. The motivation for this commitment of our time and effort: Our belief that it was the right thing for our communities to be better prepared.
“Get Ready, America!” is the official public safety messaging vehicle for a coalition of government agencies and public-private organizations dedicated to the cause of preparedness, including the National Emergency Management Association, the International Hurricane Research Center at Florida International University, and the Salvation Army. It is produced with support and counsel from the National Hurricane Center and underwriting sponsors. To provide fresh annual insights, we conduct a national survey of hurricane-vulnerable residents’ beliefs and behaviors and release the findings at a nationally focused teleconference at the start of hurricane season. A central annual element of the initiative is a 30-minute television special that runs in more than 55 television markets from Texas to Maine, with a separate educational version of the program broadcast into schools and on public access channels and partners’ websites.
We have created an array of state and national campaigns to address particular perils and make people safer. We also have helped clients fulfill their own public safety missions by telling their stories. We’ve worked in partnership with private clients like Bridges of America, which prepares soon-to-be-released inmates for safe and successful re-entry into the community, and public entities like the Florida Department of Health, which is working to reduce drowning deaths among our youngest residents. Our multi-year national campaign, Drive for Life, worked to engineer safer drivers, even as our corporate partner Volvo Cars of North America worked to engineer safer vehicles. Although we aren’t first responders, we are proud that our work has contributed a bit to public safety through education and communication.
Recognizing the significant contributions amateur and professional sports make to Florida’s economy, quality of life, and health and fitness, we have promoted public awareness of sports in many ways throughout our history. Working with the Florida Sports Foundation, we promoted participation in, awareness about, and media coverage of Florida’s Senior Games and Sunshine State Games. We also created and launched Fit Kids, an interactive campaign to promote physical activity and healthy eating among Florida’s children and youth. For several years, we created and promoted the Champion Awards, which gave Florida sports fans a chance to vote on their favorite amateur and professional athletes. The Champion Awards culminated in a gala dinner and statewide televised broadcast – featuring boxing legend Muhammad Ali – at which the winners were announced. Our branding work for FSU Women’s Basketball generated national attention and a national ADDY Award, supporting the team in its recruitment efforts. And our advocacy work on behalf of the Florida High School Athletic Association promoted fair play in high school athletics.
One of our proudest points of impact is the work we did to rebrand the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs and help the agency better serve women veterans, returning veterans, and Vietnam veterans. That effort increased services provided to all veterans by 95% and produced a 550% growth in the department’s Facebook fan base. Most importantly, we differentiated the FDVA and positioned the organization to better meet the needs of Florida veterans, fulfilling its goal of “honoring those who serve U.S.”