If You’re Gonna Play In Texas… you’ve gotta have a field in the band.
We live in a digital first world. Social interaction, entertainment, news intake and essential needs are all being fulfilled online. Corporate campaigns have taken note, designing low-cost strategies for education and advocacy. But these interactions are hollow, matched by the next highest bidder for ad space. You cannot win a tough campaign from behind a keyboard. Trust is built through handshakes and local relationships.
Strategic communications campaigns are more demanding and sophisticated than ever before, because breaking through the noise is hard work. What was once an intense focus on media relations must now include professional research to gain a clear understanding of the environment, digital mobilization and most importantly, localized community engagement. Establishing partnerships, communicating clearly and consistently, and mobilizing advocates is critical to win. In a period where no one knows what to believe or who to trust, respected local voices are critical to validating a position, lending credibility to messages, and shaping the opinions of stakeholders and policy makers.
Boots on the Ground
A growing list of America’s largest and most successful companies are moving away from a national top-down view where every market is examined through the same lens. Instead, these companies are customizing communications strategies for local relevance. The program is more complicated and requires intense manpower. However, the juice is worth the squeeze.
Cultivating relationships and building consensus takes time – it requires a professional, authentic and localized touch. It is not a job for the short order cook, and it cannot be accomplished overnight.
In Texas We Shake Hands
Grasstops mobilization works because local influencers (like the media, local elected officials and other major stakeholders) want to hear from local voices, relevant to their communities, not dime-a-dozen think tanks and talking heads. Context and perspective presented by credible local voices is far more authentic, persuasive and newsworthy.
How does a campaign leverage advocacy education? Personal relationships. A local presence has never been more important. The media is saturated with coverage on the pandemic, civil unrest, the reopening of schools, presidential politics, college football and hurricanes. These circumstances dominate the attention of newsrooms, as well as decision makers, and can make it appear impossible for a local or regional issue-oriented campaign to gain traction or move the dial. The key to unlocking this puzzle is found in identifying and working alongside people who hold the local relationships, have earned local credibility and possess unique local knowledge.
Different Regions, Same Currency
There is not a statewide blueprint for operating in Texas. The many regions of our state have diverse personalities and various industries that drive their economies. Political leanings vary and that impacts local policy. The dense urban settings and vast rural areas of Texas have one important thing in common: Local voices are the most respected voices.
Texas is a big place that is proud to boast one of the largest economies in world. Our state is rich in local relationships and navigating the critical nuances of each community. Some firms casually refer to this as grassroots and grasstops activities, but we view it as so much more.
For more than a decade we have cultivated the finest network of field operatives in Texas. They are former agency owners, chiefs of staff to elected officials, press operators for major companies or community outreach specialists that have been in the trenches. Their experience translates to local expertise. Our field team is unmatched in the state. We deploy this network for local intelligence gathering, regional communications and issues management.
In Texas, handshakes (or at least fist bumps), still mean more than Facebook or Twitter posts, and our network stands ready to lean into local issues.
We win because we understand and shape the landscape on the ground, not because we have lobbed news releases or digital ads from afar.