Chemical trade association selects W2SKD as AOR in multimillion-dollar account

ARLINGTON, VA: The American Chemistry Council (ACC) is overhauling its communications strategy to focus more on advocacy efforts and policymaker outreach as climate legislation heads to a newly Democratic Congress.

ARLINGTON, VA: The American Chemistry Council (ACC) is overhauling its communications strategy to focus more on advocacy efforts and policymaker outreach as climate legislation heads to a newly Democratic Congress.

The trade association, which represents chemical companies in the US, selected W2SKD, a custom created partnership that includes Racepoint Group, Digital Influence Group, and Squier Knapp Dunn, as AOR in May, said Lisa Harrison, VP of communications for ACC.

W2SKD was formed to meet the digital, grassroots, advocacy, and public affairs needs of ACC, noted Larry Weber, chairman of Racepoint Group and Digital Influence Group. As a result, the Arlington, VA-based association plans to wind down its five-year national print and cable TV advertising campaign, “Essential2.”

“We just needed to focus our resources more effectively,” said Harrison, who added that the tentative annual integrated budget falls between $8 million and $12 million. “We are an advocacy organization and, again, in these times we need to enhance our advocacy.”

Although advertising is included in the account, there are no plans for a national-scale ad campaign, she said. The bulk of the work will focus on digital and traditional PR.

While ACC plans to keep the messaging it used in the “Essential2” campaign, such as promoting the chemical industry as solutions providers and the essential nature of its products, public education is no longer the focus of its communications strategy.

Member companies include Bayer, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, Dow, Eastman, Eli Lilly and Merck, Procter & Gamble, and Shell Chemicals.

“The messages need to be much more directly related to the legislative initiatives impacting our industry, as opposed to just a broad education campaign,” Harrison said.

The team at W2SKD will develop a strategy that builds on ACC's social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. It will also trim outreach to focus almost entirely on state and federal policymakers as climate legislation makes its way to Congress this summer.

In the past, ACC has targeted “opinion leaders and informed Americans, policymakers, health and science experts, employees, and site residents,” said Harrison. “Our industry needs to continue to show that we are innovative and solutions providers, in a more direct way. That's the difference.”

Major issues for ACC and its member companies include energy and climate, chemicals management, rail and transportation, chemical site security, and the tax concerns that relate to each of these issues.

ACC launched “Essential2,” a national public education campaign developed by then AORs Ogilvy PR Worldwide and Ogilvy & Mather in 2005.

When the organization issued an RFP in March, the agencies were invited to pitch and more than 40 firms, in total, responded to the request, said Harrison. A spokeswoman at Ogilvy PR deferred questions to ACC.

“We were responding very specifically to the RFP for the type of expertise they needed,” said Weber. “I don't think in this day and age a firm can have everything a client needs. It's gotten too complex so the concept of the full-service PR group is dated.”

It is the first time that the firms that make up the W2SKD partnership have worked with ACC.

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