Public Affairs Campaign of the Year 2006

Ketchum Public Affairs and the State of Connecticut: Saving SUBASE New London: Submarine Center of Excellence Targeted For Closure

Winner: Ketchum Public Affairs and the State of Connecticut: Saving SUBASE New London: Submarine Center of Excellence Targeted For Closure

High on the list of military base fears is the Department of Defense (DoD) list of recommended closures, since it's well known that inclusion usually means impending doom. So when Governor M. Jodi Rell (R-CT) learned on May 13, 2005, that Submarine Base (SUBASE) New London in Groton, the Navy's submarine center of excellence, had made the DoD's base closure list, she knew the gravity of the situation. With little time to persuade the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commissioners that the DoD had made a mistake, the bases listed were normally closed by order of the President some four months later. Ketchum Public Affairs was hired by the state of Connecticut to direct and coordinate a lobbying and communications campaign to educate BRAC commissioners on the value of SUBASE New London to the state and the nation.

An analysis of the audience showed that the BRAC commissioners would be most interested in military value, financial consequences, and national security implications of a closure. It was also decided that each morning they would receive copies of the Pentagon's Early Bird publication, a collection of BRAC-related clips. The media markets came out in force for the delegation's hearing on July 6, but it was important to keep them informed of activities at all times. Reaching the Washington influencers was a priority, since they were the ultimate decision makers. The strategy would be to convince all decision makers, reporters, and the public that this decision affected more than just the local economy; this was a matter of national security. The PR team wanted everyone to know closing the base would leave the entire Northeast without any significant operational military presence.

Ketchum designed a media outreach strategy to inundate and influence commissioners with coverage that recognized the importance of the base and the subsequent impact closure would have. The agency coordinated and staffed a 90-minute telebriefing for military/defense writers in the top 75 markets, defense trades, and inside-the-Beltway publications. Gov. Rell, Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT), and Congressman Rob Simmons (R-CT) served as principal speakers.

Four days before the vote, Op-Eds bylined by Senators Dodd, Lieberman, Congressman Simmons, and oceanographer Bob Ballard supplemented more than 30 positive stories in a race to the finish. The hard work paid off, as the BRAC Commission voted seven to one to reject the DOD's recommendation, virtually assuring that the base would remain safe. On September 15, 2005, President Bush accepted the Commission's ruling to keep the base open.

Honorable Mention: Capstrat and North Carolinians for Jobs and Progress: Amendment One – Self-financing Bonds Campaign

North Carolina had lost 180,000 manufacturing jobs within 10 years. While the state had many assets to recruit new business, local governments did not have the opportunity to use self-financing bonds to fund public projects, often needed for economic recovery. Making this possible would require voters to approve a constitutional amendment – which had been rejected by margins of 75% to 25% for the previous 20 years. With the help of Capstrat, an outreach plan included regional events to educate Chamber of Commerce directors; a bus tour with local mayors, which attracted the media; a website to serve as an information warehouse; and media events to educate the voters about Amendment One. The campaign achieved a goal 20 years in the making, and Amendment One was approved 51% to 49%.

Finalists:

Capstrat and North Carolinians for Jobs and Progress
Amendment 1 – Self-Financing Bonds Campaign

Carmichael Lynch Spong and Minnesotans For Affordable Health
Saving MinnesotaCare and Preserving Affordable Health Care

Full Court Press Communications and East Bay Coalition Against Urban Casinos
Stop Urban Gambling: Casino San Pablo

Ketchum and State of CT
Saving SUBASE New London: Submarine Center of Excel. Targeted for Closure

Off Madison Avenue and Citizens Clean Elections Commission
Making Participation Possible

Porter Novelli and US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform
Wining Passage of the Class Action Fairness Act

Sponsor:

MS&L

MS&L is one of the world's leading PR firms. We achieve our mission - to be more important to our clients - by delivering world class media relations, acting as partners and advisors, powering clients' businesses with proven methods and tools for strategic planning, corporate and product branding, corporate reputations, crisis management, and stakeholder relations. We proudly recognize this year's nominees.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in