Public Affairs Roundtable: Search for common ground [Extended]

Navigating gridlock, overcoming legislative challenges, and assessing this administration's outreach efforts were top of the agenda as industry leaders gathered at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, for this FleishmanHillard-hosted roundtable.

-Kathleen Ambrose, SVP of government affairs, Siemens
-Kris Balderston, GM, Washington office, FleishmanHillard
-Tom Collamore, SVP of communications and strategy, US Chamber of Commerce
-Jon Haber, adjunct professor, public affairs, Georgetown University
-John Hishta, SVP of campaigns, AARP
-William McCarren, executive director, National Press Club
-Hilary Rosen, MD, SKDKnickerbocker
-Douglas Smith, EVP and GM, Washington office, MWW
-Julian Teixeira, director of communications, National Council of La Raza

An evolving discipline
Frank Washkuch (PRWeek):
How has the definition of public affairs evolved?

Kris Balderston (FleishmanHillard): It’s far more global and solutions-oriented now. It’s bringing in different and new technologies. When I was at the State Department, we often spoke about "the power to convene," so public affairs is also more collaborative. It’s not necessarily who you know, but how many people you know and how many different players are in a particular issue you can solve.

John Hishta (AARP): The tactics are changing rapidly, particularly as it relates to technology. At the end of the day, it’s ultimately about convincing some person or entity they need to make a decision about an issue and the public needs to get engaged in that process somewhere along the way to help push it one way or another.

Tom Collamore (US Chamber of Commerce): Public affairs is the positioning of your product, in our case ideas and the brand. Relationships, alliances, and networks are as important as ever, as is having a strategy of constructive engagement.

Kathleen Ambrose (Siemens): I’m from a large, industrial conglomerate with 400,000 people in 190 countries. To me, public affairs is a complete misnomer. It is an amalgam of all sorts of different departments with particularly different agendas and metrics by which they are measured.

Douglas Smith (MWW): If government relations and PR had a child, that kid would be public affairs, which brings together some of the best of both. In this particular climate, neither the traditional government relations nor PR approaches are working as effectively as they used to. As we watch international conglomerates battle, particularly in the federal space as they seek contracts, it’s a different way of doing business. The public affairs angle brings to life the tactics you need in each.

William McCarren (National Press Club): We must think about how the public has changed over the last years. We’re now dealing with issues that weren’t on the table before and expanding the field for what that means. That will be a challenge to meet with technology and messaging, which actually makes this an exciting time.

Julian Teixeira (National Council of La Raza): You used to do public affairs at the national office and you dealt with which government entity you wanted to change. Social media has really given us the ability to involve our community and constituents, whether it’s tweeting, organizing a rally, or sending out letters. Technology has enabled us to get more grassroots involvement into the public affairs space.

Jon Haber (Georgetown): Public affairs used to be about how we shape legislation, which is still important. Now we think a lot about regulation, positioning our clients, and how to sell to the federal government, which is the largest marketplace in the world.

Another interesting facet is how public affairs is beginning to impact corporate reputation. There was a time when business’ only purpose was to make money for shareholders. Now CEOs come to Washington or go to Brussels thinking about how to use issues to talk to their customers to show what kind of business it is. Walmart is a great example in how it has changed its policies to really build and shape its reputation.

Legislative challenges
Washkuch (PRWeek):
Lyndon Johnson remains widely admired for getting civil rights legislation passed 50 years ago. Government today is largely criticized for not being nearly as effective in passing legislation. Why has it gotten so difficult?

Collamore (Chamber of Commerce): The increased polarization in DC and in the two parties has markedly contributed to this situation – and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue own this. It’s a systemic issue in Washington.

In some of the issues the Chamber is tackling, we truly seek the common ground and to do the unexpected. The current immigration debate is an example. No one really expected us to wade into this debate the way we have. It’s somewhat counterintuitive to most of our political alliances. However, that’s what it takes.

You can’t get compromise or progress in this town unless you have a relationship. Trust, which is something we’re frankly short on right now, comes from that.

Ambrose (Siemens): It’s the human element. If you take the human element as the organizing principle for what we’re missing in Washington, it’s not just the relationships. It’s the credibility of the individual people with whom you’re trying to build a relationship. What we’ve done by gerrymandering the districts in a certain way is eliminate the option of having individuals who are truly elected [for the best reasons].

We’ve lost that human element of someone who is really good at what they do, who cares about the policy aspects, and who works really hard to build relationships.

The best elected officials have a solid background in the public policymaking apparatus and the ability to understand the complexity of the problems. That gives you the credibility for someone to want to get to know you and work with you, regardless of what side of the aisle you’re on.

Hishta (AARP): Three major occurrences have put us in this place. The first was the 2000 Bush/Gore election. That just changed the nature of this town in terms of trust and credibility and how that election was ultimately reconciled.

Second, the healthcare debate completely polarized Washington, if it wasn’t already. Third, there are no moderate Democrats or Republicans left. The parties have philosophically aligned with each other to the point where you have a liberal party and a conservative party.

With all this, the ability to compromise and have leaders step up is really difficult, particularly when success is sometimes defined by lack of legislation being passed.

Teixeira (La Raza): There is also a reality element. There are 55 million Latinos in the US, with 190,000 born in the US every year. We’re not all immigrants. That’s a humungous electorate coming.

My organization created the Mobilize to Vote program to get Latinos to register, vote, and participate in the political process. However, there is a disconnect on both sides as to whom they serve. Look at California. It is now minority majority and that will have a huge impact on elections. Still, a lot of people aren’t taking this seriously. In doing so, they are losing the reality element of what the US is and is becoming.

Hilary Rosen (SKDKnickerbocker): I’m going to challenge the premise a bit by noting big things have gotten done. Look at the beginning of President Obama’s first term and the stimulus package. The TARP bailout saved the economy and energized an electorate that had heretofore not been energized. Stimulus managed to happen because people were still scared about the economy.  

Smith (MWW): To quote Rahm Emanuel, a good crisis is always a good time to take advantage of something. The Civil Rights Movement was a great example of that. In the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson was presented with an opportunity to move a piece of legislation that had stalled out. He had tremendous legislative knowledge and relationships on the Hill, but was also incredibly smart politically and knew the window to move it was right then.

One of the challenges in this era of Twitter and blogs is people are terrified to move out briskly in any direction because they’re afraid of what will come up.

One of the current administration’s challenges in finding the balance is they took office at a very rocky point. The economy was fragile. We were trying to extricate ourselves out of two wars. The real fear was how do we balance the long-term agenda against the challenges across the street. And look at where we find ourselves today in the transportation space, for example. There’s a real crisis in that the Highway Trust Fund will go bankrupt, but nobody is willing to take a chance on re-looking at the gas tax that has not been adjusted since 1993.

Everyone in Congress spends lots of time on Capitol Hill. If they’re not looking over their shoulder, they are across the street trying to raise money. Even those in safe districts struggle to get things done.

Haber (Georgetown): Lyndon Johnson served at a very different time and was able to push a piece of legislation that took many years to move. Now you have C-SPAN, for example. If anybody gives a speech on the House floor, it’s immediately picked up and it goes into a 30-second attack ad on the other side.

There’s also a convergence of politics and public affairs. I come from a world where it’s a lot easier to vilify your opponent than beat them on an issue. And the political world has also brought the concept of endless campaigns, the spending on those campaigns, and the ability to knock people out to win legislation.

Balderston (Fleishman): The healthcare legislation is a huge accomplishment that people will look back on in 10, 15, 20 years the way we do the Civil Rights Act. There was leadership in pushing for healthcare.

These uncommon alliances are a key part of the new public affairs. I recall a 10-year period when I was with Sen. George Mitchell (D-ME) when he was majority leader and then I went back with Sen. Clinton (D-NY). In that decade, Sens. Mitchell and Bob Dole (R-KS) would go in the back room, argue for two weeks on the floor, and something would come out of it. I remember three out of five days a week, you’d go have lunch with a Republican friend. It really has become much meaner now. There’s just not the environment to get together.

When youngsters talk to me about politics, I always direct them to Taking Charge, a book by Michael Beschloss that captured LBJ’s transcripts from 1963-64. In the book, you can see how often he was talking to Congress and how often he was involved in their personal sides. Talk about building trusted relationships. The short-term, transactional structure we’ve created has hurt long-term relationships.

Collamore (Chamber of Commerce): I started in the administration in 1981. President Reagan used to take his homework up to the residence and come back in the morning with page after page of handwritten notes of his calls to Congress – Republicans and Democrats – on every issue. There were bipartisan meetings of Congressional leadership in the White House’s Cabinet Room every week for seven-and-a-half years.

That has been lost. There are some fundamental issues everyone agrees must be tackled. We need to find that sweet spot of political cover for everybody to go do it. Hopefully, we don’t have to wait until after the next presidential election.

Rosen (SKD): I talk less about politics with my clients these days and more about their own personal engagement. It’s very much a responsibility of a much broader community than just Congress and their political campaigns. We look at how business leaders are working with and engaging their employees on a public affairs agenda.

The key is finding ways to engage everybody in an institution and have everyone feel a little more connected to the public interest, as well as the private interest of their business.

A good example is the American Airlines-US Airways merger. There was significant opposition of this merger at the Justice Department, but this merger was unique. Company leaders made the decision early on that there would be employee benefits across the board, not just the payout for the top guys. It wasn’t about money, though, as much as it was about engagement. Leaders figured out ways for the employees to share their work experience with Washington in a manner that ended up bringing the Justice Department around. This proves there are those moments where things can get done. We have to look beyond the traditional players and find other allies, starting with our own employees.

Diverse perspectives
Washkuch (PRWeek):
Has the increasingly diverse face of the US population changed the way public affairs is conducted?

Teixeira (La Raza): We work with all sorts of different partners in the public affairs realm. Latinos come from all over – Puerto Rico, Cuba, South America, and Central America. So even in our community we’re very diverse.

Hispanics also spend $1 trillion a year in the US economy, but only 10% of US businesses reach out to the Latino community. The reality is we are the future of the US. One in every six children that are 18 is Latino. One in every four children in elementary school is Latino – and that will grow as the average Latino woman is 27, so she still is having children. As a society, we need to start accepting the demographic reality.

We’re a country of immigrants. We’re the most diverse nation on the planet, yet our government, corporations, and many institutions don’t want to accept that reality and move forward with it.

Haber (Georgetown): In the public affairs world, we have not really spoken to larger diverse audiences. In our world, we often don’t do anything until there’s a crisis. The fact the country is changing demographically is not enough. Sometimes the train has to run over us before people jump into action.

Balderston (Fleishman): You’d be amazed at the corporate clients we have now that understand diversity equals innovation. If you don’t have a diverse workforce, you won’t do well in the global economy. Also, 80 million Americans are first and second generation. And if you want to look at the economic power: $100 billion from this country in remittances overseas.

Hishta (AARP): Our marketplace is the 50-plus community, so we’d be crazy not to understand demographics are changing dramatically. An issue we’re getting heavily involved in is caregiving and long-term care and the concept of what that means from the perspective of an Anglo- versus a Hispanic-American. It’s almost two different mindsets to some degree.

On the political level, the trick will be whoever comes along in either party who can change the paradigm and figure out how to connect the dots with these diverse communities. Whoever can mobilize that on some level will be remarkably successful in politics for the next 20 years.

Ambrose (Siemens): The successful programs on this front truly have an organic element to them. As our company tries to figure out how to communicate in a way that appeals to diversity in the populations we’re dealing with in those 190 countries, it’s still very much a maturation process. You must get the population incorporated into the management structure of a company before you can really be successful at it.

Smith (MWW): The key is the transition from feel-good to self-interest. When people realize it’s truly in their self-interest is when massive change happens. You see that in the travel and tourism industry. When it realized the average spend in the LGBT community was 2.3 times that of the straight community, they massively shifted how they marketed.

On Capitol Hill, things start to move when it truly comes down to self-interest, whether it’s in the legislative cycle or business. When it means you can sell more widgets, adjustments will be made. As an agency, if you don’t diversify, you’re out of business. The same trickles its way up to multinational conglomerates. Innovate or perish.

The gridlock effect
Washkuch (PRWeek):
How has the continuing gridlock in Washington impacted the public affairs sector? Can it be navigated effectively?

Balderston (Fleishman): We have all seen the evolution from strategic philanthropy to corporate responsibility to creating shared value. You have to find uncommon alliances. People must become professionals in the public/private partnership world.

At the State Department, we created the Office of Global Partnerships. It was a We Are The World kind of office, but the reality is we brought in half-a-billion dollars trying to find the sweet spot between what people wanted to do around the world. You must find that shared value to encourage people to work together to get things done.

Hishta (AARP): Sometimes in Washington, we forget the long view of what happens. You must be a little patient when it comes to some of the bigger issues. If you look at the past 20 years and some of the major things that have occurred, everything from welfare reform to the creation of the Homeland Security Department to TARP to the healthcare stimulus, those are not small things. That’s a 20-year period.

Everybody always looks back to the good ol’ days of LBJ, but Truman was the first one to sponsor Medicare legislation in 1946 – and it didn’t happen until 1965. Life isn’t going to change in a six- or eight-month period. We get so caught up in the now and gridlock just happens to be the meal of the moment in this town. There should be some optimism things could get done down the road.

Even in this era, the President and Congress cut a deal on debt reduction. That was fairly successful when you look back on it. Billions of dollars were taken out of the deficit and the debt. I’m not so sure there is this overriding gridlock that will stay around for the next five or 10 years.

Collamore (Chamber of Commerce): This year’s midterms are an opportunity. The way we’re approaching it at the Chamber is if you’re out there campaigning to come here, shut the government down again, and bring things to a grinding halt, not only will we not support you, we’ll oppose you. We want to elect folks who want to come here and constructively try to move the ball forward. We want to send that message to the extremists.

Ambrose (Siemens): I agree there is a normal timeframe [for things to get done] that we’ve forgotten about. However, the media puts something out every hour or sooner. People are tweeting and news comes out sooner. This is all pressing the concept that there must be something accomplished at 9 o’clock and then a new thing at 11 o’clock. It doesn’t happen that way. The system of government is set up so that when you want to move big things, it takes a lot to bring the country and the political leaders together. Sometimes we’ll get there later rather than sooner, but it’s OK as long as we’re of a good mind, good intentions, and there’s integrity in the system.

Rosen (SKD): From a public affairs perspective, it’s hard to think about big strategies to actually move big things. There is room in Washington for smaller things that don’t go to the polarization or partisanship. There’s room in Washington for your own piece of the larger issue.

Moreover, big things do take a long time, but narratives set in on each of those early. Sometimes they get cemented quickly, so it’s overcoming those hurdles. The issue is that the longer things take, the more likely bigger problems get cemented. In turn, it becomes harder to develop a fresher perspective.

Smith (MWW): What’s really interesting is the sizeable disconnect between K Street and Main Street. The average person wakes up in the morning and thinks about whether there is fresh milk in the refrigerator and will their children get a decent education. They might talk and think about gridlock, but they’re not going that deep into it.

The challenge members of Congress face is that most people in the electorate increasingly view them as not being part of the daily solutions they need. The more Congress continues to argue back and forth, the more people will tune them out and simply look to find solutions themselves.

From the corporate perspective, the biggest issue for Fortune 100 companies is certainty. Even if a bad policy happens, they will look at the long term and come up with a new solution. [A gridlocked] Congress is doing the greatest disservice to the economy because big companies are a lot slower to make major decisions due to not knowing what kind of action they must take.

McCarren (National Press Club): When you look for examples in Washington of overcoming gridlock, I recall a recent event where Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg appeared together. Their shared love of opera paved the way for a friendship.

There’s not the social interaction in Washington. People aren’t finding common interests, even if they’re not about policy, so they can overcome some of the poison. Everything can’t get worked out over opera, of course, but finding the time to figure these things out is important.

Teixeira (La Raza): Taking the Latino community perspective, gridlock creates a view that Congress is not part of the solution. Immigration reform is a perfect example. Somehow in the Senate, through all of the uncommon elements and alliances, we have a bill. A lot of our communications work is pushing the message that the House has gridlock and won’t take this bill to be voted on. The perception is that for some reason it cannot get out of this gridlock, Congress is not moving forward, and the solutions the Latino community really needs are not there.

Haber (Georgetown): One of our great failings in Washington is we don’t pay attention to history. If you look at the history of this country at any period, it takes a long time to get anything done, which is generally good. Things that happen quickly often have to be redone.

Let’s revisit Hilary’s earlier comments about the narrative getting locked in.

That creates an opportunity for communicators because you have debates where it’s trench warfare. One side says this. The other says that. The fight over abortion is one of those classic examples. You’re making the same arguments that have been made for years, but it gives communications pros an opportunity to reframe debates, to change the way people look at it.

Gridlock is really two sides who have blinders on and can’t see beyond the end of their noses. If you can change the narrative, which is tough, you can often create new outcomes and opportunities.

The administration’s performance
Washkuch (PRWeek):
From a communications perspective, what have been this White House’s successes and shortcomings?

Teixeira (La Raza): It has reached out to the Latino community and taken this demographic’s growth seriously. The White House has listened to the issues and is trying to appoint Latinos into high positions in government, as well as create and work toward programs that will be beneficial to the community.

Haber (Georgetown): This administration has done some great things in terms of communicating and setting the tone of the debate. They’ve also done some things not so well. But if you look back at previous administrations, nobody wins all the time.

Sometimes we’re tougher on this White House than we ought to be. We forget other administrations have had their communications challenges as well.

Balderston (Fleishman): We’re caught in the revolution of communications, so anybody who occupies the White House now will have challenges. There is also an issue of high expectations. Remember January 20, 2009? On that day, everybody thought all this is going to get done. There was great optimism, but the reality of Washington hit hard and the President started from a very difficult place.

This White House has had successes in healthcare and bringing the economy back. It has tried some new things. Some have worked, others haven’t, but it has taken risks and tried to go down new avenues in communications.

Rosen (SKD): The White House got a lot done in those first two years. It’s been harder since and the politics have made it so. When you have a communicator as great as the President, the PR pros around him struggle from an analytic point of view. When is the right time to bring him out? What are the proper opportunities to use more of the tools around the President? The added challenge in a political environment is the rapid-fire response happens, often prebuttal as opposed to rebuttal.

In large degree, this White House has succeeded in its communications as we saw with the President’s reelection, but much less so when it comes to moving Congress. It seems he has spent significantly less time talking to people in Washington and much more time with communications strategies that get him outside Washington. But it’s hard. The White House communications staff is smaller than any one of the Fortune 50 companies.

Ambrose (Siemens): When I view the White House’s communications strategy around healthcare, it leaves me sad because it missed an opportunity. I never saw them explain healthcare. President Obama did his one speech in Congress and laid some things out, but they had tools. Mrs. Obama is extraordinary at explaining the healthcare system to military families. She could have been the person who explained it to the rest of the country. Or it could have been divided up in some way so everyone in the country had the sound bite. They could have come up with the three or four taglines that would have made a difference in people’s lives.

They didn’t use that opportunity as a coalescing force with the country. Obama ran the 2012 election brilliantly. He has that capability and didn’t use it for a purpose that he wants to be his legacy.

Rosen (SKD): This gets right to the challenge in our industry between earned and paid media. From the time healthcare legislation was pending in Congress to about six months before the effective date, something like $650 million was spent attacking that legislation by its opponents in paid advertising. And in favor of it – from organized labor, the few corporates that were supportive, and some of the pharma companies – was $90 million.

When we think about the impact of paid advertising and how communications works, some things you just can’t overcome. It was an entire White House communications operation just devoted to finding earned media opportunities for healthcare. However, when you have that onslaught of paid media, it’s an extraordinary challenge. Moreover, there has never been the kind of paid media in favor of it that there was against it.

Smith (MWW): This administration has not always been great at claiming success. I worked in the national security space, which had tremendous accomplishments. This White House got us out of two wars. The number of terrorists taken off the market is unbelievable. Yet they seemed very hesitant to ever get out there and talk about them.

There are things you can’t discuss, of course, but it was an area where they could have built up a whole lot more in the bank they could have used in other places. And this isn’t about making the mistake President Bush did with the "Mission accomplished" sign. It’s about explaining to people why you’re better off and why you’re safer in so many ways. That puzzled me.

The healthcare plan will be studied for years to come. Despite $650 million of spending trying to defeat it, the message finally went out there. But this administration could have done – and still has time to do – a better job of taking credit for the successes it had in stabilizing the economy, in improving our image overseas and growing travel and tourism, and national security.

McCarren (National Press Club): When you have that much money spent on one side of a debate, you really need earned media to work for you. There were some mistakes in communications, but some people in leadership and the media don’t appreciate the number of legal actions taken against the reporters. Subpoenas of phone records. Once you get into that, repair has to be done and it’s delicate, difficult work. They’ve lost, not an ally, but a fair shake they might have been able to get had they handled that better.

Rosen (SKD): The media covering politics today covers the process, but not the substance. I’m at CNN and I can tell you 70% of the healthcare coverage, maybe 80%, was about the fight and 20% was about the substance of what the changes would do and what they meant. The media doesn’t necessarily see its job as being the informer of policy choices, unless that’s the goal of its story. They don’t view it as a broader responsibility.

Teixeira (La Raza): On the healthcare issue, a lot of our interviews on English-language media were about our feelings on the website not being ready and all this sensationalism. When on Spanish-language media, though, it was very much about what is this going to mean to the community? How do they need to register for it? It goes to the perspective.

When I craft a media plan, we look at that. For example, for the midterm elections and English-language media, we focus on the fact our vote will count. For Spanish-language media, the message is on the need to register, vote, and participate.

Place for social media
Washkuch (PRWeek):
Where does social media fit into your strategy? How has it amplified your efforts?

Ambrose (Siemens): From a pure government affairs perspective, members of Congress care about how many jobs we’re bringing to their district. They don’t really care what social media is saying about whether we’re going to pass the production-tax credit for promoting more wind farms. If that credit is passed, what they care about is whether Siemens is going to build, assemble, export, or import a wind farm. The social media aspect of a specific lobbying job hasn’t really helped us. We don’t engage in it. For the larger, bigger-picture issues, of course it’s a huge area we pay attention to. However, I have not found it specifically influencing a member of Congress about whether he or she will support something.

Smith (MWW): It permeates everything we do, but it’s as much about how we get the message out as how it is being received. Whether it’s in politics, straight media campaigns, the errant tweet or blog post is as much a story as what you were trying to get out there. As I used to joke about when I was in government advising my young staff, nothing good comes from a Facebook posting after 10 at night. Many a business or civic leader should take their Twitter accounts down and learn how to properly use them. With many of our clients, despite our best efforts to educate them on how to use it, we inevitably make our money cleaning up the messes from improper use.

McCarren (National Press Club): We like networking at the National Press Club – and not just social networking. At the end of the day, the most successful business models in digital, such as Amazon, end with a guy walking your driveway and delivering a package. The digital part is really important, but so is the end part.

We see social media as an audience expander. We’ll have people tweeting during live events here. We’ll have people tweeting to draw bigger audiences here. It becomes part of the experience no matter what business you’re in. It does pose more risks, but it also brings huge, life-changing opportunities.

Teixeira (La Raza): Latinos are the highest users or fastest-growing users of cell-phone technology. We use social media tremendously as an influencing tool in the public affairs realm.

Traditional media, of course, still plays a big role. Not so much print, but TV and radio. Telemundo’s nightly news averages 7 million viewers. No English-language nightly news can say they’re reaching 7 million, or 12 million people like Univision. To inform the community and get them to activate, we need to be on TV. Radio also works really well for us. It has a huge impact on our community.

In a nutshell, we use traditional media to inform, but social media to really cause action.

Haber (Georgetown): We sometimes forget social media, which is so prevalent now, didn’t really exist when Howard Dean ran for president 10 years ago. Facebook wasn’t there. YouTube didn’t exist. Barack Obama had his nomination locked in before Twitter took hold. This whole area is evolving rapidly and there are lots of people that want to catch up, but there’s sort of the blocking and tackling, which is digital. You have to relate the two things.

We all live in our in-box. The most powerful digital communications tool is a well-crafted, well-written email that reaches your target audience. That digital communications, which is not the same as social, is a really powerful tool. People are using it to collect names, turn those people into advocates, and generate that support from your target audiences.

Balderston (Fleishman): Social media has allowed us to be more surgical and targeted in what we do and how we serve people and clients. It’s also an empowerment issue. A woman in Africa can now use her mobile phone to invest, save money, and find out what crops control her family budget. I was always amazed when I went to really obscure places by how many people said, "I follow you on Twitter." Demographically, it really is a very powerful tool.

Rosen (SKD): We use it in various ways for clients. The first is rapid response. The second is building alliances. The third would be breaking news. As we create communications plans, there’s no plan we have where an announcement doesn’t incorporate a social strategy.

The final way is to connect with reporters. Journalists are very invested in their social profile and connecting with theirs is important.

From an engagement perspective, we do a lot beyond Twitter. Facebook, Instagram, and Vine are much more effective when you want people to buy into a movement, come to an organization, or approve of what a company is doing.

Hishta (AARP): At the end of the day, you still need a message to deliver. In this case, it’s over social media. That affects everything you do, whether it be budgets, how you put together your advertising plan for digital media versus traditional media, or how you communicate to certain audiences depending on what they are more apt to use. I’m just fascinated how quickly things change. In fact, I’m not so sure emails are going to exist in three years and that something else won’t come along. Five years ago, who would have thought everybody would have had an iPad?

Collamore (Chamber of Commerce): As we’re trying to not be your grandfather’s Chamber, it’s a really important tool for reaching the new generation and younger employees, people entering the workforce, and even college students who have a very important voice.

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