Client: Unlock Our Jobs Coalition – a coalition of business, labor, agriculture and tourism organizations working to prevent the Chicago locks from being closed in the wake of the perceived threat of Asian carp invading the waterway system.
Objective: Execute a public relations/public affairs campaign to educate the public, media and government leaders about the enormous negative economic impact of closing the locks and minimize the scare tactics surrounding the perceived threat of Asian carp.
Strategy: In early 2010, our firm was hired to serve as state director for this campaign, focused on educating the public and media about the issue and shifting the debate to demonstrate to demonstrate the crushing economic impact to nearly every industry in Illinois if the locks were closed. At the same time, our campaign also refuted the shaky scientific findings that were creating panic about Asian carp. We helped the Coalition recruit members to show solidarity among the key sectors of the economy, identified strong messaging to use in the media, worked closely with reporters covering the issue to generate positive stories and placed opinion pieces on why the locks must stay open.
Results: Our firm successfully executed a public relations/public affairs campaign to educate the public, media and government leaders about the enormous negative economic impact of closing the locks. In early May, 2010, the process of injecting our voice in the media began to turn the tide and reshape the debate surrounding Asian carp. Key story placements with Chicago and downstate media outlets helped spread the message of support for keeping the locks open. Ultimately, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it had no intention of closing the locks. In December, 2010, Judge Robert M. Dow of the U.S. District Court in Chicago ruled the locks would remain open and operate as usual. In 2011, Mac Strategies Group won a “Golden Trumpet Award” from the Publicity Club of Chicago in connection with this campaign.
Client: Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (ICADP), a grassroots membership organization reflecting a wide variety of organizations across the state of Illinois committed to educating the public about the flaws and injustices in the Illinois capital punishment system and promoting humane alternatives to the punitive death penalty system.
Objective: Execute a statewide campaign to raise public awareness, generate media support and build momentum for lawmakers to pass legislation to repeal the death penalty in Illinois.
Strategy: Our firm crafted a multi-faceted campaign to show skeptical media this wasn't another abolition movement going nowhere, while educating editorial boards whose advocacy would play a significant role in convincing lawmakers the time was right for this legislation. The goal was to develop a focused message on a controversial issue that spurs momentum and shows public support for abolition without motivating critics to wage a full-scale war against the measure until we secured our behind the scenes support. We developed a winning message with a wide-ranging strategy that specifically and successfully targeted and influenced key legislative votes. We responded quickly and effectively to criticism from prosecutors opposing the effort, keeping the Coalition focused on the task at hand while putting opponents on the defensive.
Results: Our team helped the coalition go from the sidelines to victors in just a few short months by implementing aggressive, strong messaging and a calculated statewide media campaign. We secured overwhelmingly positive coverage from an originally skeptical media on an incredibly divisive issue, with our aggressive campaign dwarfing responses from prosecutors who opposed our effort. In total, we secured more than 20 editorials supporting abolition, many at critical times in the legislative consideration process. Dozens of stories were written about the effort, many of them focused on the unprecedented bid to end the death penalty once and for all after 10 years of limbo. The unprecedented media attention resulted in an abolition bill reaching the Governor's desk for the very first time, putting Illinois on the national stage making it a leader in the historic push to end state-sponsored executions. In the end, the bill was signed into law, shocking many political insiders who thought the day would never come. In 2011, Mac Strategies Group won a "Golden Trumpet Award" from the Publicity Club of Chicago in connection with this campaign.
Client: Chicago Retail Merchants Association (CRMA), a committee of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) dedicated to protecting the retail industry in the City of Chicago.
Objective: Generate awareness and raise the profile for the CRMA through promoting data discovered through conducting a series of polls during the historic 2011 Mayoral Election.
Strategy: Chicago retailers employ 1 out of 5 people in the City of Chicago and contribute a significant amount of revenue to the local economy. It was important City Hall understand who retailers are and the
issues impacting their industry. Coinciding with the public and media interest in the 2011 Mayoral Election, CRMA chose to conduct a series of polls throughout the campaign surrounding voter tendencies and released the data to the public. A dual strategy of releasing the polls at important times during the campaign, coupled with an aggressive public relations effort connecting the polling with top political and news media outlets, propelled the CRMA to the forefront of decision makers and media.
Results: The polling conducted throughout the course of the campaign was covered extensively by the media and resulted in both candidates (Mayoral and Aldermanic) seeking out the CRMA to establish a dialogue throughout the course of the campaign. By engaging in the public discourse surrounding the race, CRMA not only introduced itself to a new audience, but were branded as a savvy political player among decision makers in City Hall.
Client: Chicago Slaughter, professional indoor football team (Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL) – 2009)
Objective: Implement a strategy to attract top-tier media attention and brand the Chicago Slaughter as a credible sports entity for Chicago sports fans as they strived to make history in bringing home a championship capping off an unprecedented perfect season.
Strategy: This arena football team was making waves in the league, taking a 14-0 record into the 2009 playoffs, but it was struggling making a splash with both the public and the media. In just their third season of competition, this little known team was on the verge of doing something no other Chicago sports team had accomplished by achieving a championship in an undefeated season. However, few people were aware of the great record and achievement of the team. The Chicago Slaughter reached out to Mac Strategies Group heading into the post-season hoping to boost publicity surrounding the team’s success and drive attention to their post-season play. Our firm implemented an aggressive media campaign to promote the success of the Chicago Slaughter as they strived to make history in bringing home a championship capping off an unprecedented perfect season.
Results: Within 36 hours of being hired, we secured coverage of the team in the top two newspapers, top two radio stations and the top television station in the Chicagoland area. Mac Strategies Group secured earned media hits for every identified media target outlined by the Slaughter Organization – targets that had eluded the organization prior to retaining our services. A blog that had covered the team all year noticed the immediate change in coverage commenting: “Amazingly, the alleged real media decided to show up this past Saturday as the Tribune, Daily Herald and Sun-Times each had stories throughout the week and sent reporters to the game.” Overall, the exposure garnered by our firm’s efforts was the highest level of earned media in franchise history. In 2010, Mac Strategies Group won a “Silver Trumpet Award” from the Publicity Club of Chicago in connection with this campaign.
Client: The Chase Group /The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss; “Dr. Seuss for President” Art Exhibition
Objective: Develop a strong media campaign to promote the political art of Dr. Seuss through implementing the “Dr. Seuss for President” art exhibition media tour in concert with targeted local galleries in four separate media markets across the United Sates (California Bay Area, Denver, Atlanta, Washington, D.C.).
Strategy: In 2008, Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ official art licensee, The Chase Group, tapped Mac Strategies Group, Inc. to implement a series of innovative media tours at select galleries throughout the United States in conjunction with the release of political art penned by Dr. Seuss before his death. In concert with The Chase Group, we developed the politically themed “Dr. Seuss for President” art exhibition coinciding with the historic 2008 Presidential election. Our firm’s media tours incorporated traditional media relations efforts coupled with elements of a political campaign including neighborhood rallies, campaign buttons and home-made signs.
Results: Mac Strategies Group, Inc. conducted a widely successful set of media tours throughout four separate media markets promoting an unknown commodity – the political art of Dr. Seuss. The tours garnered record media exposure for the galleries and Dr. Seuss Art at both local and national levels including broadcast television, daily and weekly print news stories, positive art reviews, features in magazines and a vast array of calendar and event listings. C-SPAN did a special segment with our Denver gallery on the Presidential campaign of Dr. Seuss in connecting with the 2008 Democratic Convention being held in the city during the same time as our exhibit. Due to our firm’s successful planning and execution of the Dr. Seuss for President art exhibition media campaign, Mac Strategies Group, Inc. has been tapped to implement additional campaigns for The Chase Group/Dr. Seuss Enterprises over the past few years. In 2009, Mac Strategies Group won a “Silver Trumpet Award” from the Publicity Club of Chicago in connection with this campaign.
Client: The Regional Answer to Canadian National (TRAC), a Coalition comprised of more than thirty communities opposed to the proposed transaction by Canadian National Railway (CN) to purchase Illinois’ Elgin Joliet & Eastern (EJ&E) Rail Line causing a dramatic increase in rail traffic throughout the suburban area surrounding the City of Chicago.
Objective: Develop and execute an aggressive public affairs campaign to raise awareness of the negative impacts to communities and residents resulting from a potential railway merger.
Strategy: The U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) has historically approved railway acquisitions in an expeditions manner without much fanfare from the public or Congress. The goal set by TRAC was to raise awareness of the significant detriment this merger would bring to residents of the impacted region with a hope of both delaying the acquisition and/or increasing the amount of mitigation efforts required to be made by CN. While a handful of communities had been working independently against the proposed acquisition, the tremendous impact to the affected areas was not penetrating the media in the region to spur action by lawmakers who would need to take the fight to Congress to delay the federal ruling. Our firm introduced the Coalition and its regional issues to television, radio, print reporters and editorial boards in an effort to generate media support for the lobbying effort. We identified and created media opportunities to generate television, radio and print coverage throughout the region on a consistent basis, including securing placement of opinion editorials and letters-to-the-editor from elected officials and residents of the impacted communities. Due to our firm’s vast experience working with Capitol Hill, we were also able to provide counsel on matters related to legislative strategy and collaborate with Congressional offices to increase our opportunities to engage the media.
Results: In mid July, 2008, Mac Strategies Group, Inc. was hired to conduct a strategic public relations campaign on behalf of this newly formed coalition; five months later, nearly 700 media articles had been written by every major newspaper in the effected region citing this story as one of the most controversial and top news stories of 2008. Crain’s Chicago Business, the premier business publication in the Chicagoland area, dedicated an entire editorial page in August to opposing views of the acquisition and consistently covered the dispute. Subsequently, the ongoing attention resulted in an October 20th letter-to-the-editor criticizing the publication for dedicating too much space to our arguments. National and Capitol Hill media coverage included USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Associated Press, Roll Call, Congressional Quarterly, Forbes and Bloomberg News. Numerous newspapers issued editorials against the CN/EJ&E purchase, including one publication specifically mentioning that attention to this issue was dramatically increased in the last 5 months (coinciding with the hiring of our firm). The culmination of our efforts resulted in the U.S. Surface and Transportation Board indicating on several occasions that they had witnessed an “unprecedented” amount of opposition/attention to the issue, including having received more than 9,500 individual comments and several thousand more in petition campaigns. In 2009, Mac Strategies Group won a “Golden Trumpet Award” from the Publicity Club of Chicago and was awarded a “2010 Golden Bridge Award” for Issues Management campaign of the year from the national Golden Bridge Business America Awards in connection with this campaign.
Client: Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools (IARSS), an organization representing the dozens of elected leaders of Regional Offices of Education, which provide a variety of key services to school and touch the lives of more than 2 million students and families each year.
Objective: Develop and execute a campaign illustrating a clear case for why protecting the Association’s $13 million in state funding is critical to educating children; funding would mean deep pain for Illinois schools, students and families.
Strategy: In February 2011, Gov. Pat Quinn proposed eliminating $13 million in state funding for nearly four dozen regional offices of education around the state. The heads of those offices, represented by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, turned to our firm to raise media and public awareness of how the budget cut would actually cause much more harm than good. Our firm timed a strategic news conference for a week when the legislature was not in session during late March, taking advantage of a more captive Statehouse press corps. We prepared the designated speakers well for tough questions and presented a focused, clear message about their value to the state's education system. With our extensive background and working knowledge of Statehouse media operations, we were able to determine interest would be strong, anticipating roughly a dozen print, TV and radio outlets turning out to hear the message.
Results: Media coverage was extensive in print, radio and television broadcasts throughout the state from Chicago to Carbondale, including a wire story by the Associated Press. The Illinois Statehouse News, a wire service providing print and video to outlets statewide, did two stories and including several video interviews with regional superintendents on hand at the news conference. Since the time of the news conference, the proposed budget cut has joined a number of ideas proposed by Quinn that face real skepticism as the legislature puts together a new budget. In 2012, Mac Strategies Group won a “Golden Trumpet Award” from the Publicity Club of Chicago in connection with this campaign.