Reaching, moving and engaging people to take action
Communication is the heart and soul of each organization and every story worth telling — and miscommunication can create significant damage that is costly, and sometimes impossible to repair. An effective outreach effort communicates focused, strategic messages to specific target audiences in both a timely and transparent manner. It goes beyond what you say and how to say it, but why you say it.
We help our clients to think through the “why,” then craft and deliver messages through a comprehensive, tailored outreach program designed to reach, move and engage the right people to take action.
Our clients routinely turn to us on large projects involving multiple groups of stakeholders to develop, implement and measure their strategic communication efforts. And often times, we know the needs of our client so well that we help identify where outreach should be taking place, thinking proactively about needs to help put the focus squarely on the issues.
We have spent the past four decades developing close relationships that are invaluable in helping to “carry the message,” and we have an acute understanding of the forces at play in the markets in which our clients operate. In short, we know the issues and we are familiar with the players — let us help tell your story.
Our approach is simple — we communicate simply and effectively to foster awareness and understanding, mitigate concerns of stakeholders or the relevant publics, and facilitate a clear, transparent dialogue among our clients and their various stakeholders.
We are outreach experts, capable of both guiding and executing communications efforts comprised of one or more of the following elements:
For large efforts or programs that involve multiple groups of stakeholders (public or private), it is imperative that outreach be structured in a way that is both proactive and interactive.
Whether it is the introduction of new public policy or the development of an infrastructure improvements program, “getting the word out” is important, but reaching the right audience is paramount.
Often times, there may be strong political and grassroots, community-based forces at work that can be overlooked in the rollout of a program, policy, or set aside for the purposes of planning.
Through our experience and expertise developed through decades of work with local, state and regional organizations — most recently serving as community outreach managers for the Green Light Plan, a $650 million infrastructure improvements program designed to increase capacity and decrease severe traffic congestion across Baton Rouge’s arterial road system — we have learned the key to success is to build and maintain those open lines of communication that are both proactive and interactive.
As issues arise, especially in the early stages of an initiative, it is imperative that all input is welcomed, opinions are solicited, and concerns are addressed. The end result of constant, interactive outreach among a project team and the stakeholders it may potentially affect is one that stakeholders may not support, but one for which they understand the basis and rationale. In addition to developing understanding, this kind of proactive outreach is also highly effective in fostering goodwill (for both the present and future). In the planning and design stages, this becomes even more imperative.
We develop easy-to-understand messages to proactively engage and educate our client’s stakeholders through a transparent, open process that fosters awareness at all levels — bringing the interests of our clients, the community and the government together into a level of consensus that becomes critical to the success of the overall effort.
Facilitation of Public Forums
Throughout the planning, design and rollout stages of any initiative, it is vital for an organization to proactively seek input, solicit opinions, and address outstanding concerns from its stakeholders through a transparent, open process. To support this, we work with our clients to design and facilitate public meetings and hearings that bring together various agendas and interests, along with the communities they each represent, to coalesce in a way that appease all involved in the decision making and public vetting process.
In our experience, the goal of a public meeting or set of public forums is simple — to help our client foster an open dialogue across political, community, and/or business channels, serving as a critical step in promoting understanding and goodwill critical to the success of any major effort or impactful initiative.
Social Media and Website Development
We create and manage both websites and social media fan pages to engage audiences who turn to the web for information. We write concise, compelling copy and create engaging, graphically appealing designs to ensure our clients’ messages stand out above the rest.
We develop speakers’ agendas, manage logistics, coordinate outreach to invitees and speakers, develop speaking points, and more for various special events, including grand openings, public meetings, press conferences, summits, rallies and launch campaigns.
We develop strategic, proactive public relations plans to enhance your image and reputation, garner support for specific issues or programs, and increase awareness about other messages of importance. And then we help you execute.
Through effective media relations, we help our clients build credibility, gain public trust and raise awareness about their issues or programs. We develop media releases, manage media inquiries, coordinate meetings with reporters and editorial boards, and develop proactive programs to secure positive coverage.
► Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority | Creating a Sustainable Future for the Gulf Coast
Louisiana is in the midst of a land loss crisis that has claimed 1,880 square miles of land since the 1930s. To address this crisis the Louisiana Legislature passed an act to create the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana (CPRA) and required it to develop a plan for a safe and sustainable coast every five years. To build upon the success of the first master plan in 2007, the state engaged SSA to manage all of the outreach and engagement efforts for the 2012 Coastal Master Plan update.
SSA coordinated all outreach, public relations, community awareness, and facilitation efforts to develop the plan, while simultaneously coordinating services among several agencies, organizations and stakeholders to gain support for the plan. In addition to driving all public and political outreach services, SSA led and facilitated multi-stakeholder decision making among various stakeholder groups to identify specific issues and challenges to address in the planning process.
SSA coordinated more than 150 presentations to civic and industry groups and 13 regional community meetings in which more than 1,500 residents, 40 state legislators and interested parties participated. The planning process generated more than 100 formal public comments during public hearings and more than 2,200 comments via email, website and mail. In addition, the plan received favorable attention from print, TV, radio and online media outlets across the nation. The legislature passed the 2012 Master Plan on May 1, 2012. Throughout the plan’s implementation, SSA will continue to work with stakeholders and community members to ensure the process addresses important issues and concerns of coastal communities.
► City of Baton Rouge, Parish of East Baton Rouge | Building the Infrastructure to Support EBRP Motorists
The Green Light Plan includes more than $650 million in City-Parish infrastructure improvements and was voted on and approved by residents of East Baton Rouge Parish in 2005. The City-Parish subsequently engaged a program management team to oversee the day-to-day management of the program and its projects, with SSA Consultants serving as the lead firm in charge of all outreach and engagement efforts.
SSA’s role as part of the Green Light Plan program management team includes working directly with the Mayor-President, Metro Council, Department of Public Works officials, the program management team, and individual project managers to consult on public awareness strategies as they relate to the roads projects and the program as a whole. SSA is responsible for all direct media inquiries, media relations, coordination with community stakeholders and media representatives on project start dates and completion dates, outreach for major road closures, community and media relations for project public meetings and informational sessions, and serving as liaisons between the project team(s) and community stakeholders during public events and informational sessions. SSA is also responsible for the design and development of materials for public issuance, including press releases, media advisories, and both program and individual project updates to the community.
The Green Light Plan’s communications, media relations, and community awareness effort has produced and included public information workshops, news broadcasts, articles, and feature stories. In 2010, Public Works Magazine, a nationally distributed industry magazine focused on the needs of public works professionals and partners along with the needs of the communities they serve, published a cover story about the innovative nature of the Green Light Plan and the success of the program to-date. SSA project team members have coordinated more than 50 public events, including public information workshops, groundbreaking and ribbon cutting ceremonies, and community outreach sessions for program and project-specific updates. Community relations has been a strong focus of the Green Light Plan since voters overwhelmingly approved it in 2005, and this will remain true moving forward as the program continues to break ground on new projects and complete existing ones throughout East Baton Rouge Parish.
► Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals | Changing the Face of Health Care Through Provider Outreach
Upon completion of designing the new coordinated care Medicaid model that was initially referred to as the “Coordinated Care Networks” model, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) engaged an outreach team comprised of SSA and two other firms to provide outreach services to develop, produce, and implement a statewide multimedia education and direct outreach campaign for providers, Medicaid recipients, and community advocates relative to the initial implementation and rollout of this new model that would become “BAYOU HEALTH.”
SSA is responsible for all provider outreach related to the rollout of BAYOU HEALTH, working with physicians and associations to educate providers across the state on these new programs, benefits, and the role they play in this new system with a strong focus on providing coordinated, preventative care to Medicaid and LaCHIP recipients in Louisiana. SSA also provide senior-level strategy services utilizing the subject matter expertise of our consultants working on the project, working directly with DHH senior leadership to facilitate programmatic outreach at all levels and foster statewide understanding of the importance of this new approach to health care amongst Medicaid and LaCHIP recipients and the providers in the medical communities that serve them.
SSA has delivered 79 provider outreach and education sessions to more than 4,000 Medicaid and LaCHIP providers across the state of Louisiana, working with representatives of the medical community and relevant associations to disseminate information about BAYOU HEALTH, including ongoing programmatic and policy updates, to members of the medical community and the recipients they serve. Through this focused approach to outreach and education, State of Louisiana leadership, including Gov. Bobby Jindal and DHH Secretary Bruce Greenstein, have acknowledged the implementation of BAYOU HEALTH as a successful one with the provider outreach model developed and led by SSA as one to emulate for future programs and initiatives within DHH.
► Louisiana Department of Economic Development | Crafting Louisiana's Business Counseling Network
In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Louisiana Department of Economic Development (LED) identified the need to provide services including assistance in applying for small business administration disaster loans, business planning, marketing analysis, financial analysis and general business counseling to small businesses in hurricane-impacted areas in Louisiana.
SSA developed the case management model to respond to these small business needs and worked with LED to design a robust assistance program, identify grant recipients, coordinate the scheduling and assignment of counseling resources to end users, and recruit the member economic development agencies into the Business Counseling Center (BCC) network. Once in place, the BCC network served as an impactful and successful program capable of providing free intensive counseling and education services to small businesses in hurricane-impacted areas.
Through the collaborative effort of the member agencies, the BCCs became a “one-stop-shop” for small business owners in Louisiana. In total, the BCC network provided technical assistance and workshops to more than 5,000 businesses, and procurement and contracting workshops held in nine communities attracted more than 850 attendees. Seven additional “Gulf Opportunity Zone” workshops drew more than 470 participants and nearly 900 businesses received counseling services. The SSA-designed BCC network and its framework exist today within LED, and its function remains in place as an economic tool for statewide hurricane and disaster response initiatives.