Moving Public Opinion

The Challenge

To change basic public awareness and attitudes toward a natural resources extraction and manufacturing industry faced with consistent losses on specific federal, state and local environmental issues.

Strategy

Faced with a limited budget, the strategic decision was made to work each year, with great intensity, a limited number of politically targeted markets over a 90-day campaign period, using vigorously tested “proof of performance” messages, asking the targets to demonstrate their support. A new group of cities was intensely targeted each year, while the previous year’s cities were targeted with a substantial maintenance program.

Tactics

  • Creation of focused local market television/radio/print advertising campaign.
  • Development and promotion of national experts and local spokespersons in existing and created events.
  • Promotion of news and feature coverage, editorial board visits, Op-Eds, and radio and television talk shows.
  • Participatory activities, especially school, parent-child and outdoor, all with public officials, involving and demonstrating support from local organizations.
  • Targeted grassroots/mail/telephone campaign to demonstrate support to elected officials.
  • Precise pre, post, and post-post polling to measure results and sustainability.
  • Coordination with, and expansion of, local industry activities.

Results

  • In Albany, New York, opinion leaders who said the industry does a good job replenishing resources rose 22 points, to 91%.
  • In Sacramento, California, opinion leaders who said the industry “is committed to taking action to help preserve and protect the quality of the environment” rose 16 points, to 81%.
  • In Tallahassee, Florida, opinion leaders who said the industry “was environmentally responsible” rose 30 points, to 79%.
  • In Grand Rapids, Michigan, opinion leaders who recognized the industry achieved its voluntary goal of recovering 40% of all resources rose 40 points, to 69%.
  • Among opinion leaders in California, the industry’s job performance rating improved an average of 26 points.