Winner: Ron Sachs Communications Inc.
Campaign: Alia Faraj-Johnson, Alan Crotzer Claims Bill
When Alan Crotzer was released from a Florida prison after 24 years of wrongful incarceration (he had been exonerated thanks to DNA evidence), a claims bill that would provide him restitution for the years lost had been stuck in limbo in the state legislature.
Realizing that the bill would not move forward without strong outreach and public support, Crotzer's attorney, Mike Olenick, forged a partnership with Alia Faraj-Johnson, vice president of the Tallahassee-based Ron Sachs Communications.
Knowledge Is Power
Also in stalemate at the Florida legislature was another bill relevant to the case that offered compensation to anyone wrongfully convicted. Because the then largely Republican-dominated legislature did not historically embrace such bills, Faraj-Johnson knew she was waging an uphill battle.
Adhering to the tried and true tenet that knowledge is power, Faraj-Johnson studied the political layout by attending committee meetings, assessing reaction from the media and targeting key staff directors and lawmakers who could effectively move the bill forward.
Righting A Wrong
Making this case her agency's most important pro-bono client, Faraj-Johnson strategized that the most effective way to generate support for the claims bill specific to Crotzer was to put a human face on a miscarriage of justice. (Because the general compensation bill for the wrongfully convicted was not being well received in the legislature, Faraj- Johnson decided to focus her initial efforts on the Crotzer bill.)
Introducing Crotzer to the Capitol press corps, various legislative committees and lawmakers, Faraj-Johnson gave Crotzer the opportunity to tell his story in his own words, punctuated by heartfelt emotion and personal insights.
This tactic worked, allowing Crotzer's supporters to spotlight his case, while further depoliticizing the measure. By making the very sympathetic Crotzer the story, efforts toward a claims bill victory gained the momentum needed for passage. Noting all the things Crotzer missed out on while incarcerated, Faraj-Johnson creating a touching and moving message.
In The Face Of Overwhelming Odds
Even when the odds were inexorably stacked against her, Faraj-Johnson was unrelentingly persistent on behalf of her client. For instance, with only a few weeks remaining in the 2007 legislative session, the claims bill looked doomed--but Faraj-Johson kept Crotzer in the media spotlight. And the story was so powerful it could not be ignored. Olenick and his legal team embraced the communications strategy and were able to use it to secure support from public officials.
While the House and Senate considered the bill in the 2008 session, Crotzer, further reinforcing and promoting the importance of the story, watched from the gallery. The Florida House passed the bill (which granted Crotzer $1.25 million and a state-paid college education) unanimously and publicly apologized to Crotzer from the floor. The story ran in every major Florida media outlet, with the Senate following suit later that week.
Campaign: 290% Greater Than Expected: A Campaign to Maximize Returns to Enron's Creditors
In August 2007, Enron's Board of directors engaged FD to build a significant communications campaign that would highlight its multi-billion dollar lawsuit against Citigroup. As a result of leveraging both new and traditional media outreach, Citigroup settled with Enron for $1.66 billion.
Company: AMERIGROUP Corporation
Campaign: AMERIGROUP Corporation Illinois Litigation
Slapped with a $334 million judgment in which AMERIGROUP Corporation had been accused of denying healthcare coverage to late-term pregnant women, the company wanted to defend its reputation to the media and public. Casting doubt on the suit's allegations, the company made its case known with top-tier media outlets, such as the Wall Street Journal and Fox Business Channel.
Company: Media & Communications Strategies, LLC
Campaign: Saving American Manufacturing Campaign
In 2007, The Gleason Group, a top hand truck manufacturer, was being forced to go out of business because the Department of Commerce had granted a low tariff to an international competitor. To urge the department to reverse its decision, Gleason enlisted the services of Media & Communications Strategies, which devised a plan that would target both media and lawmakers. As a result, Gleason stayed in business and 600 workers kept their jobs.