NonProfit PR Awards: Advocacy Campaign & Lobbying: <$50,000 Budget

Campaign: Stop Cold Storage Campaign 2009

Winner: Deveney Communication & FMIA

In February and March 2009, Deveney Communication teamed up with the Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association (FMIA) to oppose the Port of New Orleans’ plan for a cold storage facility at the Governor Nicholls/Esplanade wharf. The reason: They had uncovered evidence suggesting that such a facility would diminish the quality of life for businesses and residents, and would endanger the surrounding neighborhoods. What’s more, the facility’s contents—including 40,000+ pounds of ammonia—could cause severe health issues, should a leak occur.

When the team set out to establish its opposition, it encountered significant challenges: Many local leaders and residents had already signed on in support of the new facility, and aggressive media relations efforts would be needed to enhance community outreach. With a limited budget adding even more strain, the executives shaped a strategy that would:

• Increase awareness of the threats and damages a cold storage facility would pose;

• Engage local community members and organizations to create grassroots opposition.

Specific tactics within the advocacy effort included a Web site dedicated to the opposition, which served as a hub for all info, links, media coverage and discussions surrounding the issue; petitions, direct e-mail campaigns and meetings timed to coincide with events like Jazz Fest rounded out the effort.

Thanks to the proactive outreach, the online petition received more than 800 signatures, and media impressions exceeded 8 million—a 420% increase over the initial goal. Most important, the city of New Orleans Cold Storage opted against building a facility in that location; they are currently in search of an alternative.

Honorable Mentions:

American Heart Association: FIT Kids Act Press Conference—The AHA teamed up with congressional sponsors, as well as NFL and NASPE reps, to call for the passage of the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act. Media advocacy culminated in a press conference on March 19, 2009, on Capitol Hill. The result: 111 lawmakers signed on in support of the amendment.

Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis: CPF National Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Week—The CPF commemorated the 7th annual National Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness week by holding two lobby days on Capitol Hill and, in turn, gaining congressional support of the PF Research Enhancement Act. The effort added 12 members of Congress who supported the bill.

Farm Aid & Vanguard Communications: Farm Aid advocates for Family Farm Financial Protections—In February 2009, Farm Aid—with the help of Vanguard—advocated for Congress to extend stimulus measures to include farm families, ultimately prompting the inclusion of a farm loan restructuring plan.

U.S. Postal Service/Corporate Communications: HR 22/Prefunding Retiree Health Benefits—The USPS increased awareness of the requirement to prefund health benefits for future retirees, by developing a communications plan that complemented government relations efforts. The result: Congress amended legislation, thus reducing the amount the USPS had to pay to prefund health benefits by $4 billion.