Nonprofit PR Awards: Public Affairs/Issues Management

Winner: SKDKnickerbocker for the Respect for Marriage Coalition - The Opportunity for Historic Change: Building National Support for Marriage Equality

Public Affairs  Issues Management_SKDKnickerbockerIn December 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would hear arguments in United States v. Windsor, a case challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and Perry v. Hollingsworth, a challenge to “Proposition 8,” California’s ban on marriage for gay couples. The nation’s largest LGBT advocacy organizations recognized that they needed a coordinated national media campaign to complement their efforts.

To do this, they formed the Respect for Marriage Coalition, a partnership of more than 80 civil rights, faith, health, labor, business, legal, LGBT, student, and women’s organizations working together to end DOMA and increase nationwide support for the freedom to marry. They approached SKDKnickerbocker, which developed a strategic plan that included informing the debate through D.C. elites and creating a positive climate of media coverage around marriage equality. Then, between arguments and decision day, the firm showcased loving, committed couples and their families who hoped that the Court would “do the right thing” in earned and paid media placements.

SKDKnickerbocker launched a full-scale campaign effort, complete with a war room and full-time staff, that worked pitch interviews and stories, plan events, and develop messaging and strategy for every element of the oral argument and decision day plans. The campaign included earned media events, op-eds, story placements, social media, and paid ads.

The efforts paid off. A June 2013 Pew Research Center found the media had overwhelmingly presented a supportive view of marriage equality. Over the course of the campaign, SKDKnickerbocker team placed 30 op-eds from families and influential allies, including Republicans, faith leaders, and military officials; secured over 120 print, television, and radio stories highlighting the bipartisan support for marriage equality, including the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox News among many others.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Global Strategy Group - Connecticut Community Providers Association: Save Our Safety Net Campaign
  • Proof Integrated Communications - Moving America Out of the Red: Fix the Debt's Campaign to Build a Groundswell of Support for Reducing the National Debt