The city of Denver recently hosted Startup Week, an annual series of seminars that not only showcases up-and-coming local businesses, but educates attendees on what it takes to be successful. I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to attend a seminar that combines two of my passions: craft beer and marketing.
This particular seminar consisted of a panel representing three Denver-based brewing companies: Spangalang, Bierstadt Lagerhaus and Black Sky Brewery. These breweries embody the Denver craft beer movement, as they are small microbreweries that typically yield about 500 barrels a year. Breweries in this category are responsible for making Colorado the craft beer capital of the United States, and represent an industry that greatly impacts the culture of our society.
Passion Is Essential Ingredient
Although the topics of discussion remained heavily focused on the craft brewing industry, the panel’s insights and perspectives proved to be applicable to many industries. For me, the key takeaway is the importance of passion in your work. Despite entirely different backgrounds, each brewer has a love for their craft. Again and again, they reiterated that when nurturing the growth of a new business, without passion, one will fail. Believing in yourself is the key ingredient in the recipe for small-business success.
I learned what type of marketing tactics each brewery found to be best suited for engaging new consumers. Interestingly enough – all three of the brewers agreed that they don’t invest many dollars, let alone interest, into traditional marketing. It was apparent that there was a stark contrast between the approach of smaller, artisan breweries as opposed to juggernauts such as Anheuser Busch or MillerCoors. While the latter has the capacity to inject a surplus of dollars into flashy, top-of-the-line advertising, the smaller breweries make better use of social media and word-of-mouth recommendations. They touched upon the importance of building communal relationships and representing themselves as local companies with a simple message: We make good beer.
Quality on Tap
To wrap up their thoughts, the panel made a point to establish the importance of quality when providing goods or service to the general public. It is imperative that if one isn’t making use of the highest quality, especially when it comes to effort (a personal export that drives success), one needs to reconsider whether or not to continue on that path. If a person can’t stand behind the quality of his or her work efforts, let alone the product delivered, then why do it at all? The concept came full circle, as passion and quality can repeatedly impact one another extensively.
Though our industries and day-to-day jobs may be entirely different, the path to success is very similar. Love what you do, and you will be successful. Maintain the quality of your efforts, and you will be proud of the result. Stand by your brand, and you will perfect your craft. Cheers!
As an openly gay millennial, I’ve often struggled with fully embracing LGBT advertising messages that reduce a beautifully diverse queer community to two-dimensional stereotypes of fashionable, hard-bodied, blonde models. It’s a confession I’ve never been proud enough to voice until now, at a time of unprecedented strides in LGBT equality, and an equally strong movement within media and marketing to build support, advocacy and community.
In the era of declining print advertising and increasing digital banner blindness, it seems the most impactful way to reach the LGBT community is through 1:1 on site community building.
The shift in successful LGBT marketing is no longer just speaking at the community—but to actually become a part of it.
As a born and raised Texan, growing up gay was hardly something to celebrate. Even with a vibrant nightlife and active community, I always felt I was on the periphery of the mainstream. A member of an auxiliary group that brands tried to engage with using hunky shirtless models, homoerotic undertones and the occasional Pride flag.
As well-intentioned as these efforts were, they felt half-hearted and inauthentic. Growing up with these messages made me feel even more secluded from the rest of the world. Was I fit enough? Did I dress well enough? Was I proud enough? Was I really a member of the community I identified with?
On June 26, 2016, exactly one year after the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, I attended my first Pride Parade in New York City with my partner of four years, for my 27th birthday. It was the most exciting experience of my life because it was the first time I really understood what it meant to be a proud gay man.
I remember looking left to right on the crowded street in New York’s West Village neighborhood and my eyes filling with tears. Booth after tent after sign of countless Fortune 100 corporations, were affirming me. Accepting me. Embracing me. These brands weren’t trying to sell me their products; they were there as advocates and members of my community.
That unforgettable experience shaped how I saw my community and my perception of these brands. As a marketing professional, I took home plenty of notes on what it means to connect and build advocacy with the LGBT community and the values that successful brands shared.
Trends within the millennial generation suggest that the best gay outreach messaging is equality messaging, not “gay-specific” messaging. Forty-seven percent of millennials are more likely to support a brand after seeing an equality-themed ad.
My Pride experience didn’t make me feel like an auxiliary afterthought or an outlier. My partner, friends and advertisers all came together to not only include me, but to celebrate me.
Impactful LGBT messaging is true cultural immersion, and brands across the country have stood up to celebrate my community.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority embraced 1:1 community building while at Los Angeles Pride this year with “Virtually Fabulous.” The on-site activation brought Las Vegas to LA Pride (and attendees to Vegas) with an incredible virtual reality experience featuring interactive videos that users could choose from a number of Vegas attractions, ranging from zip lining through the Rio to bottle service at Marquee.
Another value that ran through the brands whose message moved me during Pride, was unapologetic authenticity. Honey Maid did this beautifully in its “This Is Wholesome” TV spot, where it took all the negative and disapproving messages and literally created a message of love.
The strongest theme that tied all these LGBT advertisers together was a message of togetherness. At NY Pride, I felt like a part of an experience that united all sexual and gender identities. This sentiment is illustrated perfectly by a San Francisco Burger King with “The Proud Whopper” that proclaims “We Are All the Same Inside.”
As a gay millennial, equality, authenticity, inclusion and community are all values that deeply resonate with me. Marketers meaning to connect with the LGBT community will be the most successful by joining our community and joining in our celebration.
Recently, we highlighted Falken Tires president and CEO Richard Smallwood’s top strategies for employee engagement. The conclusion of this two-part series features ideas from Jill Elliott, R&R’s VP of people and culture. Jill’s impressive HR and organizational development background spans across multiple industries, including working with clients such as Disney, Expedia and Unilever. When one meets her for the first time, you instantly get her Bay Area tech vibe, coupled with an apparent passion for employer branding, and designing programs that build culture and employee engagement.
Jill and I sat down recently to discuss her strategies for creating a strong culture and putting people at the center of the organization. “Leaders should strive to cultivate a level of trust,” she remarked. “Having employees’ best interest at heart closely aligns with who we are and how we treat each other and our clients.” At R&R Partners, we use a specific language around the people and relationships who are at the core of what makes us great: “We value family and community above all.”It isn’t a bit ironic that my conversation with our ambassador of people and culture took place the day of the annual Media Tailgate. While we were talking about something Jill is obviously energetic about, teams of people were working together to put the final touches on our 11th annual event, which celebrates our employees and partnerships. One of the most enjoyable afternoons of the year, she was quick to point out that “all of our events are just ways to connect our people to the culture. These are not simply parties—they provide this important opportunity to connect.”
I asked Jill what she would do with an unlimited budget to drive even more employee engagement at R&R. Her response wasn’t what I expected, yet it makes total sense: “I would survey employees to ask them what they want.” Our discussion was interrupted slightly when a unicorn pool float came into Town Center during the Media Tailgate set up, yet after we had a Friday afternoon giggle, Jill impressed me with her final thought: “If you get the people part—the recruiting, the hiring, the development and the culture—right, everything else falls into place.”
It’s one thing to read the proclamation that “TV is dead,” and quite another to see that “dead” industry on display, vibrant and alive at this year’s Emmy Awards, which I happily attended. Leave it to a tech-infested strat geek to look past a pageant of literally the most beautiful people in the world and into the guts of “What the heck is really going on with TV these days?” Based on the Emmy festivities hosted by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, there seems to be more energy behind TV than any other medium, internet included. That energy is flowing on all fronts.
TV Helps Us Question and Better Understand Life?
Creatively, TV gives nothing away to motion pictures in terms of quality of its storytelling, performance and production. Despite the Kardashians, there’s incredible intensity behind social change and diversity. TV at its best breaks through the dogma, helping us question and better understand what we believe, who we love and how we look at the world. Heck, even the title sequences are breakthrough. My father was a TV “pioneer” back in the ’50s, and he’d be floored to see that the altruistic promise of the medium paid off as well as it currently has.
That’s because TV untethered from the tyranny of the three networks takes risks. Big time. As an example, actor Jeffrey Tambor and director Jill Soloway both won Emmys for Transparent, a show about gender roles told through a transgender woman that is produced and distributed by Amazon. Every part of that sentence was impossible to contemplate even five years ago. Amazon sells stuff, right? The shift away from network TV is complete. The three big “network” winners were HBO, Netflix and FX. HBO’s total of 22 awards was nine more than the traditional Big Three combined. More telling was the vibe. It felt less like an “industry event” and more like an edgy conference of creatives.
The New Big Three
So what’s really going on here? Massive creative destruction where undeniable, fast-moving subversive forces are overturning a massive, antiquated status quo. Again, despite the Kardashians, TV is no longer a race to the bottom. It’s aspirational. That’s because companies like Amazon and Netflix don’t need to aggregate millions of viewers for their business models to pay out and therefore don’t need to produce vapid “common denominator” entertainment. They can afford to push the limits and do so at every turn.
A Refined, Boundry-Breaking Medium
Finally, TV untethered is TV redefined. For the past five years or so, clients, agencies and technologists have been wrestling with the shift from TV as a device and a medium, to TV as a loose descriptor for “long-form content.” That transformation is complete. The net of it is that TV is far from dead. It is still a premium reach/branding vehicle (time-shifted, IP-delivered or otherwise). But it’s also become a powerful culture shaper and newly minted hotbed of creative risk-taking and boundary-breaking content. Which actually defines what we should strive for, for our clients: brand-building, culture-shifting, boundary-breaking work.
Recently, Richard Smallwood, president and CEO of our client, Falken Tires, appeared in a Fast Company article highlighting the most creative people. Since then, we asked him, and our own VP of people and culture, Jill Elliott, to talk more about employee engagement. Richard, who is famous for taking top-performing employees anywhere in the world for dinner as a reward, shared his three top tips for engaging employees. The second part in this series will feature some of Jill’s thoughts on engagement, core values and culture.
When asked to share his strategy on engaging his employees, Richard shared these three tips:
“Create regular opportunities for your associates to provide unfiltered feedback to senior management.
One practice I enjoy using to gain insight on how things are working within the company is to take a small group of four or five associates to lunch and ask them for ideas on how to make their jobs more efficient. The reality is that most executives really don’t understand the unnecessary obstacles or distractions that prevent our teams from executing optimally and, more importantly, we generally can’t provide the best solutions. The people doing the jobs know the roadblocks, and they usually have the best and most practical solutions for removing them. From my experience, our teammates have really appreciated playing an active role in the improvement process.“
“Regularly remind your associates of the importance of their specific role in the success of the company.
It always bothers me when I hear one of our associates state that their role is not important to the success of the company. First, it tells me that we as a management team are doing a poor job of communicating to our teams what their roles are and how their performance can impact every other person in the organization. Secondly, it takes away the very important “pride of ownership” from that associate. Every human wants to feel that what they do is valued and appreciated by those around them. This is true with work, home, church and sports teams. How can we, as leaders, expect our associates to make the best contribution possible if they don’t believe that what they do is important?”
“Create a culture where associates want to achieve great results, not just in order to survive, but in order to please those affected.
This is often a tricky concept for me to explain, but it is a very important one for leaders to understand. In many work environments, the associate is driven to achieve the targeted result by avoiding failing and being fired for poor performance. This is performance driven by the fear of failure and the subsequent punishment. What I want to create in our environment is one in which the associate wants to achieve a great result, not in order to avoid being punished, but out of the desire to please those impacted by the result. A simple, likely politically incorrect, analogy would be that of a child proudly presenting their stick figure drawing to their parents and saying “look what I made for you.” This motivation is quite different.”
A funny thing happened to me when recently researching airfares for an upcoming trip. While looking at cross-country flights on Southwest Airlines for a route that I have flown dozens of times over the past two years, I noticed a price I had not seen so low in years. Not marginally lower, but 33 percent lower. Surely it wasn’t a typo. Nor was it simply Southwest Airlines’ attempt at being charitable. So what is the explanation?
After doing some more research, I learned that Frontier Airlines recently announced it would begin servicing the exact route I was researching, beginning in the fall. Obviously, the additional competition caught Southwest Airlines’ attention, which, in turn, caught my attention. As any frequent traveler knows, unless you’re flying short flights to undesirable destinations, Southwest Airlines is no longer the “low-cost” carrier that propelled it to widespread success and adoration. In fact, I often find it among the most expensive options when searching for flights. This, of course, flies in the face of its advertising and endless email bombardment – but I suppose that’s an entirely different gripe.
Point is – despite the grief capitalism gets from folks such as Bernie Sanders – it does sometimes work perfectly. Why do you think we’re no longer paying $700 for microwaves or $599 for Blu-ray Disc players? More consumer options create competition, which puts pressure on an assortment of variables, chief among them, price. The airline industry is no different, although it is a very precocious industry with fewer choices than home electronics or automobiles or just about anything else. After all, the price on entry is tremendous and operations are significantly challenging. Yet, above it all, one thing remains true − more airline/flight options translate into lower costs for consumers.
This is how low-cost carriers such as Frontier, Allegiant and Spirit airlines are disrupting the industry and providing consumers with more choices, lower costs and more empowerment. Additionally, as consumer technology and customization have changed consumer perceptions, expectations and purchase habits, the low cost carriers seem to be ahead of the curve with their business models.
To be clear, the major carriers still vastly dominate schedules and routes due to overall fleet size. While Frontier, Allegiant and Spirit are all growing in size, their fleet sizes still pale in comparison. Each of the low-cost airlines has a fleet around or under 100 planes. Compare that to the size of Southwest Airlines (704) or Delta Airlines (1,426) and it’s easy to see why the little guys are still considered little. Very little. Yet, consumers are clearly catching on. Frontier Airlines’ net income rose tenfold from 2013 to 2014. Allegiant Air quadrupled from 2014 to 2015. And Spirit Airlines saw net income growth of 79 percent from 2013 to 2015.
The most common criticism of low-cost carriers is the “nickel-and-dime” approach they have with fees. It is commonplace for these carriers to assess fees for select seats, baggage and even carry-on bags. For consumers not informed or expecting this, it is seen as excessive and tawdry. However, there are two realities associated with this: the new normal and consumer empowerment.
Airline fees have become the norm.
We were asked to feel sorry for major airline carriers when the cost of oil skyrocketed a few years back, causing them to saddle consumers with baggage fees. Yet, when oil prices tumbled to their lowest level in decades, the airlines forgot to raise their hand and inform us these fees were being taken away. Excluding Southwest Airlines, baggage fees are standard across the industry. And the latest JD Power report confirmed that American consumers have given up fighting them – and have become accepting of airline fees. Even fees for seating choices have become more prevalent. If you think the low-cost carriers are the only airlines charging fees for seat selection, you haven’t flown American Airlines recently. Flying a red-eye from Las Vegas to Miami, I was presented with additional fees for my seating options. Wanting to sleep on the cross-country, red-eye flight, I paid $37 (each way) for a window seat in the middle of the plane. Want extra legroom and to be closer to the aisle? That will cost an additional $58. This is why I am dumbfounded when I hear, read or see these types of nickel-and-dime fees being groused at regarding the low-cost carriers. They exist elsewhere. And they are higher than the $12 lowest fee charged by Frontier Airlines.
Consumer Empowerment With the low-cost carriers, consumers are able to purchase lower fare tickets and then make their own decisions on how much more they want to spend. Here’s an example of how simple this is for me: looking for nonstop service for a trip August 25–28 from Las Vegas to Orlando, a round-trip ticket on Frontier Airlines was $215.10. A similar itinerary on Southwest Airlines was $419.96. That is a difference of $204.86, or 95 percent. Even once I pay for a seat ($12) and choose to check two bags ($70), there is still a difference of $122.86. But what if I don’t need to check two bags? What if I’m visiting a summer home stocked with clothes and don’t need to check a bag at all? Instead of having inflated costs and the illusion of “free bags” stuffed into my Southwest Airlines ticket cost – I get to make my own decisions. And in my opinion, that is the point with these low-cost carriers. Consumers are more in control of their final costs, and it doesn’t take much to avoid excessive fees. On a trip last fall with my two children, we chose a low-cost carrier and approached it with minimal intelligence. We checked one large suitcase, instead of three smaller ones. We selected standard seats. We also packed snacks and iPads into our backpacks for the plane ride, as “personal bags” are free, while carry-on bags result in a fee. The result? Overall ticket costs that were more than 60 percent lower than they would have been any other major carrier.
To be sure, these low-cost carriers have work to do. Customer-service scores rank low on Frontier. Spirit is the worst in the industry for on-time arrivals. And Allegiant has been questioned regarding the age of its fleet. But each of these airlines seems genuinely committed to improving on these marks. In addition, Frontier recently announced 42 new routes and Allegiant has plans to purchase newer Airbus planes. But the larger point is that these airlines are a net positive for an industry that hates competition (see: domestic carrier open skies agreement) and is slow to provide customers with the type of service we expect from other industries (imagine showing up for a salon appointment and being told there is a three-hour delay and switching to a different time will result in a $100 change fee and the difference in cost of the new stylist?!). Consumer empowerment and more choices are a benefit to all of us. After all, that is the hallmark of capitalism.
It’s also why you can purchase a Sony Blu-ray Disc player at Best Buy for $34.99 + tax.
Disclosure: R&R Partners has a current affiliation with Allegiant.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has clearly positioned climate change and the effort to reverse global warming as one of the centerpieces of her campaign. The Democratic Party’s platform agrees with the science recognizing a warming climate and attributing it to human activity. It also calls for putting a price (feel free to call it a tax) on carbon emissions.
Republican nominee Donald Trump, in the words of this New York Times article, “has gone further than any other Republican nominee in opposing climate change policy.” He refers to global warming as “a hoax.” The Republican Party’s platform is right there with him, calling climate change policy “the triumph of extremism over common sense.”
Needless to say, climate change is but one of many issues that voters will consider this November. For many, climate change and the environment in general, while important, will take a back seat to hot button topics including jobs, the economy and national security. Not to mention the seemingly endless list of character flaws brought to our attention each day by the candidates who the polls tell us are the two least-liked, least-trusted candidates in American presidential election history.
But for those who do view the health and future of our planet as an important factor in choosing the next president, the choice seems clear. Conversely, for those who are skeptical of climate change science and also stand firmly against any policies and regulations that may increase the costs of energy, there will be no hesitation.
Okay, fair enough. So where does America stand today? A Gallop poll taken in March tells us that 65% of Americans believe that human activity is playing a part in the warming of the planet. That’s a 10-point increase from just a year ago. Heck, even 38% of Republicans believe it, up 4 points from last year.
But there is another number in the same poll that jumps out even more. Fully 76% of Americans aged 18-29 believe human activity is causing or contributing to global warming. Those are the same Americans we commonly refer to as Millennials. And there are a lot of them. In fact, Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest American generation.
Should the Republicans, who have just published a platform that calls climate change policy “extremism” and have nominated a candidate who claims global warming is a “hoax,” be worried about those numbers?
That depends on a couple of things. First, are Millennials politically active? Will they vote? Second, if they are voting in large numbers, is the environment high on their list of political priorities?
Where can we find the answers to those questions? In the one place where Millennials are talking – social media.
Take a look at these charts measuring activity and interest based on social media use and conversations:
These suggest that Millennials are very interested in politics and, as such, have become politically active.
And these tell us that issues involving the environment and sustainability are of a high priority…
Millennials Grew Up Being Environmentally Conscious, So These Issues Are Very Relevant To Them Because They Understand The Importance Of Protecting Our Climate.
According to the NextGen website, “Much more than previous generations, Millennials grew up with things like recycling, turning off appliances and lights when not in use, and awareness of energy efficiency as the norm. As a result, environmental concerns are ingrained in their identity, and young voters understand the importance of protecting our climate.”[NextGen Climate, 4/29/16]
However there’s this…
Millennials Have Punched Below Their Electoral Weight In Recent Presidential Elections. For A Host Of Reasons, Young Adults Are Less Likely To Vote Than Their Older Counterparts, And Millennials Are No Exception. [PewResearch, 5/16/16]
In 2016, For The First Time, Millennials Will Be As Large A Share Of The Eligible Voting Population As Boomers, Roughly 30 Percent. That Said, Boomers Are Still Expected To Outvote Millennials This Year. [Vox, 4/30/16]
While The Growth In The Number Of Millennials Who Are Eligible To Vote Underscores The Potential Electoral Clout Of Today’s Young Adults, Millennials Remain Far From The Largest Generational Bloc Of Actual Voters. It Is One Thing To Be Eligible To Vote And Another Entirely To Cast A Ballot. [PewResearch, 5/16/16]
So, less than three months from a national election, where does that leave us? I guess time will tell. If history is precedent and Millennials continue to be outvoted by Boomers and Gen Xers, maybe the Republicans won’t get bitten on the environmental issue. Not this year anyway. But even a lot of Republican sages are saying that Millennials’ attitudes will have to be respected and accounted for in future elections.
Republican Pollster Bill Mcinturff : “I Kind Of Hate To Say It, But The Millennial Generation Is Now Important. Their Views Are Becoming The Dominant Public Views. Their Attitudes About Gay Marriage And Social Tolerance Are Radically Different Than The Previous Generations, And They Are Restructuring Our Views.” [NextGen Climate, 4/29/16]
Then again, it’s entirely possible that jobs, the economy, terrorism, foreign policy, e-mail servers, personal tax returns and an unending barrage of personal attacks will overshadow the environment this time as a tipping point for presidential voters. The first debate in September should be a good indicator. If that happens, watch for energy and environment to bubble up instead as issues further down the ballot in states that produce large amounts of fossil fuels (West Virginia, Kentucky, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado) as well as those where renewable energy sources are plentiful (California, Arizona, Nevada).
But whether or not energy, climate change and the environment become flashpoints in this year’s national election, two facts remain. First, energy and the environment is one of the rare issues that affect everyone, independent of wealth, race, age, party affiliation, sexual orientation or religion. Without a healthy planet, none of that other stuff is going to matter. Second, the strength and political influence of the Millennial Generation is going to do nothing but grow in the coming years. And Millennials care about our planet. Deeply.
Any politician, party or political entity that fails to recognize those facts moving forward does so at their own peril. The same goes for any company, group or institution whose existence is affected by the decisions those politicians and parties make (and I can’t think of any that aren’t).
However, those who do speak, and act, responsibly to those concerns will be heard by the most environmentally aware generation America has ever produced.
Although it may at times feel otherwise, 2016 is not without its occasions for national unity and celebration. As the National Park Service turns 100 years old, our national treasures and those leaders dedicated to preserving them deserve our awe and admiration.
One such leader, former Congressman Steven Horsford, currently directs R&R Resources+ and manages the Washington, D.C., office of international marketing communications and government affairs firm, R&R Partners. In 2014, Congressman Horsford and other members of Nevada’s congressional delegation worked in a bipartisan manner to pass legislation that would create the Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument. “The fact that a literal ice age of artifacts exists just miles from the Las Vegas Strip and can be shared with local residents and millions of tourists alike, made it something I had to get behind to push through Congress,” said Horsford. More than 22,000 acres in size, Tule Springs is revered for its numerous paleontological and archeological sites.
While enthusiasm for the preservation of the fossil beds was expected from a broad range of conservationists and scientists, business leaders also applauded the designation, indicating once more that companies understand that sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are not passing trends. Horsford notes, “From the very beginning of the process, business leaders joined with the conservation community and local elected officials to make the case for why Tule Springs should be designated as a national monument.”
CSR and Diversity
Horsford doesn’t just grasp and provide leadership on issues surrounding CSR and sustainability. As the first African-American elected to Congress from the state of Nevada, he also knows a thing or two about diversity. He oversees R&R’s integrated services efforts in diversity media training and corporate communications, workforce and vendor/supplier engagement, and international affairs for R&R’s nine offices throughout the U.S. and Mexico City. “Moreover, the idea that young people from all over the surrounding communities, including those from diverse backgrounds who may not have the same opportunity to experience something like what Tule Springs offers, also was a major selling point,” he said.
Horsford has a commanding presence at the crossroads of diversity, politics, business and sustainability. This intersection represents today’s business reality and is a place from which we should all be striving to lead—after returning from celebrating the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary at Tule Springs, of course.
If you’re unfamiliar with the acronym “GPA,” you’re not alone. While its scope is one of the largest at R&R Partners, with nine different offices in six states and in Washington, D.C., the government and public affairs (GPA) department is probably the least familiar to our fellow employees, let alone the people and communities we serve.
Our most common activity is building relationships and speaking directly with elected officials and key community leaders at every level on behalf of our clients. Unlike many firms, R&R has clients of just about every size, industry and need. Here in Nevada, we routinely work with city council members, mayors, county commissioners, federal and state legislators, and governors on issues big and small. Our clients include well-known names like Microsoft, Herbalife, the Cleveland Clinic and American Medical Response. All have tremendous impact on our communities.
But access to decision makers is an increasingly small part of success in this arena. Modern political “lobbying” and relationship building is a far cry from the smoke-filled rooms of a century ago. Today, our best weapon is education. Term limits, a high-intensity news cycle and a younger generation of politicians means we need to know our issues like energy, the environment and economic development better than anyone. This expertise is put to use persuading decision makers to adopt the best policies possible.
So now that you’re more familiar with what we do, you may be wondering what success looks like in GPA. Here are some examples of recent successes here at R&R:
Competing against nearly every other state, many with highly successful economic development programs, our Nevada GPA team helped broker a deal to locate Faraday Future’s (billion-dollar electric car company) first U.S. factory here in Southern Nevada. This project alone could bring 4,500 new jobs to the area.
Our Denver GPA team helped create an innovative program that will be a model for Colorado School Districts. Colorado State University will locate a new administration building on property owned by the Aurora Public Schools. Instead of a traditional lease, this program will allow CSU to pay the school system in tuition credits, allowing the Aurora superintendent to provide four-year scholarships to potentially 200 public school students. Many of these students will be the first in their families to attend college and otherwise be without the means to afford higher education.
More than 60,000 refugees currently reside in Salt Lake County. This extraordinary demographic transformation provided an opportunity for our Utah GPA team to work with our client, the Partnership for a New American Economy, to engage local leaders and community members to build a more welcoming community that helps maximize the contributions of these new Americans.
In Nevada, our GPA team also authored and fought to pass landmark anti-bullying in schools legislation, helping protect the most vulnerable among us. The amount of money we helped get dedicated toward the general fund for anti-bullying efforts – specifically, in creating the Office of Safe and Respectful Learning within the Nevada Department of Education – helped secure $16 million in funding for schools to contract with social workers to address the problem. Officials say the program will be in 140 schools in the first year and 280 in the second year.
While often the least publicized successes of our agency, the work of our GPA team often has the most direct and widespread impact on many of our lives, and that’s a very visible thing in the communities in which we work, learn and live our lives.
Going into an internship, you never know what to expect. You wonder if you’re going to be fetching donuts and coffee, doing busy work, or if you’ll actually gain valuable knowledge from the whole thing. Coming out of college, I had experienced a variety of internships − all of which left me feeling almost just as unsure of what I wanted to do as before I started them. If any of you can relate, then you know that the feeling of uncertainty is pretty terrifying as a recent grad.
Luckily, I’m happy to say that R&R Partners has put my previous internships to shame, and my supervisor and mentor was ready to put me to work in helping her with both internal and external communications. While I was quite overwhelmed at first with all the new and intimidating tasks, I quickly got in the groove of my new position as an operations intern. At R&R, I particularly enjoyed my time as an intern because it was vastly different from my past internships in a few ways:
I was given responsibility in helping with real projects.
I felt that I was able to contribute to the company.
I was included in meetings and felt more involved.
I came out of the internship able to say that I’ve truly learned a lot.
I felt a sense of “this is where I want to be.”
One of my favorite learning aspects of the program was that interns from all offices had a chance to sit down as a group and learn more about the brand, creative, media and engagement departments. This helped us to really gauge how the different components of the agency work in sync to create a whole. If we were specifically interested in one particular area after learning about it, we were given the chance to shadow someone from that department to see if it’s something we want to pursue. Additionally, our chief strategic officer and principal took time to sit down with us and go over our agency’s most successful campaigns, why they worked and the strategy behind them.
Within only two months at R&R, I not only learned to develop my writing skills, but I also got a taste of the different departments, how they all work together and what the “one agency” concept really means. “One agency” is a mantra heard throughout the agency that emphasizes that, despite having nine offices across the U.S. and Mexico, we work together as one, and our culture comes together to create one big family – and this concept was brought to familiarity as all the interns worked together on our summer projects. As one of the summer interns put it:
“My main goal this summer as an R&R intern was to gain diverse, real-world and hands-on experience. The intern program helped me achieve this goal,” says Dominique Glass, Project Management intern. “From hour-long presentations from various departments to working with other interns to solve a company problem, R&R’s new intern program gave me structure to learn and challenge myself. I have learned how to be a team player, manage my time and learn how a firm operates. Going back to school this semester, I feel that I will succeed beyond measure in all group projects and will think more outside of the box. Thank you, R&R, for giving me the tools and freedom to flourish on through the next step of my career.”
The first project of this summer’s internship program involved working in groups with other R&R interns possessing different skill sets and working in other locations to solve a real business problem for R&R. Then, we presented our plans to agency leadership. The chance to make a name for yourself and receive face time from executives as an intern is rare in most internship programs, so I jumped on the opportunity to do so. We gathered feedback from employees across a variety of departments, and we were able to tailor our solutions according to real data.
The second project of the program was also an assignment for the interns across eight R&R offices in the U.S. to work together to educate the agency on how to market to Millennials. While it was challenging to meet across the geographical difference and throughout time zones, it was a great experience to interact with each and every intern. Working with a lot of different people, I learned about myself, my role and how I function with others.Overall, my intern experience was one for the books. The fact that R&R Partners is an independent agency was crucial in leading me to my current position. It allowed me invaluable face time with our team partners and leadership, and now I’m part of the R&R family. I’m excited to see the next iteration of the intern program implemented with our next round of interns, but mostly I’m excited to watch their presentations this time as an official R&R employee. ;)