Smart Colorado: Can You Spot the Pot?

Smart Colorado Smart Colorado is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting the health, safety, and well-being of Colorado youth as marijuana becomes increasingly available and commercialized. Challenge: Coloradans, who generally supported the legalization of marijuana, did not realize that the lack of regulation endangered the state’s youth. As rulemaking surrounding recreational marijuana progressed, it was critical to spotlight the fact that of over 300 marijuana edible products commercially available, most are virtually indistinguishable from their non-marijuana infused counterparts. This includes edibles that appeal to children, such as chocolate, gummy bears, lemon drops, rainbow belts, soda, and cookies. Solution: Kick off a high-octane awareness campaign to alert Coloradans about the dangers of the lack of labeling on marijuana edibles and demonstrate the lack of visual difference between marijuana edibles and their kid-friendly counterparts. Smart Colorado implemented community outreach, earned media, paid media, and online/social media strategies to reach the community at public and school events, share messages in local and national media coverage, and drive web traffic to Smart Colorado’s educational website and social media accounts. This strategy included designing two Denver billboards that illustrated the similarity between normal candies and their marijuana-infused counterparts. Result: In just two short months, Smart Colorado earned more than $1.2 million in total earned publicity value during October and November, including reprints, and over 570 million potential readers and viewers in reach, thanks in part to appearances on the Today Show and Huffington Post, as well as pieces in The Wall Street Journal, USAToday, New York Times, and 17 additional media mentions. (Calculated by Cision-assigned publicity values, and total circulation and web viewers as...

Women in Banking

Challenge: American Banker sought a way to garner additional broad media attention, to drive additional web site readership, and to differentiate itself from its competitors in the increasingly challenging media industry. At the same time, women represented a disproportionately small number of industry executives. Solution: Our team found ways to provide context to the rankings as the banking industry weathered the recession and began to recover, which drove media coverage and wed hits. American Banker developed additional outlets for these women in the industry to form a supportive community. Result: As the banking industry was attacked, this ranking  became a ray of positive news for the industry. The 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking also become one of the most profitable American Banker endeavors. Finally, American Banker has become a force for developing the next generation of women in banking...

Vote No on 66/Coloradans for Real Education Reform

Challenge: In 2013, well-funded special interest groups organized a campaign to increase Colorado’s income tax on all wage earners, and abandon the state’s long-standing flat tax of 4.63%. Amendment 66 was a ballot initiative that took advantage of Colorado’s low bar to petition issues onto the general election ballot. Multiple labor unions and two out-of-state billionaires funded the pro-Amendment 66 campaign with more than $12 million. With little more than $100,000 to spend, Coloradans for Real Education Reform (CRER) faced a modern day David and Goliath scenario. But unlike David, whose material resources were limited to a simple rock and sling, CRER was able to capitalize on earned media, social media, and a network of grassroots advocates to overcome one of the most asymmetric campaign funding landscapes in the state’s history. Solution: The goal of our media campaign was to defeat Amendment 66. While the goal was simple, the plan was complex. Research indicated that targeting the key demographic groups of working families and women, two groups still struggling through a weak economic recovery, could lead to a successful outcome. These middle class Coloradans simply could not afford to have more of their paychecks siphoned off to a spendthrift state government in the face of rising costs and stagnant wages. While the pro-66 campaign blanketed the airwaves, hung billboards, and covered busses with its messaging, the funding imbalance forced CRER to enact a disciplined approach, focusing on earned media, demographic targeting, and social media. If CRER was to succeed against a $12 million investment from its opponents, it was going to have to develop a strategic plan that pulled...