By Debra Zimmerman Murphey
Infrastructure is currently the priority on the national policy agenda, and an initiative we are working on helped make that happen. To elevate the dialogue in and beyond the beltway, Tobin Communications, Inc. (TCI) crafts credible original content to transcend today’s hyperbolic echo chambers.
Driving awareness and heightening buy-in are among our objectives for our client, the Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) Coalition. We are sharing this ATM video that is still resonating within and outside the centrifuge of D.C.
America’s infrastructure needs modernization. Roads, bridges and public transit are built, expanded and maintained due to local, state and private-sector dollars, but also through crucial federal gas tax revenue that goes into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). That gas tax, however, has not been raised since 1993 and the HTF is fiscally challenged. As some people know, federal lawmakers are focused on surface transportation reauthorization, but also reimagining what American infrastructure is, to help spur job and economic growth and get a long-term package done.
As an innovative hook for the video, we contrasted a turtle and cheetah. YouTube and Facebook enabled us to geo-target, and the overall effort netted nearly 150,000 views in a short time. All of this helps keep our client and the issue of infrastructure out front.
Passion in Public Relations: Our Shot in the Arm
Socially and culturally, issues surrounding dichotomous thinking are emerging — but they are also spilling over into how communications is shaped. Community relations and corporate responsibility will shift as key publics make decisions about the businesses and groups they support.
This means that strategic communications will require honing campaigns, but also flexibility. In the infrastructure talks, for example, decision-makers are trying to determine whether an old bridge in Memphis is the same as elder care.
There are a lot of nuances in the infrastructure debate, but we love the work we are doing for this national client. Our efforts have spurred leaders to focus on the state of the nation’s mobility, commerce and interconnected transportation system.
Maury and I are continually working on strategic communications (podcasts, web design, videos, grassroots stories, social media/graphics and Radio Media Tours) for the Coalition, which is advocating bipartisan infrastructure investment legislation from Congress and the Biden Administration. Unique content generates identity, knowledge and strong measurement, while also elevating members’ voices.
In Strategic Comms, Trust Never Goes Out of Style
Everyone is aware of the power of memes and Twitter, but rich content builds branding and relationships. Unique content correlates with customer queries and maximizes Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in the business and consumer worlds.
Of course, the public and business, labor and non-profit sectors must think transactionally now. However, people are being conditioned to chase one thing, one tweet, and one moment. Some would argue that “depth” is passé. And as technology moves at warp speed, and Millennials and Generation Z demand instant attention, it seems that way.
But building trust — which can span short posts to longer-form media — is still the meat of strategic communications and lobbying. Getting your spokesperson in The Wall Street Journal requires skills, such as perseverance, that are similar to getting a source to tell you things or reaching lawmakers.
Really, everything in PR is the sum of its parts. As happens with good and authentic communications, one experience builds on the other. But superficiality won’t address the dilution of credibility that subpar social media and news sites trigger, and the impact of leapfrogging technology. (This is evident with nations that use technology and intelligence to bypass the incremental steps of broad empowerment on which most developed nations rely.)
Americans live and work amid a din of chatter that sometimes seems like psychological warfare. College students, in an USC Annenberg Media report, said Instagram negatively impacted their self image and mental health, yet look at its influence.
Tobin Communications hustles hard. Our goal isn’t just about chasing the latest trend. Our work is about ethics, interviewing, fine-tuning, content creation for varying platforms, organic and grassroots storytelling, and working with people who need, understand and appreciate what professional communicators do.
PR is both an art and a science (think metrics). And this is even more profoundly obvious today. COVID, social media, 24/7 news and politics prove why there is no replacement for robust, adaptive and trustworthy communications.
As marketing, media relations, digital content, community outreach and advocacy change, or news increasingly is unchecked and biased, accurate, meaningful and unique communications will be unendingly important.
Debra Zimmerman Murphey has worked as a journalist or in publishing, PR consultancy, writing and content creation for nearly 37 years. She has a master’s degree in public affairs and journalism from American University. Her career highlights include working for a custom-publishing powerhouse, and being senior editor of PR NEWS and helping launch its awards and conference efforts. She also headed a river conservancy and worked pro bono on critical environmental-stewardship and animal-welfare campaigns. She is a published poet and has received multiple writing awards.