I never guessed that someday my first topic for work-related blogging would be about bugs. This is usually left for professional bug collectors and pest exterminators. But, at an Albondigas meeting for politicos recently, I found myself pulling out an amber casing with two bugs inside so my colleagues would get a visual of my number one client – the Asian citrus psyllid.
While not harmful to humans or pets, this bug is a death sentence for citrus trees, if the population can’t be controlled.
Southern Californians love their citrus trees – just peek into millions of backyards and you’ll see orange, lemon and lime trees dotting the landscape. Unfortunately, so does the Asian citrus psyllid and it is trying to stake its claim in neighborhoods across Southern California.
NST is currently working with the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program (CPDPP), a non profit organization funded by citrus growers that is dedicated to protecting the citrus industry from invasive pests and diseases. Currently, public enemy number one for CPDPP is the Asian citrus psyllid.
NST is tasked with an education-based mission to keep elected officials and the general public informed about efforts to treat for the Asian citrus psyllid and to raise awareness about the fatal danger this pest poses to citrus trees.
In a nutshell, we were asked to wedge our foot into a public universe that encompasses five counties, 60 cities, 180 community groups, and a total population of nearly 8.5 million people.
With any size budget, this is a daunting task for a grassroots public education campaign. But, by employing some previous research to hone solid messaging and capitalizing on strategic communication principles, NST is tackling this challenge.
One of the key concepts we analyzed for our outreach strategy was credibility of message. A large body of research indicates that people are more likely to trust and believe a message if comes from a source they deem credible.
Our research also found that while low levels of approval keep buzzing around the United States Congress, local governments are seen as prized pupils in the eyes of the public. A recent Gallup poll reported by Politico details the public’s trust and confidence in local government at a staggering 70 percent – consistent over the last decade.
This is why we decided to parlay the education-based mission requested by the CPDPP, to include a solicitation of support from local governments to help communicate our message. City governments provide a gateway to their constituencies. By utilizing their mediums we have successfully disseminated our message to more than 170,000 mailboxes, inboxes and households in the last three months. Additionally, it gets an important segment of our target audience – elected officials – active in our client’s public education campaign, rather than just watching on the sidelines.
As the longest tenured public relations firm in San Diego, NST has a storied history of providing clients with cutting-edge public relations and media relations strategies. Our most recent chapter incorporates public affairs and government relations into our wide-ranging array of capabilities.
In this case, NST was already providing CPDPP with a robust media outreach campaign, but the client needed assistance to strengthen its presence in communities throughout Southern California. By integrating a messaging platform from the media outreach operation with a public affairs strategy, we are helping our client discover a new approach to meet their goals that maybe they wouldn’t see on their own – a core value at NST.
Meanwhile, I’m learning about the development stages of an invasive pest. I used to think that the only bugs I had to worry about were in the light fixtures and telephones, but I guess I was wrong.