Harris Media: Case Studies in Legislative Advocacy
Harris Media is an Austin, Texas-based digital communications and marketing agency that has worked with heads of state, influential advocacy groups and Fortune 500 companies to implement award-winning strategies online.
Harris Media’s proven, award-winning strategies in legislative advocacy encompass a wide range of methods and tactics in order to best fit the situation at hand.
Harris Media has undertaken major campaigns to drive contact with elected officials via the traditional, targeted methods of email and phone calls.
The “Stop the Bad Iran Deal” campaign resulted in 34,600 calls to legislators to stop the Iran Deal, including over 1,000 calls to Senator Chuck Schumer’s office in one day. A similar targeted campaign a few years later resulted in over 152,000 emails sent to members of Congress asking them to fund the border wall.
Given the sophistication of digital advertising targeting, we are able to narrowly target specific areas and even buildings in order to guarantee that our message is delivered to the right people.
In 2018 and 2019, we worked with the Texas Association of Health Plans to deliver targeted patient stories to the Texas Capitol and Health and Human Services Commission Building as well as various other relevant addresses in order to influence the conversation among policymakers about how Texas Medicaid works in the state. This resulted in 4,290,000 impressions across the account with 4.19 ads seen per person, on average. A similar campaign resulted in 22% of our website users coming from Austin, with the average session among Austin users being 1:39.
Engaging the Conversation
In order to engage important participants in the conversation, it can often be an important tactic to encourage the audience to directly engage with them via retweeting tweets with the participant tagged in them etc.
In the Bad Iran Deal campaign, we encouraged our audience to engage with tweets tagging congressional staffers and elected officials. This resulted in 602,000 engagements across our Twitter account, including 53,671 tweet engagements directed at John Kerry alone.
Creating an Echo Chamber
Through the use of search ads, we can help educate people who are already seeking to learn more about a particular issue.
On the Bad Iran Deal campaign, we used search ads to influence the conversation around the Deal online to the point where every person that searched for information on the Deal saw our ad. Additionally,
we led the creation of the first ever Google Search click-to-call allowing constituents to call their Senator directly from the search ad. The result was 2.1 million impressions and 35,000 clicks with over 15,000 calls coming from the ad, 45% of total calls made in the campaign.
If the need arises, we can also activate our audience to take action in the real world, for example by pushing them to attend events like hearings, protests etc. This is perhaps the greatest example of translating a digital audience into a real-world one.
In 2019, we activated our audience to attend local hearings on methane regulation, resulting in almost 750 pledges to attend a hearing. The subsequent crowds at the hearings were so large as a result of our activation that it was written about by state and local media.
Influencing the Conversation
Using our creative in-house graphics and web development teams, we are able to inject our point of view into the online conversation via unique websites and utilizing relevant hashtags on social media.
Our polling showed that when people learned the details of the Iran Deal, they hated it. We built out and launched several different sites to educate on the facts of the Deal and shape public opinion around it online.
On another client, we used the influential hashtag “#txlege” which is seen by 250,000 people a week on average, and has a loyal following of Texas legislators, staffers, journalists etc., to inject ourselves into the online conversation. On an average week, we made up 17% of the tweets on the hashtag, around 3 to 4 per tweets per day.
All Levels of Decision makers
Harris Media’s history of legislative advocacy spans a variety of clients and strategies, from small city council meetings to major, national issues being debated at the federal level.
We’ve undertaken several local-level calls to action on behalf of our oil & gas clients.
In November 2019, we launched a campaign to defeat a resolution under consideration by the San Antonio City Council that would make it more difficult to construct pipelines. The campaign resulted in almost 700 emails sent to City Council members and a final vote on the resolution being delayed pending further study.
In 2019 we drove our audience to contact their county commissioners and city council members to support the construction of the Permian Highway Pipeline, resulting in 668 emails across 4 different counties in support of the pipeline.
Through the use of an email blast and targeted ads, we drove emails to members of the East Baton Rouge School Board urging them to vote in favor of a particular Industrial Tax Exemption program, resulting in over 1,200 emails sent to the board.
During the 2019 Texas legislative session, we drove over 7,000 direct contacts to legislators from their constituents on the issues of freestanding ERs and surprise billing. Thanks in part to the advocacy driven by our campaigns, five bills were passed during the session which helped protect Texas patients from surprise billing.
In Spring 2019, we executed a large scale campaign against a Colorado Senate Bill that imposed a moratorium on new oil and gas development. By making the face of the incumbent Democratic Governor a focal point in the campaign, we were able to drive our audience in sending over 21,000 letters and making over 1,500 calls to legislators about the bill.
A 2018 campaign in the midst of a government shutdown resulted in over 152,000 emails sent to members of Congress asking them to fund the border wall.
The Stop the Bad Iran Deal campaign, in addition to driving almost 35,000 calls to legislators to stop the Iran Deal, also featured a number of innovative tactics, including the first paid-for political Snapchat filter and the first Google click-to-call search ad.
“The genius here is that the filter gives all those fresh-faced young ‘uns a new and engaging way, a reason to become the ad–and to spread it by broadcasting the message to their friends.”Wired, August 6, 2015
“It fits in with Snapchat’s rather nontraditional social media platform, an example of the expanding options available to political advertisers who are often clawing for a way to stand out in the digital sphere.”The New York Times, August 6, 2015
Using geo-targeting, we targeted ads on the benefits of Texas Medicaid to the Texas Health & Human Services Commission Building, resulting in over 50,000 ad impressions both in the building and to people who had recently been to the building.
Stop the Bad Iran Deal
In the summer of 2015, as the U.S. Congress was debating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we worked with Secure America Now to activate their grassroots army of over 3.8 million people in order to fight back against the Obama administration’s misinformation on the bad Iran Deal.
Our team built a campaign of buzzy content, resources of information and a mobile-focused action platform. Secure America Now led the online conservation surrounding the Iran Deal, sending tens of thousands of calls, emails and tweets to members of Congress and their staff.
In pursuing our goals of driving contact to legislators and shifting the conversation online, we achieved a number of industry firsts, such as the 1st paid political Snapchat geofilter, the first Google click-to-call advocacy campaign and the 1st native Twitter video attack ad.
Driving Legislative Contacts
We adopted a targeted, multi-platform approach in order to achieve our goal of driving as many emails as possible to legislators in order to pressure them to stop the Iran Deal.
We focused on a mobile-first, action-first website which immediately prompted users to call in a single click. We augmented our website with several other methods, including email blasts, a petition on the left-leaning Change.org which featured copy catered specifically to a more liberal audience, resulting in over 86,000 signatures and a Google search ad which prompted searchers to call their Senator. This search ad resulted in 2.1 million impressions and 35,000 clicks. We even worked directly with Google to change their ad policy going forward to allow public officials to be dialed from search ads.
Shifting the Online Conversation
Our polling showed that when people learned about the details of the Iran Deal, they hated it. In order to help shift the online conversation in our direction, we launched several brand awareness campaigns to help flood the conversation with the facts and persuade audiences.
We built out a site that served as a central place for facts with a scorecard where voters could tell at a glance where their elected officials stood on the Deal and how to contact them, in addition to promoting the trend #NoIranDealBecause on Twitter, which resulted in 71 million impressions and 25,000 uses of the hashtag. We also broke new ground, with a native Twitter video ad which was described by AdWeek as “what could be the first 15-second political-attack video tweet” and the first paid political Snapchat geofilter which was viewed over 2.5 million times and was covered by major publications like Wired, The New York Times and Fortune.
Texas Medicaid Works
In early 2019, a series of articles were published by The Dallas-Morning News attacking Texas Medicaid Managed Care and dragging our client through the mud.
In response, we sought to educate on the benefits of Texas Medicaid by personalizing the issue and sharing the individual stories of people whose lives are made better thanks to Medicaid. By sharing these Texans stories, we went beyond just abstract numbers and statistics about Medicaid and instead showed how lives are changed everyday thanks to Medicaid.
We decided that it was necessary to get ahead of the story and reach out to policy makers and decision makers directly. Given the sophistication of digital advertising targeting, we were able to narrow our ads down to the 1-mile radius and 0.8-mile radius on Facebook and Google, respectively, to the Capitol, Texas Health and Human Services Commission Building and various other important addresses. This ensured our ads were seen by the right people, and resulted in almost 4.3 million impressions with an average of 4.19 ads seen per person.
We additionally drove the campaign with the #TXLege hashtag, an influential Twitter hashtag with a loyal following of Texas legislators, staffers, pundits and journalists which is seen by 250,000 people a week on average. On an average week during our campaign, we were 17% of the tweets on the hashtag, around 3 to 4 tweets per day.
Personalizing the Issue
A key aspect of our campaign was allowing Texans to tell their story in their own words about how Medicaid managed care has helped them. We produced over 170 pieces of video content in association with Texas Medicaid health plans of Texans telling us their stories, allowing them to explain specifically how Medicaid managed care has improved their life and given them greater comfort. These videos were then distributed online via our website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, with over 660,000 video views in the 2019 legislative session.
Given the wide spread of stories around Texas, we decided to plot them on a map to display the expansiveness of the program. People stayed on the story map page the longest out of any non-story page on the website–over 1 minute and 30 seconds per visit.
Methane Stakeholder Events 2019
In January 2019, Governor of New Mexico Michelle Lujan Grisham introduced new executive orders to limit and further regulate the oil and gas industry in New Mexico, including imposing new fines and royalties on oil and gas companies in the state.
The new executive orders risk badly damaging the crucial New Mexico oil & gas industry, including cutting potentially thousands of jobs in a state with one of the top 5 worst unemployment rates in the nation.
Digital Turnout Campaign
In order to help show that there is a strong base of New Mexicans who support oil & gas, we executed a campaign to turnout our supporters in-person at state agency town halls in the Summer of 2019 to take a stand and let their opinions be heard.
We ran a multi-platform campaign consisting of targeted ads in locations where a state agency town hall was upcoming and urged both our audience and a lookalike audience to pledge to “show up & stand up” at the events. We additionally sent reminder texts to RSVP-ers prior to the event as we found they had a higher open rate than email and allowed us to converse with the participants in a more personal manner. Our campaign resulted in 747 total RSVPs with over 65% of those RSVPs being new supporters who were not previously part of our audience. Lastly, we followed up with our paricipants with targeted follow-up ads to keep the event in people’s minds.
Our campaign was so successful at turning out our supporters that it was noted in local media coverage and some of the meetings were moved to larger venues as a result of the turnout.