FTS wins Gold and Silver Pollie Awards for 2019 Public Affairs Campaigns

04 . 04 . 20

The Pollie Awards are the most prized and sought-after awards in the political communications and public affairs industries. The bipartisan honors are awarded to political advertisers and communicators who have demonstrated superior work on behalf of their candidates and causes. A blind jury of their peers selects AAPC award winners. This year, we were thrilled to to walk away with both gold and silver Pollies!

GOLD: Digital/Internet – Public Affairs/Issue Advocacy Division
Best Use of Social Media
Greenlink Connects Me

Public transportation remains a great challenge in America’s South. Our firm was hired to create and execute a campaign to increase county council funding for Greenville County’s (South Carolina) bus system.

The Greenville Chamber of Commerce convened a coalition of potential partners including humanitarian non-profits, community leaders, and for-profit companies, and brainstormed with them. Our team created a word cloud of frequently mentioned terms, and the word “connect” kept surfacing. “Greenville Connects” was the logical choice for a campaign about connecting people with family/opportunity/healthcare, etc.

We leaned into this message across social media, stood up a website/advocacy page backed by thousands in social media ads across the county, and produced social media videos featuring transit riders (including low income and special needs residents). Using our landing page and Phone2Action, each member of county council received hundreds of messages from citizens across the county, demanding an expansion of bus funding and routes.

The campaign was conceived from day one as a social media campaign. Every component was designed with social media in mind. Our firm facilitated buy-in and ideas from across a broad coalition, executed a branding concept, ran the three month social media campaign, and won. We delivered over 400,000 impressions and cultivated 500+ activists who contacted members of county council.

Maybe more importantly, we raised awareness for those who rely on public transpiration, like those with disabilities and low income, and in the process, believed we sparked more compassion for people across Greenville County. Such individuals were featured on multiple videos during the campaign. Please see the Facebook page for examples.

Thanks to these advocacy efforts, funding for Greenlink will jump from just under $500,000 a year to $2.5 million, enabling buses which currently stop running at 7:30 pm to keep moving until 11:30 pm. Those extra hours will allow riders to get to third-shift jobs or home from second-shift jobs.

Amazingly, this campaign success happened in an area that is traditionally hostile to public transportation. It has brought great hope to those who want more transportation options in South Carolina’s Upstate.

SILVER: Newspaper
Full Page
Solar Capital of South Carolina

The solar industry is booming in South Carolina, and by early 2018, growth had necessitated further legislative protections for solar companies against the regulated, monopoly utilities. Sadly, the bill to expand solar was killed on a technicality in 2018, but was revived in 2019.

H. 3659, to expand the solar industry in South Carolina, sailed through the South Carolina House unanimously in early 2019. However, some Senators held up the bill until the very last week of this year’s legislative session.

Our firm was hired by the solar industry to coordinate the outside effort (ie. non-lobbying) to raise support for solar – by running advertisements across the state, garnering earned media, and basically using any tactics possible to get the bill across the finish lineā€¦but to borrow a football analogy, we were stuck on the 5 yard line with little time remaining.

We needed one more push to get the ball across the finish line, and used a full page ad in the Darlington News and Press to get the job done.

Our firm thought outside the box of typical campaign tactics and went “back to basics” in creating a call to action. We effectively used grassroots pressure to win on an important issue, while spending very little money to get results for our client.