“Jackson Communications controlled no, we dominated a public issue until our client prevailed.”
We have executed several assignments for the City of Atlanta over the years but there are two that are our most high profile. In 2012 a councilman noticed several Family Dollar stores were opening in succession in close proximity to each other in his district. He revealed the most recent one was launched with little prior council notification and unlike others in commercial areas, was planned for location in the heart of a historical neighborhood more than tripling the existing traffic flow. He also discovered crime and blight seem to follow stores already in operation in his district. After a major community hearing where residents expressed a desire to halt the spread of the stores failed to gain the appropriate response from Family Dollar representatives, the councilmemebr contacted Jackson Communications to assist with management of this volatile and high profile issue.
Jackson Communications accompanied the client to a meeting in North Carolina along with community leaders and residents. We counseled the team on strategic tactics to prepare for the meeting. Prior to leaving Atlanta at 6am, the client, with no prior warning, engaged us to be a media spokesperson to answer questions for a TV reporter representing the largest station in the city. With little prior briefing from the client, the reporter asked us to respond first with cameras rolling. Despite the early hour and lack of full briefing, we were able to conduct a successful interview and set the tone for the client to respond when our portion of the interview concluded. When we arrived in North Carolina, senior management refused to meet with the councilman relegating duties to lower level managers. While the meeting was informational in some regard, it did not produce the intended results. Our first step after the failed meeting was to establish key messaging as part of our action plan. We had to address two groups, the media covering the issue and constituents of the district. We immediately changed reference to the expansion labeling it “an invasion”. Several media outlets reported the “invasion” messaging as part of their coverage. We studied the opposition’s position, counteracting with appropriate responses for our client. We prepped and trained the client to reinforce key messaging. As a spokesperson, we appeared in at least 65% of all media coverage on behalf of our client successfully relating key messages responding to very tough scrutiny on the issue.
Media outlets reported our key messaging over the opposition’ s position in coverage focusing on the point that we were not anti-business conveying that residents felt their communities had been aggressively targeted for low end stores. Coverage also reflected residents fear of losing the historic value of their neighborhood and desire to preserve its richness. For constituents, we utilized information from previous meetings and data acquired through research of other groups opposing the chain in other areas of the country to create a visual presentation titled “How They See Us/What We Are”. It resulted in an overwhelming number of residents being actively engaged including posting yard signs throughout the community. The issue and coverage reached the Mayor’s office and the US Congressional representative who both reside in the district. The opposition stated in media interviews that construction of the latest store would continue and would likely be completed by December 2012. All construction on the store was halted. The land is now “Doctor’s Park” park dedicated to the founding physicians from the community.