Austin Chamber of Commerce

When bridging the gap turns into building a completely new bridge

In March 2021, ECPR received a phone call from the Austin Chamber of Commerce looking for a couple of months of media relations help as they searched for a new internal communications lead. Given ECPR’s close relationship with the Chamber, we were happy to help one of the most valued and respected organizations in the region bridge the gap for a few months.

More than a year later, as we are wrapping up our work for the Chamber, there are several lessons to be learned as a “couple of months” turned into a much longer and more in-depth relationship with the Chamber to help them navigate a momentous year which saw Austin cement its place as a premier destination for job creation while still being impacted by a global pandemic.

What do you do when your client contact leaves mid contract and there is nobody leading internal communications for a client?

This happened to us three months into what was supposed to be at most a four-month month to month agreement. We immediately recognized that this client was going to turn into a longer partnership, and we switched midstream into less a reactive mode into a strategic, long-term mindset.

We reimagined the messaging the Chamber had been using to better suit the organization’s goals. We conducted a social media audit to help them understand the challenges and opportunities they faced on each of their digital platforms. As the Chamber began hiring, a process which we were asked to advise on and participate in, to find people who could jump in and hit the ground running, we media trained new hires and other Chamber employees who could serve as spokespeople on specific topics.

Our goal was to set the Chamber up for success by developing a roadmap for the long-term as we provided exceptional service to them every day and positioned them in a positive light through hundreds of media requests during the length of our work together.

Helping your client transition back to internal teams

As the Chamber hired internal communications team members, we added another focus to our service— getting their internal team ready to steer the ship without us. This may be counterintuitive given that our goal is to foster client relationships that last for years. However, we understand that each client has individual needs.

So, what did we do?

We helped the Chamber hire through vetting resumes, designing a writing test and sitting in interviews to lend our expertise to their process. We media trained new internal team members and spent hours downloading them on what we did, our strategic thinking and turning over to them our wealth of talking points, messaging and other materials.

We have clients that have worked with us for more than a decade and we hope to continue to earn their business for years to come, but when a client has a specific need like the Chamber did, it is our job to fill it, and fill it we did.

Results

ECPR’s work with the Austin Chamber of Commerce was especially crucial considering the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Tesla’s headquarters relocation announcement, and the unprecedented amount of economic growth in the region. We worked hand in hand over the last 15 months with the Chamber to develop messaging highlighting the benefits of doing business within the Austin region, doing so in a year that saw the region’s best year to-date (2021) for job creation. Additionally, the Chamber of Commerce CEO, Laura Huffman, is now considered an expert and trusted voice in Austin and beyond thanks to our strategy and positioning of her knowledge in the field of economic development and major issues impacting the region and our growing city.

ECPR helped the Chamber cultivate relationships with local organizations by drafting marketing materials and media announcements on hiring notices, construction and significant events within the community. We also fostered a reputation in the philanthropic space by developing messaging for altruistic events including Cheers to the Year, which highlighted the incredible achievements of Huston-Tillotson University, Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette.

Over the course of our contract, ECPR served the Chamber of Commerce on several fronts to bolster the growth and opportunity found across the Austin region. Our work resulted in about $15 million of earned media—an average of $1 million per month— for the client while reaching close to half a billion people through earned media and our “home-base” messaging will be the backbone of the Chamber’s mission for years to come.

 

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