The National Waste & Recycling Association is the Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing private sector waste haulers, landfill operators, recyclers, waste-to-energy plants and truck and equipment manufacturers.
Waste & Recycling has a membership that spans the U.S., each with its own set of local issues and regulations governing solid waste management. The association also represents a cross-section of companies ranging in size and scope –from small, family-owned businesses to larger regional companies to major multinational firms. Waste & Recycling knew its members had a positive story to tell to local and regional media about the industry’s environmental innovations and achievements, but it struggled to find a communications program that would be of use to such a broad membership with diverse in-house communications resources.
Kellen worked with the association to craft and deploy a Grassroots Communications Toolkit to provide members with approved core messages and practical tools so that even the smallest company could carry out effective local media relations, public affairs and community relations programs. The objective of the program was to build a reserve of community goodwill that could be tapped when critical business issues were on the table.
The toolkit was made available in hard copy and online and launched via a marketing campaign that included special events at the association’s annual trade show. It included detailed guides, “how to’s” and checklists on a variety of tactical elements—getting employees on message; pitching to media; conducting local public affairs campaigns; and working with community partners. Appendices included template press releases, letters to the editor and op-eds; government proclamations; ideas and tools for reaching out to local schools and community leaders; and a speakers’ kit containing a stump speech and PowerPoint presentation.
To reinforce members’ use of the toolkit, Kellen developed and facilitated a series of interactive training webinars on each of the toolkit’s tactical elements. The recorded webinars were also archived on the association’s website’s Members section. Kellen also assisted the association with developing appropriate incentives and rewards for members who successfully used the toolkit to carry out the campaign in their communities.
Finally, to provide leadership and direction to members, Kellen worked with senior association executives to implement the campaign’s tactical elements on a national scale. An op-ed penned by the association’s CEO for Earth Day was picked up by McClatchy and carried in more than 20 daily newspapers, including the Sacramento Bee and the Charlotte Observer, for a total readership of more than 10 million. Radio and television outreach campaigns resulted in interviews with the CEO in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and other major cities. The industry’s messages were highlighted in a number of other outlets, including the New York Times and Scientific American. Kellen also executed desk side briefings with key environmental reporters from the Washington Post, Bloomberg Business Week and New York Times. To supplement the earned media campaign, stock news stories based on the industry’s key messages resulted in hundreds of placements in weekly and community newspapers across the country.