In response to increasing
numbers of alternative activities for young people, the
Boy Scouts of America (BSA) were concerned about a drop-off in Cub
Scout and adult volunteer enrollment rates. They asked Forrest W.
Anderson, through communications agency Burson-Marsteller (BM), to help
them develop messages that would attract seven-year old boys, their
parents and the adult volunteers who are central to the success of the
Using existing messages as a
starting point, we designed research to develop messages that would
appeal to all three of these groups. We
conducted focus groups with parents and adult volunteers in four cities
across the United States. We hired a specialist in research
with children to conduct focus groups with seven-year-old boys in two
of these cities. In the groups, we explored attitudes toward
the BSA and then shared a statement BM drafted describing what BSA was
all about. This statement was based on BM interviews with BSA
leadership. We asked respondents to edit the statement to say
what they thought it should and then asked what they had
written. In the discussion that followed, respondents shared
their perceptions of what BSA was and should be. After each
set of groups, we revised the statement to reflect the changes focus
group participants suggested. By the last focus group,
respondents made no substantive changes in the statements.
The team had achieved messages
that stated BSA leadership's vision in the language these target
audiences found persuasive.
The CEO of Weyerhaeuser, the
forestry products company, was concerned that the organization was
sending out to its stakeholders confusing and conflicting messages
about the company’s policies on the environment.
As Director of Research and Account Planning for Golin/Harris, Forrest
W. Anderson led a team of agency-account and research staff in a
project to develop an environmental message platform for the
We interviewed senior and
middle management, tapped into a survey Weyerhaeuser was already doing
with employees and reviewed research Weyerhaeuser had done already with
activist groups and investment analysts.
Target audiences ranged from investment analysts who wanted to hear a
very conservative environmental policy, to environmental activists, who
wanted to hear a very liberal policy. We developed a set of
consistent messages that expressed management's point of view while
appealing to the interests of each target audience. The team
worked up from this set of messages to create an over-arching message
for all target audiences.
Weyerhaeuser was so pleased
with this work that it asked us back to do the corporate positioning
for the company. Some seven years later,
Montye Male, at that time the head of Weyerhaeuser's Corporate
Communications, told us that the work we did still drove all the
The CEO and Board of Trustees
of the NGB of a US Olympic Winter Sport were concerned that the
organization's business model was changing and communications may not
be keeping up.
Working with Linhart Public
Relations, we used a relationship measurement technique as a key part
of the NGB audit. Those we surveyed included
current and potential team athletes, their parents and coaches, donors
and trustees. The data showed relationships were strong
across all but two of six critical relationship factors:
Exchange and Mutual Control.
The ratings on Exchange seemed
appropriate. However, the Mutual Control issue did not.
The NGB needed commitment to training, integrity and itself from
athletes and coaches, and money from donors. The athletes and
coaches wanted financial and logistic support from the NGB.
Donors wanted to see performance, integrity and support for the NGB
from the athletes who reach the podium. But most stakeholder
groups did not believe the client listened or responded to their wants
and needs. The data enabled us to show the client that to
achieve its goals, it needed to listen better and actually respond to
stakeholder concerns, rather than ignore them.
In addition we found that
while the NGB was relying on press coverage to get most of its messages
out, virtually every audience reported they got most of their
information through word of mouth. This was
particularly true of athletes.
The client applauded the
presentation and the CEO noted "After conducting thorough, fact-based
research, Linhart PR developed smart, pragmatic recommendations that
will help shape our organization’s future for many years to come."