O’Neill and Associates Expects the Positive Momentum in Boston to Continue with Mayor Walsh’s Second Term



Mayor Martin J. Walsh was sworn in to serve a second term.*


As Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh begins his second four year term, O’Neill and Associates expects the positive momentum in Boston to continue. We find ways to help the administration’s vision for the City while we work to advance our clients’ goals. January 1st was a historic day of pomp and circumstance as former Vice President Joe Biden was on hand as Mayor Walsh took the oath of office at the historic Cutler Majestic Theater on Tremont St.

Mayor Walsh impressed many insiders throughout the 2017 campaign. He chose not to simply rest on his laurels during the campaign, and showed a tenacious campaign spirit and an organized team in every ward and precinct throughout the City. The results spoke for themselves; Mayor Walsh garnered 66 percent of the vote in his reelection, and he sent a strong message that he is committed to his vision and leading this City into the 2020s.

Boston is a city on the move. Mayor Walsh helped bring General Electric’s world headquarters to the Fort Point Channel. This global corporate giant is already making an impact on the City through its charitable giving. It also has become a fan of the home team by flashing its logo on the jerseys of the Boston Celtics in a partnership in which it will provide the historic team with 21st century data analysis, and partner with the team to support community initiatives.

The development boom has continued and once completed, will be the biggest in the City’s history as Mayor Walsh aims to stabilize housing prices in a City that has continued to see its population rise. The Mayor also has also been praised for his accessibly, his modernization of City Hall and how it tracks progress and civic engagement, and the creation of over 70,000 new jobs.

The Mayor says that his second term will prioritize the implementation of ideas established in his first four years in office. Among the second term goals that Walsh laid out in his inauguration speech were stabilizing the City’s middle-class by improving school curriculums and school buildings, as well as creating more homeownership opportunities and assistance. He also announced an effort to help the most marginalized citizens by housing more homeless people and rebuilding the Long Island Bridge to support and assist those affected by the opioid crisis.

O’Neill and Associates respects the productive relationships we have with the Walsh Administration. The reach and results of our client engagements extend to Boston City Hall and municipal government because of our deep knowledge of the city and our skill sets with municipal relations. Whether it’s cutting through departmental requirements and procedures, earning key approvals at Boards like the Zoning Board of Appeals or Boston Licensing Board or traversing through the arduous processes of the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA), O’Neill and Associates is prepared to help make Boston even better. We congratulate Mayor Walsh and look forward to more progress in 2018.

*Image from www.boston.gov

Teamsters Local 633 Right to Work Campaign

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This past January, O’Neill and Associates was approached by Teamsters Local 633, a New Hampshire-based labor union of employees in the transportation and delivery industry.  The Teamsters were concerned by the pending passage of “Right to Work” legislation in the New Hampshire State House. The proposed bill was expected to significantly weaken the strength of labor unions in NH. With only a few weeks until a final vote, O’Neill and Associates was able to launch a high-impact, month-long campaign to mobilize the Teamsters’ 4,700 members against Right to Work. O’Neill and Associates, in collaboration with the Teamsters, focused engagement efforts on three areas: traditional media, social/digital media, and member-to-member communication.

O’Neill and Associates helped generate news stories and editorials urging the House of Representatives to vote Right to Work down by targeting outreach to reporters, editors and freelance journalists on the hazards of the bill.

In addition to targeting traditional media outlets, O’Neill and Associates helped Teamsters Local 633 leverage their Facebook account to create and maintain online activism – motivating supporters and providing them with easy-to-understand action items. The Teamsters’ Facebook page was used to post low-dollar paid promotions as well as organic content, and served to amplify the key messages of the campaign and convert awareness into targeted action.

Finally, O’Neill and Associates was able to engage the union’s own members through an internal email campaign.  This campaign provided members with news updates, calls to action and contact information for key legislators.

The energy and enthusiasm throughout this one month campaign against Right to Work paid off.  On the day of the vote, a significant minority of New Hampshire House Republicans joined almost all House Democrats to block passage of the bill, in spite of a last-minute lobbying push by the Governor and Speaker of the House. The final outcome in New Hampshire was an outlier to the national trend of Republicans efforts to successfully implement Right to Work in many states, This campaign can now be a model for other labor unions around the country on how to defeat Right to Work in their communities.

Gaining Votes and Gaining Voice: Tips from the Campaign Trail for PR Professionals

By Mike Sherry

Michael Sherry CroppedElection season is in full swing and in local, state, and national races across the country, political races are experimenting with the best ways to promote causes and candidates. As a result, the best public relations strategies are borrowing heavily from the inventive, creative, and think-on-your-feet nature of political campaigns. Like campaign consultants, PR professionals are constantly working to get their client’s message across and accomplish their goals. That’s why campaign tools will always have a role to play in public relations. Here are three ways a sound PR initiative can mimic a political campaign:

Know Your Audience: Campaign professionals are skilled at dividing people into specific audience segments, which enables them to use different tools and messages where they’re most effective. For example, a City Council campaign might target only those voters who have a record of voting in local elections, thereby avoiding the expense of mailing information to households unlikely to turn out on Election Day. Effective PR should do the same thing. Any PR plan that applies a “one size fits all” approach to broadcasting its message is limiting its effectiveness.

Make Use of Events: If a PR consultant and their computer were to vanish, would the message still be heard? If the answer to that question is no, it is time to consider borrowing from the event-focused tradition of electoral politics. Rallies, meet-and-greets, and attention grabbing events are routinely used to drive home a point or capture the attention of a reporter or news crew along the campaign trail.

Instead of simply issuing a press release, consider holding a press conference and taking questions. Use props and visual aids rather than just delivering information in a speech. Political campaigns have a rich tradition of these kind of atmospherics; inventive, colorful imagery can turn a short blurb buried on page 14 into a front-page story and will be noticed and remembered by a far greater number of readers to boot.

Draw Contrasts: Have you ever noticed that political campaigns frequently “go negative” (that is, attack one another), despite the fact that voters say they prefer positive campaigns? There’s a reason for that. Though voters may claim to turn up their noses at negative campaigning, they respond to it, and in some cases it may shape their vote more strongly than any positive messaging. There’s a lesson in there for PR mavens as well. It’s not to be gratuitously nasty or insulting, but there may be a role in a PR campaign for fact-based, fair-minded contrasts between one’s own message and the opposition’s. Good political campaigns are about differences and contrasts. This can be valuable for other types of PR campaigns as well.

If the objective of your PR campaign is to promote your own business or cause at the expense of another, sit down with your PR team to determine if it makes sense to draw a contrast between your messaging and theirs. You should be looking for objective, fact-based instances where your side of the argument is superior to theirs, then figure out how to communicate those cases to readers and viewers in a direct but respectful way. Members of the public aren’t shrinking violets- if your case is persuasive and backed up by neutral fact-checkers, they won’t be turned off by your willingness to go after the opposition. After all, they’ve seen far worse in politics!

Mike Sherry is a director at O’Neill and Associates, specializing in community relations and communications. Email him at msherry@oneillandassoc.com or connect with him on Twitter

CEO’s Corner: Super Tuesday

220px-Thomas_P_O'Neill_IIISuper Tuesday’s matchups marked an important milestone for the 2016 Presidential Election. As many polls and pundits predicted, the two winners of the night were Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Both Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Bernie Sanders, however, were able to pick up a few critical wins to remain viable alternatives to the frontrunners.

Notably, Super Tuesday illustrated just how deeply Trump and his rhetoric have captured the Republican primary electorate. He won seven of the 11 states that voted. He also won over a diverse voter base – from white, working-class moderate voters in New England to evangelical voters in the Deep South. More than 8.5 million Republicans cast ballots on Super Tuesday, shattering turnout numbers from 2012 and reflecting the record numbers set during the 2008 Democratic primary. Comparatively, Democrat voters, while passionate, fell short of the GOP turnout with approximately 5.9 million voters casting their ballot.

Separate and apart from the conversation about the likelihood of Trump’s nomination, we really ought to keep our ears to the ground about the elements of Trump’s message that resonate with so many Americans. After all, 50 percent of Republican primary voters have taken to the polls to give him their support. Still there is a deep concern brewing over Trump’s prospects in the fall. Notable figures within the GOP establishment – including former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate from the past two elections – have publicly questioned Trump’s suitability for the presidency.

On the other end of the spectrum, we also cannot dismiss the central message of Senator Sanders’ campaign and his calls for a “political revolution.” Despite Secretary Clinton’s growing momentum, Senator Sanders may represent the American mindset more closely than the Democratic primary contest results have indicated.

The 2016 Presidential Election has been characterized by anti-establishment candidates on both sides of the aisle. Regardless of whom we elect as our next president, the Democratic and Republican parties owe it to their voters to take time to listen to and reflect on Americans’ calls for change and their dissatisfaction with the current political landscape as we look beyond 2016 and to our future as one united nation.

To continue the conversation, connect with Thomas P. O’Neill III on Twitter or by phone at (617) 646-1000.


Victory is in the Eye of the Beholder: 2016 Iowa Caucuses

Every vote counted in Monday’s Iowa Caucuses, where there was a historic turnout for both parties. By the end of Monday evening, Iowa’s Republican Party counted over 180,000 voters, almost 60,000 more participants than 2012’s record of about 121,500 voters; similarly, the Democratic Party tallied just over 171,000 voters, as one of its “best turnouts ever.” CBS News entrance polls noted that a slightly larger fraction of first time caucus-goers made up the voting body compared to previous caucuses.

Following a virtual tie and roughly a dozen coin tosses, former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was declared the winner over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. With less than a percentage point between the two Democratic frontrunners, Senator Sanders is viewing Iowa as a “giant step” in his campaign, considering many pundits initially dismissed his chances of viably challenging Secretary Clinton in the Hawkeye State. Secretary Clinton will need to gain ground on Senator Sanders going into New Hampshire next week, where recent polls indicate that she is 20 points behind the Vermont Senator.

On the Republican side, Texas Senator Ted Cruz edged out Donald Trump with 28% of state delegates to Trump’s 24%. Senator Marco Rubio came in a strong third place with 23% of delegates – nearly eclipsing Trump. What happens next with the crowded GOP field of candidates? Many polls suggest that Trump still retains a significant lead over Senator Cruz in New Hampshire, but all of the remaining GOP candidates have already turned their sights to the Granite State as they seek to gain momentum in the nation’s first primary.  The New Hampshire primary is expected to further winnow the field as GOP hopefuls Governors Kasich, Christie and Bush need to score significant support to climb out of the single digits and remain contenders.

Five Things I Learned in Iowa

By Nicole Giambusso

Nicole Giambusso, O'Neill and AssociatesIowa Caucus season always brings me back to my days as a field organizer there during the 2008 presidential campaign (full disclosure, I’m a Hillary Clinton supporter). Recently, I’ve realized that the caucuses are an enigma for many people who haven’t experienced them. Here are some takeaways from my time in Iowa for those seeking a little clarity on this iconic political milestone:

The Democratic Caucuses require candidates to be “viable.”

In Iowa, the Democratic and Republican caucus rules differ. During a caucus, Democratic presidential candidates must be deemed “viable” – that is, 15 percent of total voters in the room have to be supporting them in order for those votes to count at all.  When a candidate is deemed non-viable, their supporters are then asked to support alternate candidates. As one could imagine, supporters of low-polling candidates are highly sought after by campaigns vying to be their second choice. The Republicans don’t have this viability requirement. (If they did, I’m sure this year’s crowded field would make for a long and interesting reshuffling process).

There are no secret ballots in Democratic caucuses.

While Republican caucuses use secret ballots, the Democratic caucuses ask voters to stand in a given section of the room to vote publicly for their candidate of choice.

There are no absentee ballots.

Caucusing has to take place in person. I spoke with several potential voters unable to caucus due to factors such as work, lack of child care, or health issues. Barriers remain today, although both parties are making it possible this year for members of the military serving abroad to take part, and the Democrats are taking additional steps toward greater accessibility.

Many Iowans love the process.

A number of Iowans love engaging with campaign staffers who flock to their communities each election cycle. Kind locals – some of whom were not even declared Hillary supporters – fed me zucchini bread and acorn squash, left their doors unlocked in case I needed a snack, restroom or computer, and even gave me a ride in a corn combine. Many Iowans seemed to love the process not only for the chance to see candidates up close, but for the energy and enthusiasm it brought.

Iowa is just as ideologically complex as anywhere else.

The precincts I covered ranged from small towns to expansive farmlands, and like voters across the U.S., they ran the gamut ideologically, from conservative democrats to progressives and everything in between. I even recall a handful of voters telling me they were torn between Obama and Huckabee: two candidates with little in common but their charisma (and of course, winning their respective caucuses that year). These memories flooded back when I read the recent Boston Globe story highlighting New Hampshire voters torn between candidates like Governor John Kasich and Senator Bernie Sanders.

Among other things I learned in Iowa are the real meaning of winter, that there’s such a thing as fried ice cream, and that working with passionate people can make the coldest weather and longest hours enjoyable. As I watch the February 1 caucuses from a distance, I’ll be hoping for a glimpse of the excitement – and of course, for my chosen candidate to pull ahead this time around.

Nicole Giambusso is a director in O’Neill and Associates’ communications division.