Tom Garrity

Archive for the ‘Messaging’ Category

Navigating the Conservative Divide

In Messaging, Uncategorized on March 27, 2017 at 4:39 pm


The congressional stalemate over repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the inauguration of the American Health Care Act should not have come as a surprise if perspectives of New Mexico conservatives were taken into consideration.

The increasing split among traditional “republican” institutions like the oil and gas industry or the church and religious organizations are testament to the changing tide of conservatives, akin to Moses’ parting of the Red Sea.

This split, identified in the 2016 Garrity Perception Survey, served not only as a precursor of the national presidential election but also as a guide for what is playing out during the first 100 days of the Trump administration.

While I touched on some of these splits in this May 2016 blog post “A Political Divide as Scenic as the Taos Gorge” , it is important to revisit some of the key items that have surfaced and will surface in some form or fashion.

Medical System – Conservatives are more favorable than those who identify themselves as “somewhat conservative” (SW/C).  Interestingly, according to this quantitative study, liberals and conservatives are aligned in one group just as moderates and somewhat conservatives are aligned.  Insight: National healthcare policy should play to the middle if politicians want to win popular opinion.

Solar/Wind – Conservatives are not favorable toward renewable energy; only 37 percent of residents are favorable toward the industry.  This is in stark contrast to those who identify themselves as SW/C, 55 percent of whom are favorable toward the solar and wind industry. That 18 point divide is significant.  Also, the SW/C and moderates are more aligned than those right of center. Insight: The Trump Administration’s unraveling of the Obama Administration’s Clean Energy Plan should focus on the political middle ground of those favorable toward the solar and wind industry if there is desire of winning public approval.

Church/Religious Institutions – The 19 percentage point split between conservatives (82 percent) and SW/C (63 percent) should be a red flare for how some social issues and belief systems are perceived by New Mexico residents.  Recently, the Catholic Church, under its new papal leadership, has been reaching more towards the middle ground on some hot button language; even if it has just been in its message and tone.  In contrast, some other belief groups have been pushing more to the fringe.  Insight: Public opinion over current and future Republican Supreme Court Nominees, and their ability to successfully navigate the confirmation process, will need to find a way to mimic the tone being exhibited by the Catholic Church when trying to reach the middle ground.

These are interesting times, indeed.  While research provides only a snapshot in time, the glimpse can help elected and appointed officials navigate difficult terrain.

Duran’s Sentence Provides #PR Opportunity

In Messaging, Reputation on December 14, 2015 at 6:43 pm

The sentencing phase of ex-New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran over campaign finance violations captured the attention of media, elected officials and key opinion leaders around our state.   It also captured the attention of The Garrity Group Public Relations team.

The sentence includes the things that often go with finance related crimes: restitution, fines and certain prohibitions. But this sentence, because the person is a statewide elected official, also includes a mandated submission of letters to the editor, public speeches and outreach to acknowledge her wrongdoing and to help others from going down the same path.

While the crime she is potentially guilty of committing (as of this writing there are some legal maneuvers that could vacate the sentence) pales in comparison to other elected officials, the District Court Judge handed down a sentence that is ripe with public relation opportunities to restore her reputation.

Discussions with our team, after the live television coverage ended, included the following observations for how ex-Secretary of State Dianna Duran could use the sentence to her benefit:

  • Use the letters to the editor to show remorse for the victims who donated to her campaign and to raise awareness about the issue of gaming addictions.
  • Use the public appearances to acknowledge her crime as a way to introduce solutions on how to keep this from happening to others by proposing changes to the laws she was charged to uphold (she is also a former State Senator).
  • After her rehabilitation, aligning with anti-gaming groups as a spokesperson
  • Start an affinity group to address the issues of rebuilding trust in government

The ingredients of rebuilding trust include clear, consistent and transparent information. Trust is an issue that has plagued State Government Officials.; according to the annual 2015 Garrity Perception Survey, only 20 percent of New Mexico residents trust State Government Officials. But the elephant in the room (and donkey, to be fair) is that nearly half of New Mexico residents distrust state government officials.

The proposed sentence handed down by District Court Judge Glenn Ellington to the ex-Secretary of State should be a rally cry for all elected officials to rebuild trust with the electorate by leveraging the same tactics to promote (and enact) meaningful change to win back trust of the residents and electorate.

GPS Trust of State Government Officials 2011 2015.001

Understanding the East (ern Part of New Mexico)

In Messaging, Reputation on April 14, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Roswell2Eastern New Mexico has a complex.

It is misunderstood and stereotyped by people who live along the Rio Grande corridor of central New Mexico.

Politically diverse, the 2012 Presidential election provided a significant wakeup call for Republicans.  Their votes, for Republican Mitt Romney, in the seven counties that border Texas were off-set in Santa Fe County, by Democrats who were voting for President Barak Obama.

Tourism in Eastern New Mexico is defined by Carlsbad Caverns and the UFO phenomenon.  But it is accented by the Norman & Vi Petty Rock ‘N’ Roll Museum and roadside attractions like the windmill farm in Portales.

Economically, the region relies upon agriculture, fossil fuels and renewable energy for jobs.  As a result, the region sees significant domestic and foreign immigrant traffic.  The area also has a strong federal and state government presence.

When we look at the 2012 Garrity Perception Survey, we learn a little bit about who residents trust, which industries are viewed as favorable as well as how Eastern New Mexico residents access news and information.

Residents living on the Eastern plains have a very favorable impression of the farm and ranch industry, organized religion and the oil and gas industry.  They favor local banks over national banks by a 2:1 margin, and have the same level of favorability in K-12, higher education and the solar/wind industry.

Blood is thicker than water as Eastern New Mexico residents trust family members twice as much as doctors, teachers or police officers. While Eastern residents access news and information in similar ways to those around New Mexico, they have a very low level of trust in journalists.

When it comes to New Mexico’s signature events, residents in Eastern New Mexico like the Balloon Fiesta at a rate that is three times higher than the annual UFO Festival that takes place in their own back yard.

The late and great Buddy Holly once said “I’m not trying to stump anybody… it’s the beauty of the language that I’m interested in.”  Perhaps, in a way, he was referring to Eastern New Mexico, where he recorded many of his “pop” hits.  Eastern New Mexico isn’t trying to stump anyone, it is just a unique place that can’t be easily placed in the New Mexico “box.”

Image from one of the original UFO themed marketing campaigns for the City of Roswell (circa 1997)

The 365 News Cycle

In Messaging on January 7, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Media via ZimbioIn 2013, there will be a minimum of 365 news cycles, each of those composed of respective micro-news cycles.

In each 30-minute television news cycle, an average of eight minutes is set aside for news (the rest is composed of weather, sports or national fluff, teases and advertising).

Once you get past the spot news and other local news cycles there is really only about two minutes (on a good day) that is available for business news, announcements, ribbon cuttings and non-crime community happenings.

Who is fighting for that two-minute window?  In New Mexico, on any given day, there are about 40-50 organizations and communication firms that are trying to be relevant to one person, the assignment editor.

Assuming your idea makes it past the first gatekeeper, there is a hierarchy of approvals that need to be bestowed in order get on the schedule. Even then, making the schedule doesn’t guarantee coverage, your story/event could (and probably will) be preempted by the crime de jour, which will occur about 20 minutes before the media is set to show up.


For organizations to be successful in connecting with their target audience over the next 365 news cycles, they will have to be better at being relevant to their target audiences… absent of traditional media coverage.

Now don’t get me wrong, mass media is the quickest and most credible way to share your story.  Communicators need to be sure there is a healthy mix of traditional media relations built into tactical outreach plans.  Just don’t bet the farm on a media event when determining overall success.

If Peter Drucker is correct then “the aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

Shaping public perception and motivating public action is complemented by the 365 news cycle but it is rooted through enabling your loyal customers/messengers to share your story.

Image shared via (May 30, 2012 – Source: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America)

NM Trust in Media

In Messaging, Reputation on September 24, 2012 at 11:09 pm

The Gallup Corporation recently issued results of a national survey gauging the level of trust people have toward mass media.

In the 2012 survey, Democrats are much more trustworthy of mass media (58 percent) than those identifying themselves as Independent (31 percent) and Republican (26 percent).

If 2011 is an indicator, New Mexico residents have a higher trust in mass media than the typical American.

Research and Polling asked a similar question as a part of the 2011 Garrity Perception Survey (GPS) commissioned by The Garrity Group.  The 2011 GPS and 2011 Gallup surveys had a similar (not identical) process, asking respondents to rate their trust worthiness of media sources on a scale of 1-5.

Participants in the 2011 Gallup’s survey had more trust in mass media if they were a Democrat (56 percent) than either Republicans or Independents (both rating their trust at 38 percent).

Here is the 2011 GPS breakdown of how New Mexico residents trust mass media (Independent voters are identified as those who “decline to state” a political affiliation):

Local Newspapers:  53 percent of Democrats trust newspaper, compared to 49 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of all Independents.

Local Television News: 65 percent of all democrats trust what they see on the local newscasts compared to 59% of republicans and 55% of Independents.

National Broadcast News: 68 percent of Democrats trust the national news sources compared to 54 percent of Republicans and 40% of those who are Independent voters.

Radio News Coverage: 46 percent of Democrats trust what they hear, compared to 44 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of Independent voters.

When New Mexico residents were asked to gauge the trustworthiness of their “conversations with friends” Republicans had a higher level of trust (44 percent) than Democrats (37 percent) and Independent voters (31 percent).

Advertising had only single digit level trust among all of those identifying a political party affiliation.

So now New Mexico residents know why all they see on television are political ads and why your friends are shy to ask about your political opinions.

A tourist in your own backyard

In Messaging on May 2, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Since the last recession, tourism organizations and destinations have been talking about the value of instate tourism.  And why not?  It makes sense.

The best customers are your existing customers or are those who already believe in the product.  Living in New Mexico means we like it here.  Frederick Weller (who played the character Marshall Mann on the USA Network program In Plain Sight, filmed in Albuquerque) told the ABQ Journal that Albuquerque is “like a little decoder ring or spy ring of funkiness. Once you decode it, there’s a lot offered.”

As a part of the 2012 Garrity Perception Survey we “decoded” the perceptions of New Mexico residents about events, festivals, SpacePort America and where they like traveling in New Mexico.

The results will be introduced first to the New Mexico Tourism Commission as a part of its meeting on May 14th in Taos.  Additional, new information, will be presented to the Governors Conference on Tourism as a part of a luncheon presentation later in the week.

When preliminary information was presented to representatives from the State Department of Tourism and Spaceport America it was nice to see that some of the data surprised them.  Be sure to keep an eye on our newsletter to see how you can get a copy of our findings.

But research is just that, research.  What is important is what you do with the information.  We are in the process of developing outreach programs that cater to the income levels and geographic areas of New Mexico residents planning to take more than three leisure trips over the next twelve months.

Finally, on the event and festival front, we were really surprised to see how one “staple” New Mexico event is perceived by New Mexico residents.  Stay turned.  Information is fast approaching… just in time for the summer travel season!

My enemy’s friend is my…

In Messaging on March 27, 2012 at 10:37 pm

There is a saying in international diplomacy that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.”  Lately, one local media outlet has turned that old adage into “my enemy’s friend is my friend.”

With the documented decline of traditional print journalism(detailed in the 2011 and soon to be released 2012 Garrity Perception Survey), media outlets like the Albuquerque Journal and New Mexico Business Weekly have been more deliberate about their online footprint.

Reporters for the Albuquerque Journal have been successful in building an online following; tweeting about stories they are developing or sharing links to their published stories.

The New Mexico Business Weekly has been building its following through promotion of enterprise and wire stories from other group-owned Business Weeklies. And getting more vocal with Twitter.

The new @NMBW publisher @_IanAnderson has been active in tweeting sponsored events and articles of interest from outside his newspaper group.  The source list includes @WSJ @PNM and, as of this weekend, @JFleck the lead science reporter for across town rival @ABQJournal.

Yes, there has always been friendly banter among co-workers @newsieHeather and @antoinetteA as well as @amberlee_wx and @stILETtO7.  There is also a friendly dialog with that group and the print side of #twitter that includes @jolinegkg as well as cross channel rival @katiemkim mixing it up about issues and social plans.

Outside of established marketing partnership between certain media organizations, the cross promotion of editorial is something that isn’t seen often, if ever.

The @_IanAnderson approach is brilliant.  By sharing information from a competitor he is showing his followers as well as those who follow @JFleck that he is a resource for information.. regardless of its source.  That kind of approach has a way of building followers and credibility in the social media realm.

Building Blocks and a Ball

In Messaging on March 15, 2012 at 7:37 pm

The recent “Building Effective Community Outreach” roundtable at the PRSA Western District Conference provided some great insight from various communication professionals.

One of the things I promised, as a moderator, was to forward some helpful links pertaining to community outreach and corporate social responsibility.

Start Something That Matters – this is the link for the book written by founder of TOMS shoes Blake Mycoskie.  I’ve given this book to some friends in the business as a new way to look at CSR.  One of the recipients even took an idea from the book to send one of the most unique “thank you’s” I’ve ever received.

CorpsGiving – this is an organization that helps to organize “both large-scale volunteer programs and large-scale branded events.”  Think of them as an event planner for charities that want to do something big but lack the people power to get it done.

RockCorps – is a unique approach that uses music to inspire people to volunteer.  They do have a clever mission “Got 2 Give 2 Get”.  They have their own volunteer database and work with organizations of various sizes.

Of course, if you are looking for a masters or Ph. D. approach to CSR, there is a great event at the end of the month sponsored by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship.  They will have their annual conference in Phoenix from March 25-27, 2012.

Special thanks to Tiffany Payne with Comcast for providing insight on these and other organizations that provide a great service to those in the CSR arena.

Resume with a Twist

In Messaging on March 2, 2012 at 10:18 pm

The recession brings out the best and worst in people. This has manifested itself in many different things, including how people develop resumes.

Now, if you are applying for a position with a national laboratory or an engineering firm, this blog post might not be applicable.  But like most things on the net, it is free and there is a certain consideration for the price you paid for this advice.

When it comes to resumes, I am a traditionalist.  I like to see where people have worked, the dates, responsibilities and accomplishments.  In recent years there has been a move to write towards your skills instead of your experience.

For example, someone who sold shoes at a store in the mall might list this in a traditional resume: “Sales Associate, Bob’s Shoe Company – Provided sales support for Bob’s shoes and helped to set new sales records.”  Then there is the “skills” based resume: “Marketing – Developed sales strategies for a national shoe company.”

You see the difference?  The “Skills” approach is useful if you don’t have direct marketing experience.  But from an employer’s perspective, it is a bit maddening trying to figure out what kind of experience a candidate has when going through the hiring process.

My suggestion is a hybrid approach, with a twist.  List your experience and list your skill areas.  That way you provide a prospective employer your past employment and your skill sets.

Here is the twist, include a few one-paragraph case study that features your problem solving capabilities.  If you have a lot of information put two of those together on a second sheet.  Include things like the situation you walked into, the challenges, strategies developed, how it was implemented and the results.

From a hiring perspective, if you give me your experience, skills and a few success stories, then you’ve done a great job in getting my attention.

Go Barefoot?

In Messaging on February 25, 2012 at 11:36 pm

We’ve all heard the sad tale of how the “shoemaker’s children go barefoot” and can all relate, to a degree, about how that correlates to our own businesses and professions.

For the first 13 years, that saying described The Garrity Group Public Relations.  We do amazing things for our clients but fall short on touting our own successes.

Two years ago, we started a strategic planning process.   It started by focusing on the vision and mission.  Then shifted to identifying the clients we wanted to work with and could benefit from our expertise.

One of the focus areas identified in our strategic planning process was to be the public relations thought leader for New Mexico.  That idea manifested itself in the Garrity Perception Survey.

It was a third party survey commissioned by the firm that focused on  the perceptions of New Mexico residents on 16 industries and trust of 16 professions.  We identified how people access news and information in our state and how much they trusted government or corporations.

The survey opened doors and helped us to move closer as the firm that leading organizations turn to for critical opportunities and issues that impact their operations in New Mexico.

I’ll be sharing some insight about our planning process and how we leveraged the perception survey to increase market position and secure top tier clients at the Public Relations Society of America’s Western District Conference, March 12-13 in Denver, Colorado.  Here is the website for more information on how to register and participate in the discussion: