Successful Campaign Strategies Are Built on the Affirmative Approach; Not Who Yells the Loudest

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By Paul Larrabee, APR

During a recent account post-mortem, the client revealed that my repeated urgings to deliver affirmative messages took a while for him to understand – and embrace.

Prior to working with Corning Place Communications – his images of the public relations pro were spin meisters based on the fictional portrayals advanced by Frank Underwood via House of Cards or for some of the more seasoned readers episodes of the West Wing or screenings of Wag the Dog.

Likely a frustration many PRCs have witnessed – and fought to overcome.

While affirmative messaging is one of our fundamentals (the others being layered distribution and sustained commitment – and perhaps a blog for another time) some of our successful clients, and defeated opponents initially think we are unwilling to throw a punch. Guess again. We’ll hit you with the force of a sledge hammer – but you’ll be on the ground shaking loose the cob webs before you realized you’ve been flattened.

However, today’s trend toward the extreme, to shout louder, or advance an outrageous claim are part of a caricature best left to late night spoof and satire.

Facts and research validate your campaign. A target audience whether they be consumers, businesses, constituents or politicians know when you are able to articulate a rationale that supports your goals, objectives and values. That’s true in Capitol corridors, corporate conference rooms and broadcast studios.

Over the years we have worked with various police, firefighters and labor organizations. Their leadership is often reluctant to abandon an approach based on picket lines and rallies that they saw work for multiple generations. But in many communities, the old-playbook simply no longer applies.

Implementing a detailed communications plan, and leveraging opportunity are the first steps at easing apprehension. After hands-on instruction teaching rank-and-file how to establish a social media presence or plan a twitter storm further bolster confidence. However, we also offer cautious counsel — the social media tool kit is full of sharp objects requiring a healthy respect and a clear- and measured response.

Earned media placements featuring affirmative messaging and supportive editorials bring easy smiles – because the campaign road map provides a path with milestones leading to a desired destination. One that a few months ago was only an idea with an uncertain future.

The client continued: “Today, I hear you in my head – ‘Say what you are for… Don’t fall into the trap of tearing an opponent down … You can amplify your voice without sounding like a teen-age garage band with a history of blown speakers’.”

It is that kind of communication courtship that leads to a long-term relationship and mutual success.


Paul Larrabee, APR, leads Corning Place Communications, a full-service public relations firm specializing in strategic communications, public affairs and crisis management located in Albany, NY.

He has been a member of PRC Group since 2016, and his client roster includes colleges, corporations, first responders and not-for-profits.

Prior to joining the private sector in 2011, he served for more than 22 years in senior roles for three Governor’s, an Attorney General and the state legislative leadership.


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