Finding Common Ground Across a Cultural Divide

One of the largest steel producers in the world had $1.8 billion at risk in new investments located at a historically significant site situated directly next to residential subdivisions. After significant upgrades to the site, the steelmaker still needed a renewal of their environmental quality operating permit and resolution of EPA environmental concerns. The neighborhoods involved primarily African-American and Latino populations, with very tight-knit Arabic Yemini Muslim communities living right next to the plant. Elementary and middle schools are directly across the street from the plant, with air quality concerns.

We developed a comprehensive proprietary Strategic Communication Management Plan approach that included extensive community outreach and engagement that resulted in the political context that supported the successful renewal of its operating license. A full range of communication tools were used ranging from ethic newspapers stories and ads, to town hall meetings, community advisory panels, government relations and direct mail.

All our materials for the program were done in English, Spanish and Arabic.  Translators were used at town hall meetings as many attendees are newly arrived immigrants with limited English.

Other community engagements have included an outreach brokering for a Supplemental Environmental Program (SEP) to provide air conditioning and air treatment systems for the neighboring elementary and middle schools.  Air quality concerns – with the symbolism of little children – were a major hurtle to community relations; and we have now turned that concern into support for the client.

Growing an Educational Jewel

The largest urban community college in Michigan, with six campuses across 32 cities and townships covering 500 square miles was in disarray and had gone through 15 presidents in 30 years.

Bassett & Bassett was engaged by a new Chancellor to rebrand, reposition and grow the college, both in students and community support.

Our proprietary Strategic Communication Management Plan role ranged from high-level strategic counsel to boots-on-the-ground emergency and crisis management 24-7-365.  All materials were produced in English, Spanish and Arabic.  We even added day care facilities during registration, and introduced online registration.

We have produced special events, a social media program, as well as an editorial schedule for a custom publication program which includes but is not limited to Legislative Updates, nationally published books and neighborhood newsletters, to campus promotions, neighborhood town halls and specialized curriculum promotions.

Today, the College District is one of the largest in the state with more than 70,000 students and has become a national model. The District has passed two millages, including in the anti-tax environment of recent general elections.

Rebranding a Vital Health Care Resource

A psychiatric hospital’s census had dropped to unsustainable patient loads when a national organization purchased it, furthering a terrible reputation in the mental health community and resulting in a sharp drop in admissions.

A comprehensive proprietary Strategic Communication Management Plan that ranged from site re-design, architectural presentation improvements and non-verbal interior improvements to direct community outreach and engagement.  Near neighbors were door-knocked, community groups were engaged, and a major re-branding day-long open house was held; along with a traditional array of communication tools.

The result was a dramatic increase in admission to the point of a waiting list, significant drop in neighbor complaints and a steady stream of referrals from the mental health community.

Informing the Community During Tough Times

We were hired by a city pension system at the beginning of the Detroit bankruptcy to take them through it, including member support and successful voting for accepting of the Plan of Adjustment (POA).  Our proprietary Strategic Communication Management Plan included an extensive range of strategies and tools.  We re-designed and re-built their web site to be more user-friendly and to communicate urgent information on a nearly real-time basis.

We provided a complete set of services from 24-7 national and international news media relations to town halls and strategic counsel. Our extensive town halls and the supportive community activities resulted in the members voting in favor of the POA even with a reduction in benefits.  We are continuing with town halls and digital updates as members continue to sort through the changes.

Car Guys to Hometown Heroes

We created and managed re-branding and re-positioning for a group of 39 auto dealers who had endured a series of earned media attacks.

We were hired in a nationally precedent setting first to use advertisings dollars for public relations and strategic planning.  We re-branded and re-positioned the group to great success.  We created a two track strategy of regional branding and individual store hometown branding.

Starting with “Wildflower Paintings” on major metro freeway entry points, the regional program grew into the dealers becoming the major summer event presenter ranging from the boat races on the river to one of the largest country music festivals in the region.

The flowers program was seen as green, environmentally friendly and a gift to commuters; unexpected from “car dealers” at that time.  The media went crazy with love for our car guys.

The earned media in one year alone from one of the summer events had a persuasion publicity value that exceeded $14 million and represented a massive increase online coverage and exposure.

The Strategic Communication Management Plan program became a national case study in the industry.  Working collaboratively with the national advertising agency, we moved the dealer group to the number one or number two sales positon in all car lines, representing 20 percent of their brand’s national sales.

Individual “micro-plans” were provided for the separate stores to tell their engagement and involvement stores to their communities.  Stories ranged from local charities to store openings.  We did the Strategic Communication Management Plan program for the successful opening of an 80,000 square foot dealer, then the largest in the nation.

Building the Ballpark

Engaged by a sports management and entertainment organization to develop support for a new baseball park in the region, Bassett & Bassett created a “Build the Ballpark” office and brand.  We marshaled an extensive political campaign style program that resulted in a coalition ranging from Detroit leaders and Legislators to sports advocates and neighbors that has become a national success and model of what is best in baseball ballparks.

Helping a Startup Get Room to Grow

One of the largest urban reforestation projects in the nation required engagement across a spectrum of neighbors, community organizations, corporate leaders and policy makers to transform nearly 140 acres of blighted land on Detroit’s east side to a neighborhood featuring an urban tree farm where residents would want to live, work and play.

We used a Strategic Communication Management Plan approach to overcome an initially hostile reception based on misinformation, misunderstanding and fear of the unknown. A full range of communication tools – ranging from town halls and individual door knocking, to media and public relations, to social media and proof-of-concept pilot programs, and all forms of publicity – were used to create understanding and support across audiences.

In 2014 the project was celebrated with more than 1,400 people planting 15,000 trees in the first annual planting. The City of Detroit lauded the project, and the project became a story with sustained global interest, including a documentary entered in the Sundance Film Festival.

In 2015, more than 2,200 people showed up to plan an additional 5,000 hardwood trees and to celebrate the rebirth of the Detroit east-side neighborhood.