An Interview with Webb Strategic Communications
12/18/19 / David Kennedy
Have you ever had those friends where you’ve known them so long that you can’t even remember how you’ve met? When we were recently chatting with Ginny Williams, Principal, and Andy Cohen, Accounts Supervisor, of Webb Strategic Communications, we realized we couldn’t pinpoint our initial work together. No surprise given that we have worked for, and alongside, Webb for the better part of our 20 years.
In that time, both our firms have evolved, both in the nature of our work and in name. Webb Strategic Communications formerly known as Webb PR, and Corona Insights formerly known as Corona Research. Both rebranding efforts reflected the need each company saw to provide more complete, and more strategic, offerings to clients.
For Webb, the theme of the change they’ve seen is integration. As noted above, they started out as a public relations firm and have since come to focus on strategic communications – integrating various communication approaches such as social, owned media, advertising, news coverage and direct outreach. As Andy put it, “The idea that you can reach your target audience with one type of media just isn’t a reality.”
Helping clients create leadership around an issue fuels the success of Webb’s social marketing work. This allows for greater gains and credibility rather just increasing touchpoints. As Ginny noted, research is an important driver of creating that content.
Today, Webb emphasizes strategy and planning as a critical phase of its work and that is where they most often partner with Corona to conduct research. While communication strategy planning can always benefit from research, social norms campaigns, in particular, rely on evidence-based messaging. As Ginny stated, “To put forth something compelling, you have to back it up with something more than an opinion.”
15 Years and Counting
Over the past 15 or so years, we have partnered with the Webb team on everything from conducting research on college campuses, to small towns, and to statewide research for government agencies. One common thread that runs across all of work has been that of community – making our communities safer, better places to live.
For example, our longest running project together has been for the Persistent Drunk Driving (PDD) campaign through the Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health. Initially focused on persistent drunk drivers (anyone convicted of more than one offense), it has expanded to include additional actions that lead to impaired driving (e.g., marijuana, prescription drugs, etc.). As the focus has shifted, so too has the campaign and, therefore, the research and evaluation needed. What started as strictly evaluation in local communities changed into conducting research to inform social norms campaigns on college campuses.
One such campaign included the Truth Fairy which sought to educate students and shift their perceptions of what’s “normal” as it pertains to driving while impaired (i.e., their fellow students were much less likely to drive while impaired than most believed).
According to Ginny and Andy, when the campaign moved to the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs (UCCS) campus, the research really helped pinpoint the brand for that campus’s campaign, Smart Move UCCS. The campaign ended up being used not only for drinking and driving prevention, but for all prevention campaigns (e.g., alcohol, drug, domestic violence, etc.) on campus. It is still in use today.
That campaign, and several other iterations of it, eventually led to Webb creating a guide for other campuses beyond Colorado to use in their own efforts.
Other projects have included work for Webb regarding a construction company and their regional effort to become a bigger part of the community, and work to inform, then evaluate, a campaign for the Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC). Corona’s initial research helped Webb create their strategic recommendations. As Ginny said, “[the client] had a lot of messages and the research helped them prioritize what behavior to focus on in the campaign.”
When describing Corona, Ginny and Andy offered the following:
- Easy to work with;
- Gives their best recommendation but not rigid; and
- On-time and on budget.
“We always appreciated your approach to data analysis and reporting. Never felt like we had to get on a call to understand or get more meaning from it. You approach it through a lens of what’s meaningful, not just tables of results.”Andy Cohen
It has been wonderful partnering with the Webb team over the past 15 years, especially considering the longevity of both our teams has allowed such a consistent working partnership. We look forward to celebrating future milestones of both companies well into the future.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, after some more internal sleuthing, we think our paths first crossed in the early 2000’s when we both worked for CDOT, though not directly together, and then later in 2005 when did work together on the PDD campaigns in Steamboat Springs, Alamosa, and Greeley.
Throughout 2019, to help celebrate our 20th Anniversary, we are profiling our staff and select clients. Click here to view all of our interviews.
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