Because of confidentiality agreements and the sensitive nature of many of our client engagements, Himle Rapp does not publish our client list. However, due to the public nature of some high-profile engagements where our involvement is known, we can share a sample of client successes.
Keep the Vikings in Minnesota
Trying to gain state approval for a new Minnesota Vikings football stadium has was of the most controversial legislative issues in recent history. Himle Rapp was engaged as a member of the core leadership team providing strategic counsel, public opinion research, communications planning and execution, grassroots development and advocacy in support of the Vikings’ campaign to secure legislative passage of public financing for a new $1 billion football stadium. The stadium legislation passed in May 2012, aided by what many observers noted as the largest grassroots outpouring directed at legislators on behalf of an issue in many years.
After a Crisis
After the collapse of the 35W bridge in 2007, Himle Rapp worked closely with the Flatiron/Manson Joint Venture, Figg Engineering Group and MnDOT to develop and implement a multi-faceted strategy to engage residents in the rebuilding of the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. The plan included policymaker, stakeholder and business outreach and engagement, bridge construction tours that emphasized public interaction, prompt response to concerns and questions, aggressive media relations and internal communications protocols that informed and united project team members. Himle Rapp also supported and provided counsel on the project’s extensive public visioning and visual quality work. As a result, the project engaged thousands of people and increased public understanding of the safety and quality of the bridge, as well as MnDOT itself.
MnDOT was recognized by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association for excellence in public and media relations/education on this project.
Corporate Crisis/Reputation Building
A large, national financial services company was hit with a series of regulatory actions and multiple class action litigation events, resulting in significant media attention. Ramifications of these events included agent dissatisfaction, reduced employee morale, customer avoidance and ultimately, negative consequences to business performance. Himle Rapp was retained to help manage the crisis, develop strategy and produce needed communications to the media, agents, customers and others. In addition, we counseled the company to help identify practices and other issues that were contributing to risk exposures and offered advice on how to mitigate those risks. As part of this process, we designed and managed national market research of the company’s potential client audience to quantify client expectations and concerns. This work laid the foundation of several changes the company implemented to better align its products and practices to market expectations. The company has since been recognized nationally for its turn-around and improved performance.
Corporate Crisis/Reputation Rebuilding
A Fortune 500 natural resource company completed a major expansion of its operations in the Midwest, which at the time, was the largest private capital investment in the history of the state. Unfortunately, the start-up of the new plant experienced several environmental problems that resulted in high-profile negative media stories and calls for more regulation. In fact, the Governor cancelled plans to attend the dedication of the new plant expansion and was openly critical of the company. Himle Rapp assisted the company with the multiple media crises and also provided strategy in how to deal with regulators and policymakers who expressed concerns. Working with the company’s operations personnel, we helped position an operational improvement plan and manage external expectations for improved environmental performance. In addition, we helped strategize how to effectively inform various stakeholders of the company’s ongoing/active conservation programs and helped create a conservation-focused corporate social responsibility program that was well-received and attracted positive attention. Within 18 months, the company was frequently cited by the Governor (who cancelled attending its dedication event) as “the company with the most improved environmental record in the state.”
Reputation and Community Relations
For over a decade, Himle Rapp has been a trusted advisor to one of the country’s best known consumer-facing corporations. We have helped design and facilitate innovative reputation and community relations programs, provide advice on crisis matters and public affairs engagement. We have directly supported business units in how to more effectively enter new markets (with complex local expectations) and how to exit under-performing markets where there could be reputational and political consequences.
Reposition Issue to Change Public Perceptions
When an workplace smoking ban was first proposed in the State of Minnesota, public support for the proposal was mixed, as people weighted the health and economic impacts of this legislation. Working within a broad coalition led by ClearWay Minnesota, the Fresh Air campaign elevated public awareness of the health effects of smoking on bar and restaurant workers. This campaign included creative online and video advocacy grassroots efforts, which helped redefine the hospitality issue and resulted in a bipartisan, comprehensive clean indoor air law, which was signed by the Governor in 2007. Today, polls show strong support for this law among all political affiliations.
“This is a proud and good day for Minnesota to reclaim its proper place in being at the forefront of discouraging smoking and promoting public health.” – Gov. Tim Pawlenty
Build Broad Coalitions
A unique partnership of businesses, transit supporters, road contractors and elected officials helped pass a constitutional amendment for dedicated transportation funding during the 2006 general election. Himle Rapp assisted in the branding and coalition building of Minnesota for Better Roads and Transit, which became the largest coalition (1,000 organizations) in support of a constitutional amendment in state history. We designed and managed extensive public opinion research that revealed a more effective positioning of the amendment campaign than originally assumed. Acting as the overall campaign manager and ongoing strategy advisor, we employed paid advertising, earned media and extensive personal communications strategies to gain support of 57 percent of Minnesota voters.
Political strategists from both sides predicted that Vote Yes would fail, but the transportation amendment passed with the support of 57 percent of Minnesota voters – making it the second most popular candidate on the ballot that year.
Generate Public Support; Securing all Local, State and Federal Funding Approvals
Himle Rapp made the case for a significant public investment to construct and operate Minnesota’s first commuter rail line. This effort involved designing well-coordinated and ongoing public communication. We helped the Northstar Corridor Development Authority build strong community and business relationships and coalitions to create ground-up support; developed effective Web, e-communications and public open house/meeting tools to inform the public; and supported the unique challenges and opportunities of working with multiple jurisdictions. Himle Rapp also conducted extensive public opinion research, media outreach, planned and executed multiple events including news conferences and developed materials supporting project objectives. This work contributed to the project’s success in changing public opinion toward transit, achieving all final state and federal approvals securing bipartisan legislative support for state matching funds, and the successful launch of commuter rail service in November 2009.
74 percent of Northstar Corridor residents and 67 percent of Minnesotans supported approval of final state funding for the project – Public opinion survey