The public affairs shop founded by longtime Republican practitioner Mike DuHaime in January is expanding with Democratic consultant Laura Matos joining the new shingle as a partner.
The two share New Jersey connections — it’s DuHaime’s home state — with Matos having served as New Jersey general manager and managing director at public affairs shop Kivvit after stints as a senior staffer for many of the state’s top Democratic officeholders.
“It was a goal of mine to quickly become a bipartisan firm as the problems companies and non-profits face are not Republican or Democrat,” said DuHaime, who heads Mad Global Strategy Group. “Clients need smart people with different perspectives to help figure out solutions and have the ability to execute.”
In an interview, Matos told C&E the public affairs shop is focused, as much of the industry is these days, on audience segmenting.
“Identifying where those persuadable folks lie and talking to them, and also who can you already identify that is on your side, making sure that they’re engaged without turning them off,” she said. “But for every issue there are people who are never going to agree. And I think identifying those people as their own separate audience that you don’t want to talk to is one of the most important pieces as well.”
That audience-targeting focus was accelerated by the pandemic, which limited in-person events and heightened the industry’s focus on digital.
To wit, consider the founding of Tunnl last fall. The off-shoot of GOP digital shop Deep Root Analytics is focused on helping mission-driven corporate marketers run multi-layered campaigns.
“At a core level, you want an audience that matches the creative. If you’re building an audience that is perusable on climate change issues, there’s a psychographic profile of that audience,” Fagen told C&E in September 2021.
Another covid-induced change in the public affairs space could be the expectations clients have around government action. During the pandemic, the federal government quickly passed spending initiatives that transferred huge amounts of money to the states that are still struggling to spend it.
But Matos said she doesn’t believe those moves changed what expectations clients should have for action on their issues.
“Spending time on the front end learning who you’re trying to talk to and what will cut through to them will allow you to refine your campaigns in a way that you won’t have to make that sacrifice of needing more time or a larger budget,” she said.