Jockeying continues among firms trying to win their piece of the Beltway advocacy spend that’s expected to swell as the new Congress and Biden administration get to work.
On Tuesday, comms shop ROKK Solutions announced it was formally teaming with long-time dial-tester Engagious on a co-marketing agreement to pitch advocacy clients on a way to navigate the new Washington. The announcement comes after the two shops had teamed during the pandemic on the Back to Normal Barometer, which used focus groups to gauge consumer sentiment.
“Strategic communications complimented with hard data regarding consumer attitudes is the trend that we’re heading in as communications consultants,” Ron Bonjean, who co-founded ROKK Solutions, told C&E. “No longer is it viable [just] to provide top-shelf advice, [firms need] to have the data and the market research to back it up. We can now drill down into the opinions of Americans very quickly.”
Bonjean said with a new Congress and Biden administration coming into DC and taking over leadership of the pandemic response, it was the perfect time to start pitching their services jointly: “When you have a new political dynamic that can really impact an organization’s bottom line, they need to have the right tools in place as soon as possible to understand how to successfully navigate this confusing situation.”
Bonjean and Engagious President Rich Thau have a business relationship going back 15 years. But it was a dinner in early March 2020 in DC that started them on a more formal partnership. That led to working on the Barometer, which also counts the Sports and Leisure Research Group as a collaborator, and now jointly pitching services.
“The pandemic reinforced the value of partnerships,” said Thau, who has switched to conducting focus groups remotely through Zoom. By jointly offering their services, Thau said communications clients can move beyond receiving advice based on “intuition.”
“Ron and Rodell [Mollineau] recognize that being able to offer that additional perspective is so critical to helping their clients communicate more effectively.”
Tuesday’s announcement follows a trend in the advocacy space that saw several high-profile acquisitions as 2020 drew to a close. Phone2Action ended last year on a buying spree — acquiring KnowWho, “the world’s largest directory of public officials and influencers,” and GovPredict, which provides legislative, regulatory, and issue monitoring. Both moves were fueled by Phone2Action’s link up with Frontier Growth, a Charlotte-based growth equity firm.