CASE STUDY: Bulletin Displays

Bulletin Displays faced multiple existential threats to its existence as a midsize Outdoor Advertising Company in California.

 

Bulletin Displays' initial concern involved legislation that was quickly moving to authorize digital billboard advertising in the right-of-way of federal and state highways. The purpose of this legislation was to generate revenue for the state's highway maintenance programs. This legislation was supported by statewide labor union groups, a few larger billboard companies, and a combination of Republicans and Democrats. If this bill had passed, advertisers would flock to the few national outdoor advertising companies that had won contracts to construct and operate in the highway right-of-way.

 

Bulletin Displays, a midsize billboard company, was concerned that advertisers would disregard their inventory, which were adjacent to state and federal highways but not in the right-of-way. Lucien Partners assessed that the rationale supporting the legislation was too strong and the opposition, including Bulletin Displays, would not be sufficient. That is... until further inquiry uncovered that many municipalities receive ongoing revenue from outdoor advertising companies and would see their budgets injured with the passage of this legislation.

 

Lucien Partners mobilized to generate opposition to the legislation from cities where Bulletin Displays held inventory. Additional cities began to join in opposition, citing budget uncertainty. While Bulletin Displays and municipal agencies didn't have the State Building and Construction Trade unions and national billboard companies vast political budgets, they had the ear of key legislators on the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. Additionally, several of the Senators had local electoral ambitions and wanted to vote to support local governments.

 

Once cities flooded offices with letters of opposition concerning the impact this legislation would have on budgets, Lucien Partners began communicating with public sector unions who represented employees throughout various cities. Less money was on the table for collective bargaining if cities revenues were lower because of a Sacramento/State money-grab. This flood of communication was more than the author had anticipated when agreeing to author the legislation, and he dropped the bill before it had an opportunity to be heard in its first policy committee.

 

Coalition building is about applying multiple pressure points that collectively create enough pressure to yield the desired outcome. Lucien Partners is not just a Rolodex lobbying firm. Lucien Partners understands policy and the impacts of policy decisions on constituencies whose voices can influence decisions. This was key to Bulletin Displays' victory.

 

 

In a separate issue, Bulletin Displays contacted Lucien Partners 72 hours before a state regulator was set to deny a set of permits to the company. Denial of the permits would cost the company a dozen digital billboards that had taken years to plan.

 

Lucien Partners triangulated around the state agency going directly to the Governor's Office and the Agency's Head. Denial of the permits would be unnecessary if the Agency considered the permit applications after a new law went into effect in the next 45 days. Lucien Partners again assembled a coalition of voices, but we also enlisted key legislators who had oversight authority of the Agency's budget.

 

Within 48 hours of Lucien Partners being contacted, an agreement was reached to toll consideration until the new law took effect and would yield a more favorable outcome for Bulletin Displays.

 

Regulators are appointed and accountable to elected officials; however, they are most sensitive to the legislators who sit on the budget subcommittees that pertain to the specific regulator's budget. Elected officials are appointed and accountable to voters. Lucien Partners understands pressure points and preemptively plans to activate the various pressure points needed to seek quick resolutions.

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