Case Studies



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Smith & Stark offers every service needed for a comprehensive public affairs solution.  Our primary services are:


Strategic Planning
It isn’t the plan that’s important, General Eisenhower said, it’s the planning.

That is to say, what really matters is a disciplined process of evaluating courses of action, clarifying what matters most and what things you must affect, when, and how.

Whether you need a complex plan and a formal planning process or you need a simple plan in a hurry, we insist on the planning.  Yes, we’ve learned the value of executing from a clear playbook.  But we also find our clients appreciate the accountability of having a plan and the clarity that comes from the process. 

Smith & Stark is experienced in producing everything from short-term quick response plans to brand and image repositioning plans, formal corporate public affairs and communications plans, crisis management plans and issue management plans.  We have the objectivity to see things as they are, the discipline to be thorough, the freshness to question old assumptions, and the creativity to think of new ways of doing things.


Communication Tools
In today’s world of rapidly evolving communications technologies, there are more communication tools than ever.  The greater challenge is knowing which tool to use for which audience and purpose. 

Smith & Stark not only helps the client select the right tools, we know how to make them attractive and effective.

Whether you need a social media campaign or a simple brochure, an audiovisual presentation or a complex website, or perhaps a major online ad campaign or a simple but effective print ad, Smith & Stark can put together the communications product that are designed for the right audience and will have the effect you desire.

We know how to pick the tools and if needed, the specialists, to ensure your communications achieve your objectives – strategically and cost-effectively.


Political Counsel
The foundation of public affairs is an understanding of politics and political process.  Smith & Stark have been immersed in both for decades. 

Our range of experience in local, state, and federal government and politics is seldom matched – we have worked in all levels of government, helped candidates win office at all levels of government, advised officials at all levels of government, and designed and won advocacy campaigns at all levels of government.

Drawing on our experience, knowledge, and relationships, we advise clients on the best way to approach often-delicate political issues.

We understand the point of view of decision makers and all the techniques to connect the dots to a favorable decision.  Moreover, we know how to help our clients operate effectively in the political arena.  We believe that one’s conduct is as important as one’s results.  In fact, we won’t help a client conduct themselves in a way that would undermine their long-term, sustainable success.


Media Strategies
To even discuss media these days is to raise the question of what it is, let alone whether it works for a given situation.  The old choices have new constraints, yet the applicability of many new choices remain unproven. 

The degree of change in the last decade in how people get information is obviously without precedent.  Is the media still evolving?  Clearly.  Can you afford to make the wrong bet in how you reach your audiences?  We didn’t think so.

Smith & Stark relies on a strategic approach to media.  Based on our strategic plan and message, we evaluate such issues as:

  • Is the client served well by media coverage?  If so, how can it be optimized: what kind, when, and how often?

  • How can we get the most favorable coverage and how can we avoid being blindsided?

  • Is the client prepared to deliver the message effectively in the media or do they require training and other support?

  • Who else will be trying to affect the same coverage?  What are their capabilities?  How will the client’s message contrast with competitors’ and how will the media portray it?  

  • Should we add a paid advertising component to the media plan?  Again, which media fit the situation?

A Smith & Stark specialty is addressing the opinion leader audience through op-eds, letters to the editor, and blogs.

We also assist the client with honing their messages and delivery for interviews or comment to the media. And we are constantly updating our media toolbox as new media arise and influence new audiences.


Crisis Management and Crisis Response Planning
Any organization or individual is vulnerable to unforeseen events.  Whether you are overtaken by a crisis and need immediate guidance, or you see the value in preparing to respond to potential crisis events, Smith & Stark has the experience to help.

In the midst of a crisis, there is no substitute for an experienced counselor in the war-room. 

  • What should be said?  By whom? 

  • Which audiences need attention first? 

  • How is the best way to reach them?

  • How should you manage the rumor mill?

  • How should your online presence factor into your response?

We’ve been there; we know how to contain the damage and find the positives.  

Often the approach is to confront the situation directly and communicate what will be done in the future, moving the focus past the event.  Smith & Stark brings speed, confidentiality, experience, and sensitivity to a client’s most urgent communications challenges

Smith & Stark can also help a client prepare to manage and respond through a future crisis.  We apply our experience and our planning skills to create an emergency response system that anticipates adverse events and spells out the best way to get on top and stay on top of a crisis.  We can train the client to work effectively through a crisis.


Public Opinion
Successful public strategies require a thorough understanding of public opinion. 

Getting to that insight calls for the kind of experience and skill that Smith & Stark have honed over decades.  We know which techniques to use, which pollsters or focus group moderator to choose, what questions to ask, and how to interpret the results.

From focus groups to opinion leader surveys to targeted or full-scale random-sample surveys, Smith & Stark have the experience to apply this technical discipline in the way that will produce a useful result. We then apply this insight to the development of strategy and message.     


Coalition Development
It is a rare event when an organization can achieve its public policy aims without allies. 

The rest of the time, knowing how to build and activate a coalition is critical to success.  Smith & Stark fit the coalition to the strategy.  We understand who would make good allies on a given issue and how to educate and engage them. 

The firm starts with a broad bipartisan network of contacts and knows how to build on this network to reach the important parties in any field.

Whether on a highly targeted scale or in a broad public campaign, Smith & Stark can produce the right result.


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