Despite a growing, bipartisan movement to reform the criminal justice system across the country, the ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice recognized the need for action in key states with some of the highest incarceration rates, where reform efforts had yet to take hold. One of those states, Oklahoma, has the second highest incarceration rate in the country, and the highest rate for women. Although elected officials had passed a series of reform measures in the past, reforms were ultimately never implemented, leaving Oklahoma’s incarceration rate among the highest in the world, and ripe for reform.
Working closely with ACLU’s Oklahoma affiliate, as well as a number of prominent, bipartisan organizations and advocates across Oklahoma, Precision helped to conceptualize, launch, and manage a multi-million dollar ballot initiative campaign to reduce Oklahoma’s prison population and invest taxpayer resources in rehabilitation and treatment programs to address the root causes of crime.
Beginning our work with little more than state polling and research, the Precision team led the effort to build a soup-to-nuts campaign, from developing the campaign’s branding and messaging, its strategic communications plan, and all public-facing materials (including building its website and social platforms), to coordinating and managing the campaign’s day-to-day activities, planning and organizing major press events, and overseeing the activation and leveraging of important validators and influencers to win support among Oklahoma’s voters for the ballot initiative.
Out of the gate, the campaign’s February launch saw widespread and positive coverage, including two editorials in support of the ballot initiative from the state’s two biggest newspapers (The Oklahoman and Tulsa World). Precision oversaw and managed a team of campaign staff and consultants to implement a larger communications strategy, using the launch to elevate and reignite a public narrative on the need for reform, and keeping that narrative sustained over the following months as the campaign hit different benchmarks. That positive attention translated online, as well—in the first few days, Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform saw substantial growth in both its social media presences and email list size.
To continue that momentum, Precision developed activation plans for key influencers and notables, strategically and creatively promoting their support for the campaign in ways that would resonate with the most impact. Working with respected business voices, faith leaders, law enforcement, political influencers, and other notables, Precision drafted nearly a dozen op-eds on their behalf, successfully placing them in strategic and targeted outlets where their influence would resonate most. To support these efforts, Precision also worked with Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform and the ACLU on a comprehensive branding and website development process—creating a recognizable logo, managing the website build, and creating a digital content strategy that mirrored the efforts on-the-ground.
Closely monitoring on-the-ground developments and moments, the Precision team continued updating and refining the campaign’s messaging to recognize an evolving discussion and political landscape, injecting the messaging into new materials and campaign collaterals, and regularly briefing campaign supporters ahead of important moments through a dynamic email list and social media presences.
Precision also developed the plans and strategies for major news moments for the campaign beyond the launch, including two rally events in Oklahoma City and Tulsa to kick off the petition signature collection phase of the campaign, as well as an event in Oklahoma City to deliver petition signatures to the Secretary of State, to qualify for the November ballot. From developing the strategies, plans, and all event materials for these events, to managing the coordination of their execution (which featured the participation of large groups of key supporters and influencers) as well as the execution of the proactive communications strategy, Precision’s work has resulted in driving a public narrative in Oklahoma on the need for criminal justice reform, targeted at key constituencies and voters whose support will be crucial at the ballot box this November.
The Bottom Line:
Through our proactive, hands-on approach—touching and shaping every element great and small—Precision’s work has resulted in driving a public narrative in Oklahoma on the need for a smarter approach to public safety, which has helped to generate more than 220,000 petition signatures to qualify the initiative for the November ballot—well above the 65,000 signatures required.
Our efforts in working closely with key influencers and validators have attracted the support of other prominent and respected Oklahoma notables, continuing to grow the coalition of support that will be crucial for victory come November. Our efforts have resulted in generating a batch of supportive editorials from the state’s most influential media outlets, with Tulsa World calling the ballot initiative a “smart approach to the state’s prison problems” and The Oklahoman calling the ballot initiative a “worthwhile” effort.
Precision’s efforts launching the initiative, and its creative and strategic thinking on how to continue generating momentum and support among targeted groups has firmly branded Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, and its ballot initiative, as major players in Oklahoma’s 2016 election cycle, and one that enjoys widespread and diverse support from across the political spectrum and from every corner of the state.