Our strategy was straightforward: use fact-based arguments and real-life stories to build public support and demonstrate to lawmakers, journalists and online activists that 2017 was the year for Louisiana to pass comprehensive criminal justice reform. In order to pressure a Republican-led state legislature and Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards, we developed a robust coalition of supporters, executed an aggressive earned media campaign, hosted educational and community events and oversaw a direct lobbying program.
Over five months, we secured more than 120 earned media hits across the state’s most popular newspapers including The Advocate, Shreveport Times, New Orleans Advocate and American Press. To create an online echo-chamber, we managed the social properties of Smart on Crime Louisiana – a criminal justice advocacy group – in order to implement a sustained promotional campaign garnering more than one million Facebook impressions and 80,000 Twitter impressions. Further, we worked with the Louisiana Family Forum to create two web videos discussing faith-based arguments for reform since 90 percent of Louisiana voters identify as Christians. More than 5,000 Louisianans viewed the videos and five lawmakers said that they would support the reform package after hearing the Forum’s arguments.