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Mac Strategies Group

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The presence of a handful of extremely capable specialist firms as well as almost all the national full-service agencies makes Illinois arguably the third largest public affairs market (after Washington, D.C. and California) in the United States, but that didn’t deter political and media strategist Ryan McLaughlin from launching a new competitor into the space in April of 2008. McLaughlin, who had served as vice president at Zapwater and helped to build its corporate and public affairs practice into one of the region’s largest and who earlier served as campaign manager and media spokesman for Peter Roskam’s dramatic election to Congress, believed there was room in the market for a dynamic, energetic young firm that could deliver high-profile media relations and special events that could drive clients’ policy agendas.

 

His confidence appears to have been well-founded. In its first year of operations, Mac Strategies Group has tripled the size of its client roster and picked up several high-profile assignments. Perhaps most notably, it was retained by TRAC (The Regional Answer to Canadian National), a coalition of more than 30 communities opposed to the purchase of Illinois’ Elgin Joliet & Eastern Rail Line by CN, which would cause a dramatic increase in rail traffic throughout the suburban area surrounding the City of Chicago. In the five months since it was hired, MSG has helped to generate nearly 700 articles through the region and provided counsel on matters related to legislative strategy, causing the federal agency overseeing the transaction to indicate that the public response to the transaction had generated an “unprecedented” amount of attention.

 

Other high-profile assignments include work on the Illinois Policy Institute’s 2008 Illinois Piglet Book, elevating a low-profile organization into one of the top public policy newsmakers in the region; developing a series of international marketing pieces in several languages for the Woodfield Chicago Northwest Convention Bureau to revitalize its international marketing efforts; and conducting media tours to promote a Dr. Seuss for President Art Exhibit that featured the political art of Dr. Seuss. Additional clients include the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, a national coalition of 120 specialty crop producers; Central States Trucking; the United Fresh Produce Association; P&C Art Gallery; and Quality Float Works, a manufacturer of hollow float metal balls used to level liquid controls in gas, oil and plumbing applications. Says Sandra Westlund-Deenihan, the latter company’s president and design engineer: “It’s not every day a suburban woman manufacturer finds herself on the ABC nightly news with Charlie Gibson. I’ve worked in the manufacturing industry my entire life, but it wasn’t until I began my relationship with Ryan McLaughlin and Mac Strategies Group that I achieved results in elevating my profile with my peers locally, nationally and internationally. I am a woman business executive and a leader in my industry; Ryan McLaughlin gave me a voice.”

 

McLaughlin is joined at the helm of the company by Cally Eckles, principal, who brings more than a decade of government affairs experience having worked for a national healthcare trade association and two senior Members of Congress. Together, they have experience in managing diverse issue-oriented campaigns on issues including: agriculture, the budget and the economy, education, energy, healthcare, corporate legal affairs, manufacturing, technology and transportation.

 

From its base in Chicago, the firm had already worked with clients in targeted areas throughout Illinois, Minnesota, California, Colorado,

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