California was the first state to recognize that spending money on social marketing initiatives—addressing issues from teen pregnancy to AIDS—could reap real benefits, both societal and financial. Now other states are stepping up their commitment to health education programs, and around the country a handful of specialist public relations firms have developed an expertise in this specialized field. Chicago-based MSI Strategic Communications is among the leaders, offering a wide range of community, government and media outreach capabilities alongside an in-house creative department and a spokesperson training facility.
MSI has made a name for itself working for clients such as the Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco and the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, and in the past year has added a host of challenging yet rewarding assignments: working with the American Society of Echocardiography to educate consumers, physicians and government officials about the diagnostic value of echocardiography; helping the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition increase enrollment in federal Child Health Insurance Programs; and creating a half-hour documentary for the Illinois State Police to reach teens with an anti-drug message.
With its focus on social issues, MSI offers a unique work environment, one that attracts professionals who like the feeling that their work is making a difference. New additions in 2000 included Mark Goldman, a media relations specialist from Rotary International, and Jennifer Jaegers, a former legislative assistant in Kansas. The agency continued its controlled growth, up about 10 percent and ending the year with revenues of slightly more than $2 million.
In addition to fashioning full-service public relations campaigns, MSI has also introduced a “news center” service that allows subscribers an opportunity to draw on the firm’s media relations expertise in order to respond to a breaking news opportunity. It’s a quick-turnaround media relations solution for organizations—associations, in many cases—that don’t have their own in-house PR staff, and often miss media opportunities as a result.