Project Description

PROPOSITION 6 WATER FUNDING BALLOT INITIATIVE SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN

By Ginny Bell

Background

Texas has long had one of the most comprehensive State Water Plans but lacked the necessary funding needed to implement it. Following a devastating drought in 2011, state legislators made funding this plan a top priority during the 83rd Legislative Session. In order to accomplish this goal without raising taxes, the legislature passed a measure to set up a revolving loan program funded by a one-time withdrawal from the Rainy Day Fund, the state’s savings account. However, putting this plan into action required voter approval during a constitutional amendment election. To help obtain this approval, one of the organizations spearheading the Proposition 6 campaign tapped our firm’s strategic communications arm to manage its social media campaign and grassroots outreach efforts.

Overcoming Challenges & Meeting Objectives

Voter Awareness and Mobilization

Historically, constitutional amendment elections have extremely low turnout, meaning raising awareness about the election and creating a sense of urgency among voters was critical to the campaign’s success. Overcoming these challenges was an essential component of our advertising plan. Our metrics showed images depicting the ongoing drought conditions were especially impactful, and tying those images to ‘get out the vote’ messages is one example of how we accomplished this goal.

Opposition from Conservative Organizations

Despite this broad based support, there were still several grassroots organizations with an active, well-organized base strongly opposed to Prop 6. It was crucial for us to employ a proactive, facts-based campaign strategy and to avoid being put on the defensive. By operating ‘above the fray’, we were able to control the messages and countering any negative comments with clear and consist information.

Reducing Ambiguity of SJR 1 Funding Sources

Even absent potentially misleading information from detractors of the ballot measure, educating the electorate on where this money would come from and how it will be used was no easy task. We accomplished this goal by building our social media platforms as ‘hubs of information’ filled with compelling and informative content, which built credibility for both the organization and our cause.

Securing Broad-Based Support

Armed with the understanding water security was – and is – an important issue affecting every constituent in Texas, we were able to focus our grassroots outreach efforts across a wide spectrum of different industries, business organizations, local and county governments, and special interest groups across the state. At the same time, there were also several other organizations actively engaged in campaigning for Prop 6’s passage. Using ally recruitment and coalition building strategies, we were able maximize our joint efforts while playing a powerful role in delivering a major win for the future of Texas.

Results

Prop 6 successfully passed by an overwhelming majority of the vote. Comparably, a similar ballot measure up for approval two years prior passed by the slimmest of margins. In addition to helping pass Proposition 6, we also were able to raise awareness for how important these types of infrastructure investments are to the state’s economy – a key component of our client’s long-term mission.