he following Case Studies were culled from my 25 years work based in the Hawaiian Islands, "the most remote land mass in the world" where over 45 first languages are spoken. What a fantastic laboratory the Islands have been for the development & evolution of my communications model!
Because of all of the glossy travel industry PR about our "sun, surf and pristine beaches", most view Hawai`i from the outside as being a place where nothing very innovative ever takes place. This is patently untrue and I'll give you just one example. Every time you slide your credit or debit card through a machine, just remember this technology was invented in Honolulu. VeriFone was founded and incorporated in Hawai`i on April 14, 1981. Only after the original Hawai`i founders had sold the company was it moved to Santa Clara, California where it remains today.
The fact is, Hawaii's tropical climate is an ideal work environment and the casual lifestyle attracts many brilliant, innovative, creative people from around the world. And our remoteness gives us a proverbial "catbird seat"; a 5,000' view of the dramatic changes taking place around the globe and in Washington DC. One can sometimes be "too close to the forest...".
I'll be announcing my "retirement" sometime in the near future to have the time to complete my book and companion seminar about what I refer to here as the model. As simple as the model's techniques indeed are, applying them is not so easily explained. My book will hopefully impart some clues as to how I think about performing my work in this personally-rewarding, sometimes denigrated, and oft-misunderstood business of managing public opinion. If you're interested in learning more about my model, its techniques, and some of the many people and influences that led to its development, check that out here.
My work has encompassed a vast geographic expanse extending from Hawai`i to the Eastern Coast of the United States, and West across the International Dateline to Japan. Because of Hawaii's close cultural and business ties to Japan, I was indeed "covering" this part of the globe before the Fax machine, Internet & email and Cell phones. Perhaps difficult to imagine now, but when I first entered the field, the only technolgy availible to those of us outside the big corporations was the telephone, and if you were prosperous, you might have an enormous, very-expensive Zerox copy machine. No Fedex either!
The following is a work in progress as I add more background documents and comments to better illustrate how these events all occurred. As you might suspect, none just "happened" all by themselves. - Scott Foster, April, 2009.
Letter of Appreciation: The Pew Charitable Trusts
The Pew Charitable Trusts retained SF&A in March of 2006 to help advise local political and media strategy to advance the goal of establishing a National Marine Sanctuary in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. To everyone's great surprise, on June 15th, 2006, employing the US Antiquities Act, the President of the United States declared the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a National Monument, now officially the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. The name is based on an ancient Hawaiian legend related to the creation of the islands and "...serves as a reminder about the connection between man and his environment -- and our responsibility to take care of it." Scott Foster said, "We only helped push it over the top and the many individuals and organizations who have worked so long and hard during the past seven years are to be commended." Oversite management for the Monument is conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
SF&A has enjoyed a 15-year relationship with Hawaii's 1000 Friends (HTF). Scott notes, "Working with Hawaii's most-acclaimed environmental advocate, Donna Wong, has not only been a pleasure, but together we have time-and-again produced some spectacular results. Because HTF's important public policy issues are usually of an esoteric nature and not easily understood by or particularly-interesting to the general public, my challenge has been to craft the rhetoric and story line to make it interesting for public consumption and to encourage an immediate action by the reader. One particular success is worth study. It's particularly important to note the dates of these two documents which I consider a text-book example of delivering the right message to the right people at the right time. None of the traditional "PR" techniques of op-eds or letters to the editor were employed and the only media was the resulting "after-the-fact" news article." By then we had already "won."
The October 16, 2003, media release prepared for the Local 677 Musicians Union representing the musicians of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra "put a pretty face on an ugly situation" as one musician later noted. The musicians' sincere message of hope and unity was delivered after accepting a draconian 20% cut in wages and retirement benefits to help save "the oldest symphony orchestra West of the Missippi River." Our media release was picked up and broadcast to 90% of the world by the legendary Paul Harvey during his October 25, 2003 syndicated ABC radio news broadcast.
State Sets Aside $4 Million For Honolulu Symphony
After the musicians' 20% wage cut (above), Scott Foster volunteered to assist the 107-year old Honolulu Symphony Society in raising money by shepherding legislation through the Hawai`i State Legislature. The original plan of action was laid by Foster, famed local union activist 90-year old A.Q. McElrath, and the American Federation of Musicians, Local 677 President, Michael Largarticha. Their effort resulted in a landmark $4 Million matching grant for the Honolulu Symphony Foundation endowment trust fund, and a $150,000 State "Grant In Aid" -- later increased to $250K. Foster noted, "We were particularly pleased with the outcome of this team effort. There was not a single "no" vote during the many public hearings and House and Senate floor votes; despite a legislature previously-disenchanted by the Honolulu Symphony management."
December, 1999 - December 07, 2005
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) Letter of appreciation
SF&A was originally retained by the Forward Foundation in December of 1999 to "save" the Ahupua'a (the Hawaiian land division from mountain to ocean) of O'ahu's historic Waimea Valley from the rapacious East Coast developer, billionaire Christian Wolfer who had bought the property out of bankruptcy seeking a "quick turn" on his money. Quickly creating The Stewards of Waimea Valley, due to the international media stories generated by SF&A, within a matter of weeks the fledgling group had mushroomed into an international organization with considerable political clout and "convinced" the Honolulu City Council to condemn the 1,875-acre site as a "City Park." "This is the fastest I have ever seen the Honolulu City Council ever move on any issue," said former Honolulu City Council Member Rene Mansho. Scott Foster's grass-roots organizing model was later presented as "the model for community based tourism development" by the University of California, Chico during the 2001 International Conference on Tourism Development and Management hosted by the Government of China. Surprisingly, the Valley was again threatened in December of 2005, after a long series of court actions and delays. For the third time in as many years, SF&A rose to the occasion to rally support. The long saga culminated on December 07, 2005, "In a stunning example of people power..." when the public pressure SF&A had organized caused the Honolulu City Council -- in a 9-0 vote -- to reverse an earlier vote to subdivide and sell of the historic 1,875-acre site. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs now owns and manages the internationally-revered Ahupua'a of Waimea Valley for all time.
ADVOCATES FOR CONSUMER RIGHTS
1995 - Current
Ralph Nader Letter of Congratulations
Since founding the organization with Ralph Nader in 1995, SF&A has performed the communications and political strategy for Hawaii's Advocates For Consumer Rights (AFCR). Foster's organization first fought industry giant, State Farm Insurance Corporation into submission after a three-year political fight. State Farm had a national team of highly-paid lawyers and organizers on the ground in Honolulu and a $500,000 media budget. The tiny AFCR organization had $36,000 total. The win resulted in a complete revamp of Hawaii's car insurance law and has saved the consumers "...about $78 million..." a year ever since.
AFCR's next successful challenge was seeing Hawaii's unique "Fair Gas Price" law, "The "Gas Cap" passed into law in 2002. Taking effect on September 1, 2005, the law was the first in the nation to try and reign in the rapacious oil industry. The ensuing 5-year political battle was closely followed by seven other states who were considering similar regulatory legislation and the issue made international headlines. Because this was the first such challenge to the oil industry, BBC, CNN, NBC and CBS sent crews to cover the story. Sadly, the "Gas Cap" was taken offline during the 2006 Hawai`i State Legislative Session after hundreds-of-thousands of dollars flowed from the oil industry into numerous powerful incumbent legislator's campaign chests.
Scott Foster said, "The once-supportive Hawai`i State Legislature pusillanimously voted to suspend the Gas Cap and add "more transparency" to the industry reporting process. What a crock!" Later, Foster noted in a national Associated Press story, "While the jury is still out on this one, Hawaii's Gas Cap, renamed "Fair Price Indicator" will remain in place as a flashing red neon sign reminding Hawaii's consumers what the prices would have been under the Gas Cap. The Fair Price Indicator will haunt the elected officials and industry minions who sold Hawaii's consumers out -- again to The Oil Oligopoly."
AFCR has enjoyed a long series of smaller successes and continues to advocate against rapacious corporations who unfairly pick the pockets of Hawai`i consumers.
Voter Owned Hawai`i
June, 1999 - Present
After ten years, SF&A continues as a pro bono political & communications consultant to Voter Owned Hawai`i, formerly Hawai`i Clean Elections. Working to institute a full publically-funded political campaign finance system in Hawai`i, in 2008 VOE saw the first such bill passed in Hawai`i which will allow the County of Hawai`i to use the system for the 2010 elections, "a major political coup" and a great victory for the project's young advocates. Scott Foster noted, "We had known from the beginning that changing Hawaii's corrupt campaign finance system would take many years and we needed to bring on board and nurture young advocates to oneday take over. This is sometimes difficult for old leadership, but this mutual decision by three original advocates makes the case. Our young replacements easily understood our advanced technology and attracted their peers, while we were able to give them a solid grounding in the realities of politics and how to develop winning strategies. This was seemingly a winning combination."
INLAND BOATMENS' UNION STRIKE
June 30 - July 5, 2004
SF & A performed the communications and media strategy for the Inlandboatmen's Union (IBU) strike against the venerable Hawai'i Tug & Barge and Young Brothers ocean transportation companies. Hawaii's Pacific Business News described the event, "Result: a surgical strike in and out in four days."
Scott Foster & Associates provided the emergency pro bono communications services resulting in a last-minute groundswell of financial support and political pressure pouring in from around the world - assuring the timely completion, transport, and September 20, 2003, public dedication of the statue of Israel Kamakawiwo`ole. The bronze bust of the internationally-revered Hawaiian musician will forever perpetuate the rich legacy of "Brudda Iz." Eshewing Waikiki, the artist selected Kamakawiwo`ole's own neighborhood on O`ahu's historic Wai`anae Coast for the statues' location believing, "The statue will hopefully give the children living in this poor area of Oahu the hope that they too can reach the stars.
November, 1999 - May, 2004
The successful conclusion on July 17, 2003, of an 11-week nurses' strike at Oahu's rural Wahiawa General Hospital also marked the end of the fourth successful nurses' strike since January 19, 2003, for which SF&A had performed strategic communications, planning and implementation. The actions were covered by "one in seven" American newspapers, reported on CNN, in Mexico and Canada, and was featured on two broadcasts by the internationally-syndicated American radio commentator, Paul Harvey. Sue Scheider, JD, (then) Executive Director, Hawai'i Nurses' Union said, "There was not a single day during that three-month period when we did not have media coverage - in fact, we believe our strikes at three hospitals received just as much coverage (and not just local coverage) as any strike in the world in the last decade."
Originally contacted by the Office of the Governor of Hawai`i in January 2002, to advance the issue of Death With Dignity at the Hawai`i State Legislature, the organizing, free-media and public-opinion campaigns employed by SF&A indeed caused the issue to become "the hot button issue of the session" and Death With Dignity came within 3 votes of becoming state law. Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano noted, "This issue has never moved this far, this fast in any state legislature."
1998 - 2000
SF&A was retained by The Drug Policy Forum of Hawai'i to devise and implement the organizational and communications strategies needed to successfully pass the unique and very-controversial legislation now allowing the medical use of marijuana in Hawai'i - the second state in the nation to pass such a law and the first state to do so through a state legislature. The DPFH website as originally designed and maintained by SF&A (2002) - with its then-cutting-edge video-streaming capabilities - was touted as the model for state drug-reform organizations by national drug-policy reform organizations.
Retained by the Hawai'i Coalition For Health to save the University of Hawaii's John A. Burns Schools of Medicine and Public Health from the budget ax during a severe economic downturn, the Medical School closure was prevented and an entire new multimillion-dollar state medical complex was later funded. Scott Foster said, "One never knows what the final results might be. We were only on this case for a few weeks with many positive and unexpected outcomes"
July 1, 1999 - September 30, 1999
The 1998 Hawai'i Gubernatorial Campaign marked the third time since 1994 for which the services of SF&A had been contracted by Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano. SF&A Developed and implemented grass-roots & free-media public information and opinion strategies for the successful reelection of the Governor.
September 1, 1998 - November 3, 1998
March 1, 1997 - May 27, 1998
At the personal request of the Governor of Hawai'i, Scott Foster was retained for 18 months to work directly with the Governor's Senior Staff and his appointed Directors in identifying and realizing specific high-profile projects deemed vital to the Governor's reelection.
Designed, produced, coordinated and managed the logistics to mount The Governor's Town-Hall Meetings, a six-month series of high-profile live and televised public-information forums conducted throughout the state with the Governor, Lt. Governor, their Chiefs of Staff, all Department Directors and Senior Policy Advisors in attendance.
Initiated, secured outside funding, and oversaw installation of a state-of-the-art media production & editing facility within the Governor's Office, and obtained a dedicated Governor's television channel within the Capitol complex - also connected to existing inter-island and international fiber-optic distribution systems.
Conceived, designed, and implemented The Governor's Report, a weekly television digest of the Governor's televised press conferences.
Designed, drafted, and produced The Governor's Community Report. The 40+ geographically targeted monthly public-information publications were hand carried and distributed by an organized pool of senior administration officials through Oahu's Neighborhood Board system and the Governor's neighbor island offices. Some 40,000 reports and related attachments were ultimately produced and distributed.
Conducted the public-education campaign articulating the Governor's reasoning behind the State acquisition during an economic downturn of the 300 acres now comprising Hawaii's Ka Iwi State Park. Then owned by Kamehameha Schools-Bishop Estate, this preservation effort prevents further development on Oahu's pristine Ka Iwi Coast.
Advance and ground communications for The Clinton Whitehouse during the President's visit to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of VJ Day in Hawai'i; 1994 Benjamin J. Cayetano successful Campaign for Governor - Client Comments; consultant since 1986 to successful candidates for the Hawai'i State House & Senate, and U.S. Congressional campaigns in Hawai'i; marketing projects for Hong Kong investor, Mr. Edward Eu; personal projects for Mr. Tom Gentry, Gentry Properties; marketing collatoral for King Travel and the Pleasant Hawaiian Holiday corporations - Client Comments public-opinion strategy for T. J. Mahoney and Company Re: Matlock House transitional prison housing facility.
The Associates have donated public-relations, marketing services or produced fund-raising events for:
- Common Cause Hawai'i
- The Hawaii Consortium For The Arts
- The American Association of Retired Persons, Hawai'i Chapter - Client Comments
- The Sierra Club
- The Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame & Museum
- North Shore Country Market
- The Life Foundation
- The Names Project
- Publication of the 100th Anniversary edition of the Queen Liliuokalani translation of the Kumulipo
- The Kokua Council of Hawai`i
- The Windward Spousal Abuse Shelter project for the Hawai'i Realtor's Association
- The Hawai'i Association of Music Societies
- North Shore Surf & Cultural Museum
- Hadassah for the video production of "From Hawai'i To The Holocaust"
- "Simple Courage" video production of the Father Damien story
- Establishment of the annual Minority Veteran Recognition event during Pearl Harbor Day
- PacifiCare Hospice
- The Governor's Committee on AIDS: SF&A performed the communications and free media strategies which assisted passage of Hawaii's model needle exchange program - currently the only fully state funded, state-wide syringe exchange program in the country. Hawaii's early implementation (1990) of syringe exchange helped prevent a rapid outbreak of HIV infection among drug injectors, their sexual partners and families. 18 percent of reported AIDS cases in Hawai'i during 1997 were related to drug injection - while the rest of the U.S. reported an overall 33 percent.