Thomas Graham
Thomas Graham

One job of the public relations practitioner is to find ways to best tell the truth—often a truth well told for a client that has forgotten to report and celebrate the human stories behind its progress and success. We’re all humans and connected through our stories, after all.

Oftentimes, the professional publicist turns out to also be the right choice to lead an entire disparate community of influencers to come together and move society forward.

Here in Texas, the first major assignment of that sort we undertook at Crosswind was to successfully organize and promote a 2012 effort to win a $286 million federal grant for Texas A&M and the biotech industry surrounding the College Station campus. That victory was the largest federal healthcare grant in the state’s history and acted as a platform event for the thriving multi-billion-dollar biotech center that now exists in College Station ten years later.

In 2015, Crosswind organized the Flood Aid TX concert, which mobilized hundreds of small businesses and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for desperate flood victims in our state, even elevating international awareness of the Texas tragedy.

This article is featured in O'Dwyer's Oct. '22 Healthcare & Medical PR Magazine
(view PDF version)

This year, we’re helping to organize and support a new initiative of the Texas Advocacy Project to form a broad state-wide coalition to block and end the trafficking of children and adults into and across Texas. I serve on the board of TAP, a remarkably effective force already in ending dating and domestic violence in our state. The attorneys and social workers who provide free services to victims have seen first-hand the horrors and devastating impact of human trafficking which is often the background to brutal acts, mostly against women. A social worker and an attorney walk alongside the victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and now human trafficking to guide them on their journey from victim to survivor to empowerment and freedom.

The new Texas-wide coalition seeks to ignite a common effort across the state to root out and bring to justice those who are secretly profiting from what’s essentially the transport and sale of women and children for sex, a shadowy world that also includes a remarkable number of commercial operations that depend on undocumented workers to advance their financial goals.

Usually, a PR agency’s client is a single entity with a clear mission, and our job is to find ways to authenticate that mission, often hidden in the client’s overlooked history, and then broadcast those goals and credentials to key publics and influentials.

In the case of a coalition formation, we must often help a disparate group of agencies and activists define its common mission, then sell each entity on the declaration of intent, and finally take that commitment to media to market enduring and substantial social change.

Sometimes it’s a bit like herding headstrong cats, but we’ve found at Crosswind that the diplomatic skills that go into organizing a public interest coalition work well in forming teams to achieve our agency’s more conventional funded assignments.

We recently formed and led a rainbow cooperative of Texas PR and advertising agencies that won a significant State of Texas contract to communicate critical health information for young women who live in reduced circumstances. The winning cooperative we organized represents the complete rainbow of ethnic communities in Texas and has led to our own successful internal effort to recruit and further diversify Crosswind’s own team of agency professionals.


Thomas Graham is President, CEO and Founder of Crosswind Media & Public Relations in Austin, Texas.