Andrew RicciAndrew Ricci

Since the Export Import Bank (Ex-Im)’s federal authorization expired on July 1, conservatives have cheered it, decrying Ex-Im as a liberal tool for crony capitalism. Businesses have all but begged Congress to take responsible action and renew the Bank, lest the jobs that rely on their loan guarantees vanish. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like the most stimulating topic but, for PR pros and the public at large, it’s one that we need to pay attention to for several reasons.

Simply put, this is a debate that will impact many companies in the United States and the agencies they employ to develop their communications and public affairs activities.

We now live in a global economy where to remain competitive, businesses need government-backed lines of credit and loan guarantees.

The Export-Import Bank provides these sources of credit. Without them, American businesses, American jobs, and American competitiveness go out the window.

Consumers today tend to be so captivated by social media that it’s easy to ignore issues such as the Export-Import Bank.

After all, it is a complicated and confusing issue that is part of an equally complicated and confusing federal bureaucracy. But this type of “unsexy” subject has major ramifications for many of our clients in one way or another.

How can PR Pros stay on top of stories like the Ex-Im debate and use it as a tool to expand or develop client work? Here are three ways:

• Pay attention to issues outside of your current vision. Take the blinders off. Think about how your clients might be impacted by issues or in ways outside of your current scope of work. Are there opportunities for your client to be involved in the debate?

• Think outside your current skill set and practice areas. Are there ways to integrate different areas of PR like digital or advertising? Are there opportunities for lobbying? Legal communications? LEVICK offers all of these capabilities in an integrated approach, so we are charged with identifying opportunities to create comprehensive campaigns with a variety of elements.

•Tell the story in terms of the human element. It’s good to highlight that businesses backed by Ex-Im are providing jobs to manufacturing communities across the United States, but the human element has thus far been absent from supporters’ media strategies. They should be clear about what the jobs mean for the individuals and families who will be affected. The jobs mean college savings. They mean car payments. They mean food, mortgages, and a solid pathway to the middle class.

* * * 

Andrew Ricci is a VP at LEVICK. He can be reached at ARicci@levick.com