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So far ewagner has created 8 entries.

Aspen Institute Financial Security Program

The Aspen Institute Financial Security Program needed strong messaging and new communications strategies to better demonstrate its expanding reach and role to policymakers, industry stakeholders, media, funders and others.

Among the challenges they asked Ward Circle to meet: a looming deadline to change to a new organizational website which demanded a quick yet thoughtful new message strategy and associated copy, tone and imagery to more effectively portray and bolster the impact of the program’s critical work.


We performed an intensive landscape analysis and asset audit and conducted interviews with program leaders and Institute-wide brand managers to establish both internal expectations and requirements and external competitive and media realities. We presented the client with a report summarizing our findings and preliminary options and then facilitated a half-day session with program leaders and staff for feedback and input to guide our final recommendations.


We created a new message platform to connect the Program’s face with real day-to-day financial security issues facing Americans. We developed brand and messaging guidelines and language that would help program staff and communicators veer away from overly wonky and dry verbiage especially when addressing policymakers, the public and current or potential program backers. And we shared general and specific guidance on an array of strategies and tactics. including


We worked in parallel with staff during the initial execution phase, implementing changes to the website and social media platforms and creating and editing new message tools including thought leadership blogs, newsletters, fact sheets, earned and social media outreach templates and providing ideas for conference swag.

We conducted informal leadership message training and then transitioned to an advisory role for the second phase of execution to assist internal communications staff continue further implementation.


Our work helped the Program secure funding partnerships with two major foundations, drove increased interest in the organization’s work, promoted local, state and national policymaker awareness and bolstered media coverage and stronger social media traffic.

Campaign to Engage Americans to Build a Stronger Civic Culture

Ward Circle Strategies helped Common Ground Solutions grow from a civic startup to become a respected player in the democracy community, working to increase civic engagement, improve the quality of political discourse, highlight real-world stories of people working together across partisan lines, and forge common-sense solutions to America’s biggest challenges.


CGS retained Ward Circle Strategies to create a communications campaign, experiment with civic engagement models, and begin scaling up its outreach to state and national media and lawmakers.


» Landscape Analysis: Reviewed public opinion research, democracy sector activities, and media coverage to determine what gaps CG could fill in alignment with its mission.

» Network-Building:  Provided introductions, research and staff support to leading organizations in the democracy sector.

» Brokering Partnerships:  Forged a CGS alliance with Voice of the People to to amplify research showing how Americans agree on many contentious issues. Created events with local hometown news organizations.

» Innovative Event Models:  “Citizen Panels”  brought together Members of Congress and local media with citizens and generated media coverage for the existence of common crown across party lines.

» Built Media Profile:  Developed materials, conducted press outreach, and helped place stories and op-eds in multiple target markets.

» Built Congressional Profile:  Built CGS Congressional profile through introductions, staffing and organizing events showcasing CGS with members of Congress.


 » Citizen panels attracted members of Congress, constituents and local media coverage in several states.

 » CGS successfully built its profile within the democracy community as a promising newcomer with a model-breaking theory of change.

Defense Health Agency

The Department of Defense operates one of the largest health systems in the world — serving almost 10 million Americans, to include uniformed service members, their families and retirees in the US and overseas. It comprises hundreds of military hospitals and clinics, a health insurance plan, public health services, and a significant medical research budget. The Defense Health Agency (DHA)  has relied on Ward Circle Strategies for over a decade to help shape communications, support policymaking, and deliver sophisticated healthcare analytics in order to develop and execute the military leaders’ vision for military medicine.


Our team has served in embedded capacities as senior consultants and day-to-day implementers, delivering:

  • Thousands of pieces of messaging and outreach content including strategic communications plans, digital and social media, and crisis communications support
  • Thought leadership and policy messages via senior leaders’ speeches, testimony, national and international conference presentations, op-eds, and press statements,
  • Internal communications messaging to over 150,000 medical personnel with key updates and progress on the Defense Health Agency’s efforts – including those to address COVID-19. 


  • Greater awareness about the work of the DHA within the military community, partnerships with civilian medical institutions, and among federal policymakers
  • Improved  understanding  of key combat care, behavioral  health, and public health challenges, informing action steps that both organizations and individuals can take
  • Ongoing media coverage and expanded relationships with national journalists
  • Invitations for DHA leaders to share insights and information at thought leadership talks at global and national events

Emergency Campaign to Protect Aging Adults from COVID-19

LeadingAge, which represents more than 5,000 nonprofit aging-service organizations, retained WCS to rapidly scale up its campaign to press the federal government to improve its response to the COVID crisis. WCS helped shift the nursing home narrative away from blaming providers to showcasing their need for PPE, tests and other resources to keep residents and care workers safe. We pointed out the need to reverse decades of underinvestment in aging services.


LeadingAge wanted to rapidly develop a COVID crisis communications strategy, reposition the organization and its 38 states as mission-driven nonprofit thought leaders, build a rapid response capacity as the crisis worsened, and develop campaigns to spotlight the role LeadingAge and service providers have played in this pandemic–and their need for more resources to support older Americans. 


» Shifting the Message: Created a message framework to shift the narrative to the urgent needs of vulnerable aging adults. 

» Organizational Positioning: Injected the association into multiple national stories. 

» Rapid Response: Built outreach materials for earned and social media to insert LeadingAge into breaking COVID-19 stories as a trusted and compelling voice. 

» Network Mobilization: Helped organize new methods of communications coordination and outreach with LeadingAge’s state members so they could serve as messengers nationally and in their own markets. 

» Digital Campaign: Developed a Mother’s Day social media campaign to thank caregivers for caring for millions of vulnerable mothers and grandmothers. 


» Ongoing media coverage in most major stories with client quotes on the inadequacies of new policies announced by the White House in 2020. 

» Recognition of client’s new positioning in an editorial in a leading trade publication–dubbing LeadingAge “The Mouse that Roared” for its outspoken but professional advocacy. 


An innovative initiative born of the COVID crisis, used the power of celebrity to reach Latinos with critical messages during this challenging time Our team helped Listos California conceive of and launch InformaGente—an online conversation series —in partnership with the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA) and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). The program brought in familiar voices in both Spanish and English to reach communities across California with life saving information about COVID-19 with WCS-produced shareable video content distributed by celebrities, state and local agencies and our partner orgs across social media.


The goal of InformaGente is to connect the Latino community with critical information on COVID-19 and how to prepare for other emergencies like earthquakes and wildfire. 


  • We leveraged the pro bono talent of popular Latino and Latina entertainers from film, television and music and the subject matter expertise of state leaders to provide critical information. 
  • We produced hort web episodes via Zoom enabling celebrity hosts to get answers to questions on the minds of the Latino community (which suffered disproportionately from the COVID-19 virus) and highlighted the importance of being prepared for disasters.
  • We helped created partnerships with two leading national Latino organizations to identify key topics, secure the talent and distribute information


  • The InformaGente series had over 2 million views, the majority of which were from Latino audiences.
  • Engaging Hollywood celebrities for InformaGente transcended a glitzy marketing campaign. It put beloved performers on the vast stage that is California and invited an eager audience to join them in creating an inclusively safer state for all.

Listos California – Content and Curriculum

Far too often, the people and communities hardest hit by natural disasters are those least equipped to survive them. In our work for the state of California’s emergency preparedness campaign “Listos California,” we helped highly vulnerable populations get ready for wildfires, earthquakes and floods, and addressed the urgent public health crisis of COVID, as the pandemic started and raged on through 2020 and 2021.

To help, we worked closely with community-based organizations who received grants to work with targeted populations, including people of color, people with disabilities, agricultural workers, rural communities, and older Californians.

We developed an informal advisory group from distinct populations to guide our work.

We worked from public opinion research to create foundational messages, a look and feel for the campaign and an array of curricula tools, community-based toolkits and more, including:

  • 1-hour and 15 minute long presentations
  • A 16-panel Disaster Readiness Guide that was distributed statewide in large quantities
  • A mental health guide – called First Aid Kit for the Mind
  • A 7-day text-based course in x-number of languages
  • A guide for unhoused Californians on how to prepare for disaster (based on survey-research with homeless people throughout the state)
  • County resource guides

We also worked with state and county officials to create customized Disaster Directories for all 58 counties in the state in both English and Spanish. Each directory provides: a brief profile of the county’s disaster risks; relevant vulnerabilities of its residents; state and local alert resources; resources for people who are medically dependent on electricity; as well as state and county resources on COVID-19.


Aiming to bridge the gap between people in harm’s way and alerts and information that can save lives, we created customized, research-based curriculum, easily accessible from the online resource directory we also built in addition to print, and other, formats.


  • Our team worked closely with CalOES staff as well as county officials, community based organizations, and other local leaders to ensure the content of all curriculum matched the unique needs and priorities of each county and each targeted community.
  • Working with the same partners, we helped select various distribution methods to meet the state’s residents where they are. These included grocery store campaigns to distribute literature, text message campaigns, 1-1 phone calls, billboards, transit stop signs, wrapped trailers, social media platforms, and more.


  • Prior to this campaign, the state of California had never worked so closely with each county, or with targeted communities, to produce such customized products. Though the campaign has been paused, the materials are still in use by stakeholders statewide.

Save EPA

EDF retained WCS to fight back against a tidal wave of political and special interest pressure to gut and immobilize EPA, led by President Trump and polluters seeking to roll back the clock on environmental protections in America. 


EDF wanted to convince lawmakers to reject draconian cuts to the EPA’s budget, educate voters in target states in the runup to the successful 2018 election cycle, force out EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, and put a spotlight on the agency’s leadership. 


Content creation

» Developed a new set of thought leadership and newsmaking content via products like:

  • “State of Risk” reports for 10 targeted states released at individual news conferences
  • Our team researched, wrote and designed each report in conjunction with state experts

» Wrote press releases, fact sheets, pitch guidance documents, ed board and reporter memos, memos to weekend show producers, social media and blog entries, and letters to the editor. 

» Prepared creative products and projects to win attention, like “Nontrivial Pruitt” cards and social media posts like a fake Craigslist ad to spotlight ethical problems. 

» Created and helped launch weekly In Case You Missed It emails to journalists which helped spawn interest in new story coverage

Coverage and placement 

» Generated media coverage and placed op-eds in numerous national and state publications. 

» Worked with the Center for Climate Security to prepare and place op-eds targeting readers in EDF target markets in Florida and key Inside the Beltway audiences. 

» Monitored Hill testimony and put our rapid response reaction 

Support for State and Grassroots Partners 

» Worked closely with EDF partners and allies in more than a dozen states to help them with communications strategy and organizing, product development and media outreach. 


» Congress rejected the Trump Administration’s cuts to the EPA budget. 

» EPA administrator Scott Pruitt resigned in disgrace. 

» Coverage of problems of EPA’s leadership increased. 

» Voters in EDF’s 2018 target states helped deliver a more pro-environment Congress.

Social Bridging Project

Ward Circle Strategies helped conceive of, and quickly stand up, a first-in-the-nation initiative, the “Social Bridging Project,”  to reach vulnerable people one-on-one by phone and connect them with life-changing and lifesaving government and nonprofit resources throughout the state of California during COVID.

COVID-19 wellness calls and texts connected low-income older adults with food, mental health and other resources, and break through social isolation. Disaster readiness calls and texts helped Californians least likely to be prepared for natural disasters to get emergency alerts and plan safe evacuations. Equally important, the project’s callers, known as Bridgers, provided a caring touch, chatting with the people on the other end of the lines, asking about their interests, their emotional well-being, their lives.

These engagements were accomplished remotely in English, Spanish, and Tagalog by volunteers and staff across the state and nation, during the coronavirus pandemic and California’s catastrophic wildfire seasons.

In the early days of the pandemic, the project shared data on common vaccine concerns and misinformation that residents shared in these conversations with government stakeholders and provided data on crucial needs and service gaps throughout.


COVID-19 posed a unique challenge for targeted community outreach to deliver life-saving resources across the state and with audiences that had been missed by other methods. Working with the State of California, we needed to develop new outreach methods to make sure older Californians, farmworkers, isolated rural residents, and other vulnerable people knew that “they were not alone” and were helped with warm handoff connections to resources like food banks, friendship lines, vaccine and testing clinics, and an array of other services.


  • We used phone banking technology and practices adopted from voter engagement campaigns. We developed the program in two months and scaled it in 27 counties within 18 months.
  • We created a new mini-grant program to bring an array of nonprofit organizations and AmeriCorps members to the team – harnessing the in-language and cultural competency of diverse teams of callers to make effective outbound calls
  • We created customized digital guides cataloging the available resources in each county in partnership with county emergency managers and social service leaders.
  • We used census, state, and nonprofit data to build outreach lists to reach highly targeted communities.  
  • We developed a comprehensive training, onboarding, and partner support infrastructure to make each call count, including:
    • Live and video training for more than 700 callers
    • Real time technical support and community management


  • Statewide outreach:
    • We had nearly 170,000 conversations with Californians in 27 counties.
    • We referred nearly 20,000 households to resources for food, healthcare, housing, mental health services, and utility bill relief.
    • We helped nearly 10,000 households to sign up for alerts, earthquake warnings and power shut-off warnings.
  • Recruited, trained and scheduled:
    • 745 callers from across the state and nation
  • Secured partnerships with 30+ partner organizations
  • Enabled high engagement rates among targeted communities with strategic outreach, including the following:
    • African Americans: 46%
    • Latinos: 51%
    • Filipino: 68%