The Michigan Chamber of Commerce board voted unanimously to oppose the “Voters Not Politicians” (VNP) ballot proposal, a highly politicized and drastic rewrite of Michigan’s Constitution, which would come to receive enough signatures to qualify for the fast-approaching November 2020 election. A national activist group led a campaign opposing the Chamber’s position. The group embarked on an extremely negative social media campaign targeting individual members of the Michigan Chamber’s Executive Committee in an effort to bully, threaten and intimidate the Michigan Chamber to withdraw a lawsuit designed to protect the state constitution.
Franco worked with the Chamber to retain legal, political, communication and security support to help manage and de-escalate the situation. The Franco team conducted 24/7 social media monitoring, developed and executed a PR and social media strategy and closely coordinated a strategy and response with the business community, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and local and federal cyber-crime units.
In contrast to the threatening national activism, the Chamber was determined to provide a mission-focused, fact-based and civil response and to denounce hateful rhetoric in public discourse. Franco helped assemble a coalition of 200+ business leaders, along with the Michigan Governor, Attorney General and other bi-partisan leaders in a campaign calling for civil discourse.
The crisis encouraged the Chamber to put new processes in place to combat future crises including:
- Hiring a Director of Communications and Social Media, with an emphasis in digital communications skillsets
- Continuing to gather insights from the U.S Chamber and coordinate on evolving best practices in advocacy communications, preparing for social media activism, etc.
- Continuing to train and support volunteer leaders to be prepared during times of crisis