From: Karl Shrum, Strategic Strategies Inc.
To: RACPAC (Raccoons Are Cuddly/Political Action Committee)
RE: Crisis management
You’ve had a rough couple of weeks. But it doesn’t have to permanently damage your reputation and effectiveness. We are a full-service public affairs firm that can handle message creation, media, polling and crisis intervention. We are honored that you have placed your trust in us.
And, as we said in our response to the request for proposals, we are experienced, having recently conducted campaigns for CROW (Crows Right Or Wrong), The Benevolent Protective Order of Sea Lions and other animals going through bad public relations – the Huskies and the Cougars.
Let’s recap: First, a group of your members attacked a jogger in Fort Steilacoom Park. Then Metro Parks Tacoma had to hire off-duty cops to warn park visitors not to feed some of your members who have become a bit too obvious, if not aggressive, with their begging. The cops might start writing tickets at $532 a pop, and that’ll make even the most bleeding-heart raccoon feeder reconsider.
We know there are two sides to every story. On the one paw, your members were attacked by a dog. On the other paw, the response was a bit excessive, don’t you think? Besides, people like dogs more than they like raccoons. The cute little bandit mask only takes you so far when you’re crawling through pet doors and eating all the Friskies.
We’ve done some polling and the numbers aren’t pretty: Your approval rating is below that of Congress. Your likability is down with the Kardashians. Your re-elect numbers are just a point above Bashar Assad of Syria. We found strong support for the concept of “animal welfare,” but sadly for you that isn’t a new government entitlement program.
We get paid for telling difficult truths. The Rocky Raccoon days are over. You have a public relations disaster on your paws that you simply must respond to or those cops will stop writing tickets and start taking target practice.
Here’s the action plan.
1. Be the victim: We find a gullible TV reporter – I figure KOMO is our best bet – to tell the story about how it is the human’s fault. We’ll use the whole noble-mammal-has-habitat-invaded narrative. We call it: “Sprawl Made Rocky Attack.”
Just keep stressing that you prefer a diet with lots of fish, fruit, nuts and berries. That’ll go over big in Seattle. Your fondness for animal carcasses, garbage and bird eggs tanked in the focus groups, so keep that to yourself.
Don’t forget to rub your whiskers with your paws – people love that. But a few tears should flow when you describe how you want to return to your roots but need some time for rehab. In the meantime it’s OK for people to help out with some Fritos and anything from Taco Time.
2. Two words – Baby Raccoons: Even the humans who have become jaded about your adult members getting fat on leftover Spicy McBites still get all ooohy and aaaahy over the kids. Use that. Just tell them not to attack any joggers.
3. Image: There was a time when raccoons were beloved, cuddly even. Now, you’re overweight, you eat all the food, you leave a mess behind. When asked what came to mind when they heard the word “raccoon,” respondents said “my brother-in-law” followed closely by “my ex.” So maybe lose a few pounds, stop hissing all the time, pick up a check sometimes.
4. Community service: We tell the humans that if they let you hang around, you’ll do something about the crows.
5. You don’t talk much, but money does: The politicians are raising the specter of a raccoon invasion. We’re even starting to hear the dreaded R-Word. A few well-placed campaign contributions might make them a bit more sympathetic. Perhaps sponsor a fundraiser at one of your dens.
6. Public service announcements: How does this sound? “We’re your neighbors, not your pests,” or “Rabies Are Overrated.” We’ll work on it.
This won’t be easy – or cheap – but it is doable. I recommend we start immediately. Before the rent-a-cops get email@example.com