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  • Writer's pictureKeegan Gibson

Amplifying a client's expertise to the public and to public officials

Forum participants, pictured from left: Will Parker; Dave Fawcett; County Treasurer John Weinstein; Ceisler Media clients An Lewis and Amanda Settlemaier; sole Republican candidate Joe Rockey; State Rep. Sara Innamorato; and City Controller Michael Lamb.

Ceisler Media client Tri-COG Land Bank hosted its first-ever candidate forum. Pictured from left: Will Parker; Dave Fawcett; County Treasurer John Weinstein; Ceisler Media clients An Lewis and Amanda Settelmaier; Joe Rockey; State Rep. Sara Innamorato; and City Controller Michael Lamb.

Amplifying a client's expertise to make sure it reaches the right audience is part of the job. It’s especially important when their mission depends on a strong partnership with public officials. Achieving this sometimes drives us to think outside the box and take on initiatives that our clients have never done before.

For the Tri-COG Land Bank, we helped them host their first-ever candidate forum.

The highest-profile primary election in western Pennsylvania this year is for Allegheny County Executive (ACE). It’s a powerful position that directs county administration and impacts priorities for the 130 municipalities here, including the city of Pittsburgh.

There is no clear front-runner in a crowded Democratic field that includes former city school board member Theresa Colaizzi, attorney Dave Fawcett, State Rep. Sara Innamorato, City Controller Michael Lamb, businessman Will Parker and County Treasurer John Weinstein. Businessman Joe Rockey is the sole Republican candidate.

A strong partnership with the County is crucial for our client, the Tri-COG Land Bank, and their constituent Councils of Government — Steel Rivers COG and Turtle Creek Valley COG — whose comprehensive agenda includes everything from cleaning storm drains to recovering blighted, abandoned properties.

The communities they serve in the Mon Valley and the eastern suburbs tend to have high legacy costs and low per capita income.

But the hottest fires forge the strongest steel. Hardship has galvanized them to be lean, capable, resourceful and committed. Their organizations have built an enduring partnership to help our region with complex issues.

Leveraging community relations to launch new initiatives

To leverage our clients’ community relationships, Ceisler Media proposed they host their first-ever candidate forum. It was a chance to bring the candidates to the Mon Valley and establish our clients as experts in some of the toughest challenges facing the County.

This past January, Ceisler’s Pittsburgh team started to help organize the forum from the ground up. Our work before the forum included:

Our team supported the forum on-site, including timekeeping with timers and bells. We also pitched media to spread the word.

Pictured clockwise from top left: Tri-COG Land Bank held its first-ever candidate forum; Ceisler Media Director Keegan Gibson watches from afar; Ceisler Media Associates Joey Georgy (left) and Jeff Alexander timekeeping; Alexander, Gibson and Georgy pose for a photo.

Coverage for our client

The forum was a huge success. Every major candidate attended, and it was one of the biggest forums of the entire primary in terms of attendance. For a forum about municipal policy and blight, we earned outsized media coverage from regional press and local media, totaling more than 20 individual pieces.

Here are a few highlights:

Most importantly, this was a chance for the candidates to address issues that had previously been low-profile in the race – but are critically important for our clients’ communities.

It was a chance for the Land Bank and the COGs to shine to their members, and it affirmed our clients’ leading role in an important part of the County, setting them up for a strong relationship when the new ACE takes office in January.


A black and white headshot of Ceisler Media Director Keegan Gibson.

Keegan Gibson is a director in Ceisler Media's Pittsburgh office.


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