HarrisonRand Know-How: 3 Trends to Watch in Nonprofit Marketing

by Jason Rand, HarrisonRand

There are more than 2,500 nonprofit organizations in Hudson County doing amazing work every day to enrich our communities and elevate the quality of life throughout the County for all. Each has a unique history, mission and audience of donors and participants and each has unique challenges as trends in marketing continue to shift, technology becomes more advanced and donor behavior changes. With that in mind, it’s become increasingly important for organizations to be proactive and focused on developing strategic plans that integrate these factors to maximize engagement in new ways to amplify your message and tell your unique story to donor bases and communities.

Tell Your Story

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What would you read about in Jason’s next post? Email your suggestions to jason@harrisonrand.com

The growth of content marketing (video, blogs, and social media to name a few) continues to accelerate across all sectors. Non-profits have a distinct advantage here due to their emphasis on mission and positive outcomes. This sense of purpose provides the necessary foundation for great storytelling – a critical component to an effective content marketing program. Over the past year, according to a recent non-profit study, organizations have increased their focus on content marketing from 61% to 76%, only 26%, however, believe that their efforts are realizing an impact largely due to challenges such as staffing, budgets, planning and measurement.

Tip: To maximize efforts and minimize stress, develop a strategic plan and action calendar for creating, distributing, and measuring content and performance. Dedicate a team when possible to driving the initiative (consider board members or donors who might have valuable insight into outreach efforts and valuable messaging).

  • Develop a workflow plan that guides and schedules your content production, delivery and the various platforms you will use
  • Analyze and create donor personas and the content that resonates best with them
  • Focus on the how, what and whys of your approach to storytelling
  • Measure content engagement on different platforms (clicks, comments, sharing, traffic)

Think video. Think mobile.

As the undisputed champ of content marketing, video provides the most compelling and engaging experience for non-profits to communicate their mission, tell their story and demonstrate the value of the organization’s work. Most importantly, it helps create an emotional connection with your supporters that can motivate them to take action.

According to one marketing study, 90% of users said that viewing a video about the organization impacted their decision process. At HarrisonRand, we’ve discovered that video implementation also aligns with successful fundraising efforts across multiple platforms.

After studying a number of high-performing fundraising pages, we discovered that the one consistent component of each was compelling video. Visual storytelling can be an effective way to connect supporters to your mission.

Tip: Compelling video content should be considered for events, websites and email as well as social marketing campaigns.  Also consider embedding a call to action within the video, to make sure viewers know what they can do. Remember, Hudson County is on the go! Make sure your communications are consistent, clear and responsively designed for mobility (Keep your messaging brief and CTAs colorful, bold, and clean). Streamline the conversion process to keep your supporters engaged and improve your mobile strategy.

Make it Personal

The rise in content creation and online communication with audiences presents unique opportunities for nonprofits, but also often frustrating challenges for organizations to track, analyze and truly engage audiences in ways which best suits their preference. Non-profits of all scales, from global to local initiatives are competing for audience’s attention so your mission’s ability to truly connect requires personalization.

Like all relationships, nonprofits can strengthen their connection with donors by effectively communicating in a way that’s meaningful and personalized for them. This requires a deep understanding of your supporters and how they like to be engaged.

Fortunately, as technology has improved, it’s become cheaper and easier than ever to leverage the right resources that can help you learn more about your donors and deliver customized content to them, no matter their current engagement stage.

Tip: There are a number software solutions to better understand your donors. For example, with the right fundraising software, you can add intake questions to your checkout page to gather more information, such as interests and reasons for giving. You can then craft separate follow-up messages that are meaningful to your supporters and show that you care.

There are also many email automation software options available that you can use to analyze donors’ interactions on a broader scale and launch subsequent targeted email campaigns. And by feeding this application into a backend CRM (constituent relationship management) system, you can also effectively manage and track donor data in a single database. This will help you understand supporters’ giving habits, track trends, and identify opportunities for larger gifts.

In light of these emerging nonprofit marketing trends, it’s time to think more strategically about your organization’s strategic planning in concert with communication methods. No doubt it will require time, effort, and patience, but the improved results will be well worth the investment. By taking the necessary steps to understand your supporters and how they prefer to be engaged, you can dramatically improve engagement and more effectively carry out your mission.

Anything in particular you’d like us to write about? We want to hear from you! Email your suggestions to Jason@harrisonrand.com

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Calling All Voters: It’s Election Season in New Jersey

By Hoboken Strategy Group

Fall is here!  Kids are back in school.  The weather is getting crisp.  Campaign signs are populating front lawns like leaves.  That’s right, it’s election season in New Jersey!  Grab a pumpkin spiced latte and get caught up on all of the action with From the Halls of Trenton.

statecap2017 is a big year for Elections in New Jersey.  Only 2 states in the nation are going to the ballot box this year to elect Governors: Virginia and New Jersey.  This year, in addition to electing a Governor, voters will also be going to the polls to choose their State legislative representatives, with all 40 seats in the State Senate and all 80 seats in the State Assembly up for grabs.

Under the New Jersey State Constitution, Governor Chris Christie is term-limited from seeking another term as Governor.  Seeking to replace the Governor are Ambassador Phil Murphy on the Democratic side and Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno for the Republicans.

Democrat Phil Murphy previously served as Chairman of Goldman Sachs as well as the United States Ambassador to Germany.  His running mate is Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver (D-34), the former Speaker of the General Assembly.  Former Ambassador Murphy has pledged to reclaim the Innovation Economy in New Jersey including re-investing in higher education and community colleges to improve affordability as well as the expansion of small business incubators to incentivize new businesses to start in New Jersey.  He has also pledged to increase the minimum wage, mandate earned sick leave, while expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit.  He has also called for the creation of a New Jersey Public Bank which would use state deposits to finance local investments in infrastructure, small businesses and student loans.

Republican Kim Guadagno is New Jersey’s first Lieutenant Governor, serving as the New Jersey Secretary of State.  She is a former prosecutor and served as Monmouth County Sheriff until her election as Lieutenant Governor in 2009.  She is running with Woodcliff Lake Mayor Carlos Rendo who is seeking the Office of Lieutenant Governor.  If elected, the Lieutenant Governor has pledged to cut property taxes through vetoing any new tax increases in addition to the creation of a property tax “circuit breaker” which would cap the school portion of a homeowner’s property tax bill to 5% of their household income.  She has cited the need for reducing the tax burden on working families in order to make the State more welcoming for businesses.  An opponent of the increase in the Gas Tax, the Lieutenant Governor has called for the State to develop a sustainable, long-term infrastructure plan to fund urgent infrastructure needs.

Hudson County’s legislative delegation is also up for election this November.  In the 31st District (Bayonne & Parts of Jersey City) incumbent Democrats Senator Sandra Cunningham, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight and Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti are being challenged by Republicans Herminio Mendoza, Lauren DiGiaro and Michael Alonso, respectively.  Senator Nicholas Sacco, Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez and Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, all Democrats, will be facing Republicans Paul Castelli for State Senate and Ann Corletta and Bartholomew Talamini in the 32nd District (East Newark, Guttenberg, Harrison, Kearny, North Bergen & West New York).  In the 33rd District (Hoboken, parts of Jersey City, Union City & Weehawken), Democratic Senator Brian Stack is being challenged by Beth Hamburger while incumbent Democrats Assembly members Annette Chaparro and Raj Mukherji will be facing off against Republican Holly Lucyk.

With all of these elections across New Jersey, it has been a quiet time around the halls of Trenton.  But once Election Day passes, lawmakers will return to Trenton for the Lame Duck Legislative Session.  Legislators will have until January 8 to advance any pending legislation prior to the end of the session.  The new Legislature will be sworn in on January 9.  On January 16, Governor Christie will officially be leaving office with the swearing-in of New Jersey’s 56th Governor.

In the lame duck session, Governor Christie has expressed his intent to fill any remaining judicial vacancies in the State in order to avoid any backlogs in the court.  The Governor has also called upon lawmakers to make permanent the State’s two percent cap on arbitration awards for police and firefighters.  The cap was implemented in 2010 to assist local governments to maintain the State-mandated 2 percent cap on annual spending increases.  The current measure is set to expire at the end of the year without legislative action.  Proponents of extending the measure have cited an estimated $530 million in savings from police and firefighter salaries during the 7 years of implementation of the cap.

Lame duck sessions are traditionally opportunities for lawmakers to enact new funding measures such as salary increases.  In 2016, Governor Christie and the Legislature failed to enact a measure which would increase the salaries of cabinet officials, county prosecutors, state Supreme Court justices and Superior Court judges while also increasing the salary allotment for staff members of the Legislature.  To date, no word has been provided as to whether this measure would once again be considered.

In September, Governor Christie instituted a $200 million plan to expand the state’s role to address the opioid epidemic.  Absent a hurricane or other natural disaster, this is expected to be the Governor’s final major spending of his administration.  The plan includes the launch of 25 new programs and the expansion of others including housing, prescription drug monitoring, treatm Continue reading

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5 Tips to Get Ready for Your First Business Loan

by Maria Nieves, President & CEO, Hudson County Chamber of Commerce

Our mission is to be a leading resource for our Members. We know that access to capital is one of the most critical needs of a small business on the verge of growth. For this month’s newsletter, we researched tips to help our Members who are considering applying for that first loan. Get ready with these 5 tips.

#1: What Are Lenders Looking For? Most lenders will want to know that you can repay the loan plus interest, and that you can do so regularly. They’ll also likely want the loan to be secured. So get very specific about how much money you need to borrow and how long you’ll need to pay the loan back. See this Fox Business News entitled How to Apply for Your First Business Loan.

smallbizloanpicture#2A: Build Your Personal Credit Score Lenders will want to look not just at the credit score of your business, but also your personal credit score.  Your personal credit score ranges from 300 to 850 (the higher, the better), and evaluates your ability to repay your personal debts, such as credit cards, car loans and a mortgage. The FICO score, commonly used in lending decisions, is based on five factors: your payment history (35% of your score), the amounts owed on credit cards and other debt (30%), how long you’ve had credit (15%), types of credit in use (10%) and recent credit inquiries (10%). You can get a copy of your credit reports for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com and dispute any inaccuracies you find through each of the credit bureaus’ websites (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). If you find any errors, you’ll want to dispute them to improve your credit score.

#2B: Build Your Business Credit Score Forty-five percent of small-business borrowers who are turned down by a creditor are denied because of their credit scores, according to the Federal Reserve Banks of New York, Atlanta, Cleveland and Philadelphia. There are several credit bureaus that collect data and create business credit scores, including Dun & Bradstreet, Experian and Equifax.  You’ll want to maintain a score with all three, because a lender can use any of these bureaus to pull your business credit score. You’re also advised to make sure you pay any creditors on time, and borrow loans from lenders that report to credit bureaus. In fact, borrowing a small loan and paying it back on time from such a lender, can help build your business credit score. See this article from Nerd Wallet for more tips on building your business credit score.

#3: Consider a MicroLoan to Start Building Your Business Credit Consider taking a microloan with the Small Business Administration. The SBA offers loans for businesses to purchase new machinery and equipment, or make improvements like landscaping. Additionally, if you need to renovate your existing office or facility, these funds can help. They offer a microloan program that caps amounts at $50,000. Click here to learn more about the SBA. Here in Hudson County, the Hudson County EDC has a microloan program that also caps loan amounts at $50,000. The Hudson EDC Microloan Program offers fixed-rate (5.0% – 9.5%), six-year loans with as little as 10% down for start-up and existing businesses. Businesses in operation for less than two years can borrow a maximum of $35,000; older business with a profitable operating history are eligible for up to $50,000. There are no prepayment penalties. Click here to see their full suite of loan programs.

#4: Get Your Information Together In addition to solid business and personal credit scores, you’ll need  solid business plan, a strong personal resume (to prove your credible), a strategic marketing plan, and a P&L statement, which is also known as the income statement.  Your P&L statement is a summary of the profit and losses that your business has incurred during a particular time period. Basically, it’s revenue in, less expenses incurred. The SBA has a Business Loan Checklist to help you assemble the needed documents for applying.

#5: Get Help There are many online resources and agencies like the SBA and Hudson County EDC. If you need help connecting to them, let us know. We’d be glad to connect you. Finally, you may also want to consider taking a workshop like our upcoming Next Level Business Planning, a six-week intensive course that can help you put together a business plan and marketing plan.
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From the Halls of Trenton: Battle Brews Over Horizon Blue’s Reserve Fund

By Hoboken Strategy Group

No real surprises: it’ll be Democrat Phil Murphy, a former U.S. Ambassador in the Obama administration, versus NewJersey Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno on the Republican side.by Hoboken Strategy Group

June is here.  The Spring pollen season is coming to a close, which equals less tissues and cleaner cars. The days are getting warmer and longer.  For those of us in the Halls of Trenton, June is shaping up to offer a lot of long days.

statecapAs a loyal From the Halls reader, you know how important this year and this month are.  With the Governor’s Office and all 120 seats in the Legislature up for grabs in November and a balanced State Budget due by June 30- there are a lot of wheels in motion.  On June 6, New Jersey voters headed to the polls to decide who will represent their respective parties on the November ballot. No real surprises: voters have chosen Democrat Phil Murphy, a former U.S. Ambassador in the Obama administration, and  New Jersey Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno on the Republican side.

With Republican Governor Chris Christie term-limited from seeking another term, political observers are closely watching the Republican and Democratic Gubernatorial Primaries.  On the Republican side, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno is seeking to replace her former running mate.  The Lieutenant Governor is being challenged by Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16), Nutley Commissioner Steven Rogers, and political newcomers Joseph Rullo and Hirsh Singh.  For the Democrats, voters will choose between former Ambassador Phil Murphy, Senator Raymond Lesniak, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, Tenafly Borough Councilman Mark Zinna, former Under Secretary of Treasury Jim Johnson and activist Bill Brennan.

The other focus of this month will be the consideration of the State Budget.  Legislators and the Governor will face a projected $527 million budget shortfall which must be filled for a balanced budget.  The administration has announced that roughly $300 million to in funding to local governments to cover Homestead property-tax relief credits will be delayed until the next Fiscal Year.  The remaining shortfall will be plugged using budget surplus funds as well as the State’s Clean Energy Fund.

The administration has also announced that the 2018 Fiscal Year revenue forecast will be increased by $200 million through a series of new tax collection initiatives enacted by the Department of Treasury.  These initiatives include the implementation of a process for collecting overdue taxes which includes more aggressive audits and the targeting of tax delinquents.  This increased revenue forecast is good news for the State given the recent reductions to the sales tax as well as the phasing out of the estate tax.

Another proposal to be considered as a part of the budget process is the Governor’s plan to dedicate lottery revenue to the State’s pension system.  The Governor has lauded this proposal as a dedicated source of revenue after decades of underfunding by both Republican and Democratic administrations.  In recently released details, this proposal includes the dedication of the Lottery Enterprise to the Public Employees Retirement System, the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund and the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System for a period of 30 years.  If enacted, lottery revenue would generate a predicted $36.5 billion to the pension funds over 30 years.  This proposal would drop the State’s unfunded liability in the pension funds from their current $49 billion deficit and result in the funds being 58.9% funded from the current level of 44.7%.

Currently, lottery revenue is directed to the General Fund and dedicated towards higher education programs, psychiatric hospitals, center for people with developmental disabilities and homes to disabled soldiers.  If the plan is enacted, these programs would be funded directly through the State Budget.  According to State Treasurer Ford Scudder, if the pension payment receives a dedicated source of revenue other than annual State Budget appropriations, additional funding will be available in the Budget to be dedicated towards these purposes.

The real battle to watch will be on the Governor’s plan to tap $300 million in funding from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey’s financial reserves to be dedicated towards the creation of a fund for drug treatment programs in the State.  Since proposing the plan during his State Budget address, the Governor has waged a public campaign to urge support for his proposal including the questioning of Horizon’s non-profit status as well as the salaries of their leadership.  Horizon has been quick to defend their operations as well as the purpose of their financial reserves which equate to 75 days cash on hand to pay claims for its 3.8 million insured.

Last week, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto stated that “there is no appetite” in the Assembly to advance the legislation.  During the Assembly Budget Committee’s hearing on the Department of Banking & Insurance, Committee Chairman Gary Schaer (D-36) expressed his concerns that if the State took $300 million from Horizon’s reserves, the fund would have to be replenished, likely through increasing the cost of premiums to policyholders.  On the Senate side, Senator Joseph Vitale, Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services & Senior Citizens Committee has stated that he has yet to decide on whether he will sponsor the proposal.  But hey, it’s June in Trenton and a lot can happen, so stay tuned!

On the good news front, Governor Christie recently announced that the State’s unemployment rate has dropped to 4.1 percent, the lowest that it has been at any time since 2001.  Considering that New Jersey’s unemployment rate was 9.8 percent when the Governor took office in January 2010, this has been a steady improvement for the State’s economy.

Another positive development since our last issue is that the Legislature approved the Governor’s proposed $400 million in extra spending for transportation projects this fiscal year.  For Hudson County, this supplemental appropriation has provided funding for projects include:

  • Viaduct repair/reconstruction along Route 495 in North Bergen;
  • Bridge deck and approach repairs on Route 280 in East Newark;
  • Re-surfacing of Route 185 in Jersey City;
  • Drainage reconstruction and paving of West Side Avenue in North Bergen
  • Preliminary engineering and final design for the NJ Transit Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Route 440 Extension in Jersey City
  • Completion of the Environmental Impact Statement for the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Northern Branch Extension

Well, it’s June and we are government relations professionals, so we have to get back to work.  We will be back over the Summer reporting from a beach chair with an icy libation in hand and bring you up to speed on all of the June excitement that occurred in June in and around the Halls of Trenton!

Hoboken Strategy Group is a boutique New Jersey government relations and business development firm made up of public affairs professionals with years of experience handling legislative and regulatory challenges on the local, state and federal levels.  Kay Elizabeth LiCausi, President of Hoboken Strategy Group, serves on the Hoboken Chamber of Commerce.  Michael J. Comba serves as Vice President of Hoboken Strategy Group.  Special thanks to our Summer Intern, Alexis Bailey, on her contributions to this edition.  Alexis is a rising Sophomore at Rider University.  They can be reached online at www.hobokenstrategy.com and on Facebook at Hoboken Strategy Group.

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HarrisonRand Know-How: The 5 Types of Video You Should Be Thinking About Right Now

by Jason Rand, HarrisonRand

The first thing I did this morning was scroll through my Instagram feed, its like a shot of espresso and gives my brain a visual jolt to get it going. In my feed was a sponsored Kickstarter video for a product called “Gravity”, a weighted blanket that claims to provide a more restful sleep by activating pressure points throughout the body, it was nicely executed, well timed and engaging. When I clicked through to the landing page, the campaign had raised over $4.4 million. Welcome to the new marketing power of video.

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What would you read about in Jason’s next post? Email your suggestions to jason@harrisonrand.com

Online video content has skyrocketed, making up 80% of all Internet traffic in 2017. Video increases conversion and engagement rates more than any other content and is the #1 way to capture the attention of your market. Good video will keep your audiences happy and visitors to your site will stay longer all while giving your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) a big boost due to Google’s higher ranking of sites with deeper engagement. So whether you’re a small or large business, start-up or not-for-profit thinking about video, you’ll want to consider all the places your content will be, who your audience is and what you want them to learn and do after watching it.

#1 The Testimonial Video

Innovative businesses like Amazon and Yelp! have transformed testimonials into powerful marketing tools that build communities around products and experiences. Testimonial videos have that same ability to convert by delivering compelling and authentic messaging about your brand in a more dynamic way. Preparation is the key to a quality outcome so think about who you’ll be featuring in your video and why. Also important to consider are feelings and thoughts you want your audience to take away from watching. Draft a series of questions, some serious and maybe some fun, that really explore the who, what, where and why of your business’ unique selling proposition.

#2 The Storytelling Video:

This approach is similar to a testimonial, but is more focused on the sharing of a personal and transformative story, providing deeper insight into a brand experience and eliciting an emotional response from the audience. This type of approach is particularly effective in the healthcare and educational sectors which face tough competition and rely on patient or student outcomes to differentiate their organizations and provide proof of excellence. As in the testimonial video approach, making this strategy work best for your brand requires preparation and the selection of the right subjects to help tell your story.

#3 The “About Us” Video

I think it’s fair to say that reading bios and Linkedin profiles is not one of the more exciting online activities. The reality is, much of this writing starts to sound the same after awhile. So think about producing a unique video which allows your audience to “meet” your team in a different way. Short introductions, interesting, fun facts, a day at your business, all help your message to break through the noise and differentiate your brand personality by engaging with your audience in a warm, fun, new and different way.

#4 The Virtual Reality Video

VR (Virtual Reality) is fast becoming THE marketing industry buzzword for sectors like Real Estate where tenants and buyers are often only presented with computer generated renderings of lobbies, apartments and amenities while the property is being constructed. A VR video tour is next level marketing for companies who wish to immerse their audiences in a total brand experience anywhere they choose.

#5 The Facebook Live Video

One of the newest and hottest trends to hit the social video world is Facebook Live (and IG stories) and allows users to engage with brands and businesses in real time. The many benefits and applications of the “Live” sessions feature are still being explored online, but consider a live Q&A, tour, event or demo. Be sure to add an description of your content and invite engagement from your audience often. Experimenting with new and different approaches will keep your audiences coming back for more and help spread the word.

Simply put, we’re living in a dynamic age of change and video is leading the way as the king of content and dramatically reshaping the marketing landscape for businesses of every type and scale. Get into it and you’ll be richly rewarded.

Jason Rand is Creative Director of HarrisonRand, a third generation family owned business in Hudson County and Member of the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce. Please let Jason know how it goes and what you’d like to see in his next post: email him at Jason@HarrisonRand.com

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From the Halls of Trenton: State Budget, Lottery Revenues and New Jersey’s Pension Plan

by Hoboken Strategy Group

2017 is turning out to be a busy year in the Halls of Trenton, but hey, it’s New Jersey! Would you have expected anything less than that?

Aside from legislative business, 2017 is an election year in New Jersey with all 80 seats in the General Assembly, 40 seats in the Senate and the Governor’s Office all up for grabs.  Governor Chris Christie is nearing the end of his second term, so New Jersey will have a new Governor in January 2018.  Both the Democrats and Republicans currently each have contested primaries on who from each party will square off in the 2017 Gubernatorial General Election.  Get ready for an action-packed year!

Legislators were welcomed back to Trenton in January and kicked-off the year with statecapGovernor Christie’s State of the State on January 10.  The focus of the Governor’s speech highlighted success in several areas including lowering taxes, creating jobs and reclaiming lives.  The Governor hailed the administration’s accomplishments in reducing the State’s tax burden including a reduction in the State’s Sales Tax, an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit, the phasing out of the elimination of the Estate Tax well as an increase in the State Income Tax exclusion on pension and retirement income.  Governor Christie further touted the State’s success economic growth and job creation during his administration.  Throughout the past seven years, the State has seen consecutive private-sector job growth with 278,000 jobs created since the Governor took office.  For the second straight year, a record number of new businesses filed with the Division of Revenues and Enterprise Services with 103,000 new businesses filed in 2016 and 97,800 new businesses filed in 2015.  The State has also seen home sales increase of 15 percent and unemployment falling to 5 percent, down 4.8 percent since January 2010 when the Governor took office.

Governor Christie also called for the advancement of the State’s fight against the opioid addiction epidemic.  Citing the State’s success in the fight including a  financial commitment of over $127 million to increase mental health and substance use treatment rates and expanding access to care as well as the creation of the Recovery Coach Program to aid overdose survivors, the Governor said there is more to be done.  The Governor called the Legislature to action and by February 15, the State enacted the nation’s strongest addiction recovery reform.  The Governor and Legislature enacted a law requiring insurance coverage for treatment of a substance abuse disorder and the elimination of any coverage waiting period.  The law also reduces the prior 30-day limit on initial opioid prescriptions down to a 5-day limit to avoid deadly and habit-forming gateway drugs from getting into the hands of children and the vulnerable.

The Governor returned to the Assembly Chamber at the end of February to deliver his Budget Address to a Joint Session of the Legislature.  The Governor’s proposed $35.5 billion State Budget plan includes no new tax increases or tax cuts, while holding the line on funding in areas such as property tax relief, municipal aid, public schools, and funding for higher education.

Citing the State’s reauthorization of the Transportation Trust Fund in 2016, the Governor called for a “jumpstart” in the State’s investment in addressing bridge deficiencies and the state of good repair for roads statewide.  The Governor proposed a $400 million supplemental appropriation to allow the Department of Transportation to deliver the largest construction program in state history.  This supplemental appropriation would need to be approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor in order to become a reality.

Governor Christie also called upon the Legislature to overhaul the state’s school aid formula in the next 100 days.  While Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto have each been conducting hearings across the State on the issue, the Governor added an aggressive timeline to advance a proposal.  The Governor said, “I will make a pledge…to work with the leaders of the legislature to come up with a new funding formula. Everything is on the table. No idea is out of bounds for discussion. I am willing to work with you to solve this problem without any pre-conditions on the ideas brought to the table.”  While willing to compromise, the Governor also promised to “act alone” if forced to.

The Governor’s Budget intends to abide by a recent law that calls for the State’s pension contributions to be made in quarterly installments rather than one larger payment at the end of the fiscal year.  The proposed $2.5 billion pension contribution in FY18 would be a record for the State in one fiscal year.  However, the overall contribution would fall short of the roughly $5 billion contribution recommended by actuaries to restore the pension system.

Speaking of pensions, Governor Christie also proposed redirecting lottery revenues to “eligible pension plans.”  The full details of this plan have yet to be released, but the Governor suggested that the State Lottery could be better utilized to fund the pension system.  Currently, the nearly $1 billion in lottery proceeds are used towards programs that assist disabled veterans, college students and the developmentally disabled.  Any change in the current lottery system would require the enactment of legislation.

The Governor also called upon Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield, New Jersey’s largest health insurance provider, to create a charitable fund utilizing its $2.9 billion surplus that could be used to support drug treatment efforts for those without health coverage as well as other services for vulnerable residents who access Charity Care and Medicaid.  The Governor called upon Horizon to embrace the establishment of a permanent fund that would dedicate Horizon’s annual surplus towards tackling public health crises.  Governor Christie said, “As the sole insurer with this unique non-profit status and historically charitable mission, Horizon shares in the financial obligation of caring for our most vulnerable citizens…”  Horizon officials were quick to respond to the Governor’s proposal and the characterization of an “abundant surplus,” instead referring to the funds as a reserve fund of $2.4 billion.  In a statement, Horizon noted that the reserves only have “enough to cover 75 days of claims or just a single day of hospital care for every person Horizon ensures.”  Horizon also suggested that the Legislature enact a law that limits surprise out-of-network billing practices, which costs the company around $1 billion annually.

The Legislature will be out on Budget Recess in mid-March and begin deliberation on the State Budget including public hearings as well as opportunities for each State department and agency to present their budget proposals for the next fiscal year.  The Senate and Assembly Budget Committees will then develop a budget proposal which must be approved by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor by the end of the Fiscal Year (June 30).  Stay tuned because budget season promises to heat things up under the Golden Dome and you can count on us to be there and fill you in on all of the action!

Hoboken Strategy Group is a boutique New Jersey government relations and business development firm made up of public affairs professionals with years of experience handling legislative and regulatory challenges on the local, state and federal levels.  Kay Elizabeth LiCausi, President of Hoboken Strategy Group, serves on the Government Affairs Committee for the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce.  Michael J. Comba serves as Vice President of Hoboken Strategy Group.  They can be reached online at www.hobokenstrategy.com and on Facebook at Hoboken Strategy Group.

 

 

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HarrisonRand Know-How: Thinking for Mobile – 5 Trends for 2017

by Jason Rand, HarrisonRand

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What would you like to read about in Jason’s next post? Email your suggestions to jason@harrisonrand.com

For many of us, we start our days reaching for the mobile phone to turn off the alarm feature, read a notification about Trump’s latest tweet or check the weather or email. Mobile has now become a “hub,” enabling overall connectivity for consumers and opening doors to the internet-of-things, mobile payments, virtual reality and beyond.

By this year’s end, 75 percent of online content consumption will be mobile according to AdAge.  Still, many businesses, both large and small, are struggling with how to engage audiences to provide a richer, more unique mobile experience.

Here are 5 tips to keep in mind when moving into mobile and how thinking for mobile, can help focus your efforts.

#1 Mobile Mentality

When designing your banner ads, websites, Instagram posts and emails, think bold, clean and easy to read with a clear call to action. Hectic schedules and an on-the-go lifestyle combined with small touch screens present unique challenges when designing for the mobile experience. Keep clutter to a minimum.

#2 Mobile-Only Social

Since 80% of time spent on social media is mobile, marketers may want to make this their focus for 2017. Instagram and Snapchat are quickly growing and becoming important channels to consider to engage your mobile audience. Instagram, in particular, is providing many regional businesses with powerful features such as live streaming, in-app purchase and targeted advertising to enhance the mobile first experience.

TIP: Video advertising through Instagram has proven to be a valuable and cost-effective strategy to engage Hudson County target audiences.

#3 Video Wins

In the ongoing competition for attention, users and consumer behavior are transforming the ways in which brands are engaging audiences. As a result, social video is one of the key trends for mobility that is important to consider. YouTube reports that mobile video consumption rises 100% every year. Including video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80%.

TIP: Be sure to include sharing features when using video content and make sure to ask users to help spread your message.

#4 Geofencing on the Rise

All mobile devices feature location information through various network systems, by setting up geofencing businesses can engage mobile audiences within a defined geographic area. For regional events and trade shows geofencing has become an incresingly important strategy to target unique audiences.

TIP: Geofencing was used extensively and effectively in the Jersey City “Make It Yours” campaign to engage audiences at various mobile hubs throughout Brooklyn, NYC and Jersey City.

#5 Listen and Learn

Don’t forget to A/B test with your mobile messaging. When deploying in-app content through Facebook and Instagram, its recommended to run multiple campaigns with different creative and messaging to ensure that your efforts are as effective as possible and yielding the greatest ROI. Tracking performance and analytics can provide important clues to your audience’s behavior and where to take your marketing efforts moving forward to meet their needs. Listen to your audience and you’ll be richly rewarded.

The world of mobile is a complex, ever-changing landscape which is constantly evolving by aggregating important consumer data and insights. The result is a powerful marketing machine which is seamlessly adapting to user behavior by adding features and benefits to engage audiences in a deeper mobile brand experience. So whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a small business, embracing mobility can help supercharge your marketing efforts through the coming years.

Jason Rand is Creative Director of HarrisonRand, a third generation family owned business in Hudson County and Member of the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce. Please let Jason know how it goes and what you’d like to see in his next post: email him at Jason@HarrisonRand.com

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