Idea Bank: Rivals Join Forces to Push a Message Up The Hill

marketing and communications By: Rob Stott

The National Multifamily Housing Council and the National Apartment Association launched the "Apartments. We Live Here." campaign, and are using an economic impact calculator to turn a bland discussion about jobs into an engaging conversation with state and federal legislators.

What's the great idea? A campaign featuring an interactive website and economic impact calculator turns a bland subject into an engaging conversation.

Who's doing it? The National Multifamily Housing Council and the National Apartment Association

What's involved? NMHC and NAA teamed up to launch the "Apartments. We Live Here." campaign to help their industry's stakeholders deliver a unified message to government officials at the local, state, and federal levels. The campaign focused on the number of jobs the apartment industry supports.

"Everyone tends to talk about jobs, which makes it a relatively banal and not-that-interesting topic," says NMHC Vice President of Strategic Communications Jim Lapides. "We knew we needed to come up with an interesting and different approach to take what is ordinarily very dry information and give people a reason to engage with it."

The result was an interactive map that shows in-depth, state-by-state employment figures and a calculator that determines the economic impact an apartment building will have on a community, based on the number of construction jobs, ongoing jobs, and residents who live there.

"A key first step was getting really good data and determining what our audience—the policymakers—thought about the industry," Lapides says. "From there, it was all about coming up with a unique way to present the data that allows people to engage with it."

What are people saying? "One of the most exciting things that I saw was a mayor posting a jobs calculation on his Facebook page about an upcoming project to encourage debate among his constituents," says Lapides. "So we know that people are using it all across the board—people who are involved in the very decisions where we want them to be thinking about apartments."

In just over a year since the campaign launched, the calculator has been used 10,000 times.

Rob Stott is assistant editor at Associations Now in Washington, DC. Email: [email protected]

[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Apartment Building."]

Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor to Associations Now.