Rapp Strategies Rundown – June 2018

What we’re reading, listening to and thinking about this month.

Todd R.: I'm starting Katy Tur's book Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History on the 2016 campaign, and the challenges of covering a presidential election while Donald Trump was re-writing the rules of campaigning. Preet Bharara's podcast "Stay Tuned" is in the middle of a four-part series about how the federal criminal justice system works from the inside. Great stuff. I've put my iPhone on "shuffle" this week - had a back-to-back of Arcade Fire’s “Modern Man,” Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man.” Thankfully, no one can hear me sing in my car.

Todd S.: June seems like the perfect month to revisit a favorite book – Fantasyland by Sam Walker. The story is about Walker’s attempt to win America’s top fantasy baseball expert competition with no experience playing fantasy baseball. This, he writes, is "like trying to learn the cello by joining the London Philharmonic." It’s a fun, sharply written book with quirky characters and great insights into America’s pastime and how it’s evolved. Walker is currently the WSJ’s deputy editor for enterprise, the unit that oversees the paper’s in-depth page-one features and investigative reporting projects.

Rita: My summer reading list has to include best-selling titles that no longer have long waitlists at the library. On the summer stack: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and Lab Girl by Hope Jahren.

Sarah: One of my favorite follows on Twitter is @FiveThirtyEight – they deliver data-driven stories in an easily digestible format. I’m a sucker for a good historical fiction novel and just finished The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Up next is At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen.

Aaron: I am currently reading Paul Strathern’s novel The Medici: Power, Money, and Ambition in the Italian Renaissance. A very readable history of the Medici family and their influence on the renaissance.

Anna: I enjoy the advice and insight of contributors to Fairygodboss, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of women professionals. I am also reading To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, a stunning and atmospheric summer novel. And my day always begins with Blois Olson's Morning Take, a tip sheet of top Minnesota news stories.

Andrea: I was recently introduced to “tiny desk,” an NPR video series of intimate music performances by artists in all genres. It’s an awesome and creative introduction to new music.

Staff Spotlight: Rita Beatty

As an Account Supervisor at Rapp Strategies, Rita Beatty works with clients to identify goals and develop workplans to get them where they want to go. Rita also oversees staff to keep clients’ strategic plans on time and on task. “Every client is different – there are always many factors in play, and reaching some goals is more challenging than others,” says Rita. “Regardless, without a roadmap you can’t reach your destination.”

Rita’s experience in Twin Cities TV newsrooms and with a large local nonprofit helped prepare her for her planning and project management work at Rapp Strategies. “Each TV newscast is like a mini project: you have to have a plan, you must be on the air on time and you need to work with your team to get the show put together. At Rapp Strategies, team members have complementary skill sets that help us continually push each other to look at issues from different angles and find new and better solutions for clients.”

How have you grown as a professional since you started working at Rapp Strategies three years ago?

I have learned a lot from Todd Rapp, who asks the right questions to move an issue to the next level. Todd’s a master of situational analysis and is always thinking ten steps down the road. Those are all strategic skills I am seeking to build upon.

What is your favorite aspect of your job? 

I will always and forever love writing. But nothing beats really becoming a team member with clients and celebrating their wins!

What is one habit that makes you more successful?

I am a hard worker – I like to work!

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

In my high school yearbook, I predicted I would be a producer for David Letterman.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

My family.

What is one thing about you few people know?

I worked as an extra out in Hollywood in my 20s.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

You don’t get what you don’t ask for.

What is one piece of wisdom you would give your younger self? 

Believe in yourself.

Shaping Understanding

Many of our clients come to us because they seek to advance important ideas – in areas such as public health, education, or business growth, we are asked to draw attention to ways to improve the quality of life in the Upper Midwest.  Part of this can be seeking ways to enhance the client’s reputation as a thought leader on an issue.

Other times, our clients ask us to help them prevent a bad idea from advancing, or manage a potential risk to the reputation they have spent decades building. 

In each of these instances, Rapp Strategies’ goal is to shape understanding of key audiences – helping others understand your organization’s vision, goals and challenges.  Shaping understanding – whether the focus is a specific issue or your overall reputation – is an essential component of business success. 

Every organization has a mission or purpose. 

  • What are the core values behind that mission? 
  • What drives people to work for you as employees or volunteers? 
  • What are your biggest challenges?  
  • What is the simple story you want to leave with your audiences? 

The answers provide a clearer understanding of who you are and where you’re going.

At Rapp Strategies, Inc., we help organizations pursue their full potential, overcome obstacles and achieve business goals. 

We are strategists. We are relentless thinkers. We solve problems. We advance great ideas.

Your organization is unique, and we make sure that our planning is tailored to your unique needs. We help our clients communicate their value in an authentic way. That’s how we make your outreach and engagement plans more effective. 

How do we shape understanding for your organization? Here is where we start:

  • We work to understand your goals.
  • We identify your opportunities to achieve those goals and the risks you will encounter.
  • We develop a strategy, not an off-the-shelf retread but a strategy tailored specifically to your needs.
  • We create an action plan, one that can be implemented by the client or in partnership with the Rapp Strategies team.
  • We develop outcomes and benchmarks that we can work towards, because every great trip needs a destination.

Shaping understanding is a fundamental objective of our work. We cultivate relationships inside your organization and help you connect with those from the outside. We work alongside our clients to maximize their expertise and insights.  And with that understanding, we find a path to success.

Most of all – we stay focused on the target.  If you are successful managing issues ... if you are building and sustaining the reputation you seek … then we’ve done our job.

Rapp Strategies Rundown - May 2018

What we’re reading, listening to and thinking about this month.

Todd R.: I just finished John Sandford’s latest [novel], “Twisted Prey.” An interesting twist to a new Lucas Davenport case. I spent the weekend on “Bobby Kennedy for President” on Netflix, a four-part series that offers a look at a time when we were even more politically divided than we are today.  Cheryl Reeve on the Talk North Podcast network is great, but it's 80 degrees out – time to listen to Beauty and the Beat by the Go-Gos

Todd S.: Don’t miss “WriteLane” with Lane DeGregory, the Pulitzer Prize winning writer/reporter at the Tampa Bay Times. You get terrific insights and pointers on how to write better by one of the best. The conversation is inviting and easy to follow. And Lane offers tremendous insight on how journalists write challenging stories.

Rita: The New York Times Morning Briefing provides a bulleted look at what you need to know to start your day. It’s enough information to skim through and feel like you know what’s going on, but not enough to bog you down. Of course, there are links to full reports if you need to know more. In addition to the news of the day, you also get a smattering of lifestyle tidbits.

Sarah: The Skimm – my favorite blogger turned me on to this morning newsletter years ago. Current events with the perfect amount of sass and pop culture. I start every morning with NPR’s “Up First” podcast. It gives me the need-to-know headlines first thing as I get ready for work.

Aaron: WNYC Studios “Note to Self” is my go-to podcast that explores how technology affects culture, the way we work and the way we live our lives.

Andrea: Recently, I’ve been reading “Damn Good Advice” by George Lois – an encouraging book for creatives/people who think outside the box. I’m a weekly listener to Latino USA, where I get to hear stories of my people and important issues that are affecting us.

Todd Stone Joins Rapp Strategies as Senior Director

MINNEAPOLIS, May 2, 2018 -- Rapp Strategies, Inc. announced that Todd Stone, a veteran news journalist and former business editor of the Star Tribune, has joined the strategic communications and public affairs firm as its senior director.

 Todd Stone has joined Rapp Strategies as its senior director.

Todd Stone has joined Rapp Strategies as its senior director.

As Rapp Strategies (RSI) expands its client services, Stone will provide strategic counsel in the areas of media relations, public affairs, risk management and strategic communications.

"We are thrilled that Todd has become a member of the team at Rapp Strategies," explained Todd Rapp, Chief Executive Officer. "His background as a journalist, editor and team leader will offer clients outstanding value as we help them shape understanding and manage their issue and reputation challenges."

Stone recently returned to Minnesota after working almost three years in Texas as a senior leader at the Houston Chronicle, where he helped lead new content and product initiatives for its digital and print operations. From 2010 to 2015, he was the Star Tribune's business editor, directing news coverage of the Twin Cities' most celebrated companies, major developments, business innovations and trends.

Stone has worked as an editor, department head and writing coach for several major newspapers, including the Denver Post, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He earned his BA in journalism and MBA at Texas A&M University.

Stone said he was deeply intrigued by RSI's mission to help clients solve problems and leverage new opportunities through creative thinking and building relationships. "The staff is energetic, smart and focuses on client needs over firm rewards," Stone said. "Rapp Strategies' strategic focus and commitment to service feel like the perfect fit for me."

Founded in 1982, the firm has provided top-tier strategic counsel and communications support to companies, trade groups, non-profits and government agencies in the Upper Midwest for more than 35 years. Last year, Rapp acquired 100 percent ownership of the firm from John Himle. Rebranded as Rapp Strategies, Inc., the firm continues to help clients navigate complicated issues, raise public awareness, strengthen partnerships and manage reputation risks to reach their goals.

Rapp joined the firm in 2001 after serving in a number of senior public affairs positions, including executive director to former Minnesota House Speaker Phil Carruthers and director of Minnesota Public Affairs for Xcel Energy. He became a partner in the firm in 2008, when the firm was named Himle Horner.


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