Middletown Area School District

MiddletownAreaSchoolDistrict.jpgThe Middletown Area School District implemented a 10-percent, nonresidential parking tax that primarily affected the Harrisburg International Airport.

The airport board filed a lawsuit challenging the parking tax. The school district’s law firm contacted Triad Strategies to handle the media for the issue, explaining why the parking tax was necessary and countering the airport’s PR efforts. Triad drafted press releases and contacted the media to begin framing the issue. Triad arranged newspaper and TV interviews for the superintendent and scheduled an editorial board meeting with the Harrisburg Patriot-News, resulting in favorable media coverage and a positive editorial calling for the airport to resolve the lawsuit and collect the parking tax.

Throughout the court case, Triad kept the media and general public engaged through letters to the editor and grassroots efforts. Triad also scheduled meetings with airport board members and local opinion leaders to stress the importance of settling the case. The meetings, coupled with the media coverage, put pressure on the airport to resolve the case. A year later, the school board and airport reached an agreement to end the lawsuit and collect the parking tax. The solicitor for the school district, who shepherded the court case and negotiations, told Triad Strategies that it deserved much credit for the resolution.

Although each situation is unique, Triad’s success often relies on a winning combination of strong grassroots mobilization in the community and high-impact government relations “on the Hill” in Harrisburg. The public relations strategy might involve outreach to local media and stakeholder groups with the goal of convincing local legislators of the strong community support for funding requests.

The second part of the strategy could involve Triad delivering the same message to civic leaders, as well as educating elected officials on the need to support financial health for the district.