Government Relations and Advocacy

The Stanly County, North Carolina, board of commissioners contracted with MMI to create and implement a strategic grassroots communications campaign. The client wanted to inform the public that Alcoa, one of the world’s leading aluminum manufacturers, could obtain federal licensing to monopolize huge profits and water rights for hydroelectric operations on the Yadkin River at the county’s expense, without having to clean up years of contamination.



Meeting with commissioners less than a month before the licensing deadline, MMI was tasked with creating and executing a communications campaign designed to influence public and government opinion and action on potential federal licensing for Alcoa. Alcoa previously had a 50-year license for operations on the Yadkin River, and it seemed likely that the license would be renewed. The board of commissioners not only needed timely and effective communications initiatives, but ones that would reach a wide swath of key stakeholders across North Carolina with the types of media they preferred to consume.


To respond to Stanly County’s needs, MMI created a set of blogs, op-eds and columns addressing the relicensing and its negative impacts on Stanly County and North Carolina as a whole. Strategic messaging on timely topics served to educate reporters, elected officials and the public on the relicensing issue and promoted calls to action designed to hold Alcoa accountable for its actions, including environmental damage to the Yadkin River. This damage included water and fish contamination from cyanide and arsenic in ground water monitoring wells, along with the presence of other harmful chemicals.

MMI carefully crafted and disseminated blogs and podcasts to targeted stakeholders including local, regional and statewide media, business owners, North Carolina Senate and House members, national environmental groups and more. A steady stream of communications kept the issue active and pressured Alcoa to respond at every juncture. In addition, MMI organized and hosted town hall meetings and a march on the North Carolina capitol in Raleigh to garner public support and create advocates for Stanly County and the Yadkin River. MMI managed events with environmental advocate Erin Brockovich to further galvanize opposition with legislators and the general public.


Federal licensing of the dams for Alcoa, assumed a given by many, remains in limbo today. MMI’s efforts rallied support in favor of Stanly County from state legislators, including former Gov. Bev Purdue, and current Gov. Pat McCrory. State environmental regulators have denied approvals following revelations in court that Alcoa misled them about its water quality along the Yadkin River in Stanly County.



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