Sustain the places that sustain us
Walton Family Foundation
For 10 years, Spitfire has supported the Walton Family Foundation’s Environment Program, which strives to protect oceans and rivers and the livelihoods they support. From protecting the health of the Mississippi River and restoring the Louisiana coastline to ensuring sustainability in the seafood industry, Walton’s work is focused on ensuring healthy rivers and oceans for the benefit of people and the environment.
Over the past decade, Spitfire has helped members of the Environment Program’s Mississippi River, Louisiana Coast and Oceans initiatives increase their media savvy, secure crucial placements and create engaging communication materials from op-eds to infographics.
Above all, we create communication strategies for the Walton Environment team to advance its media presence, put the spotlight on its work and advance its message: by working with nature, not against it, we can sustain the places that sustain us.
Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico
Spitfire provides consistent strategic media support to the Mississippi River and Louisiana Coast programs, which focus on water management, flood prevention and wetland conservation. We have developed a strong editorial strategy for these teams to help advance their messaging in key states where their work takes place. In late 2018, Spitfire created an op-ed for a Walton program officer dissecting the 2018 Farm Bill, framing the conservation wins in the new law as well as the challenges ahead due to new budget constraints. Following the legislation’s passage, Spitfire got the op-ed placed in the Des Moines Register – a critical outlet for this commentary, reaching target audiences in the agriculture community. In the summer of 2019, Spitfire drafted and placed multiple op-eds to support Walton’s Mississippi River and Louisiana Coast Program. The Times-Picayune published an op-ed we drafted for two Walton program officers, comparing the challenges of flooding from too much water in the Mississippi River and drought from too little water in the Colorado River. And we developed and placed an op-ed by a Mississippi River program officer in The State Journal-Register applauding Illinois’ governor for signing into a law a new cover crop insurance program. Soon after, we placed a second cover crop op-ed in AgriPulse by another program officer highlighting a new, favorable USDA regulation.
Oceans and Fisheries
Spitfire also works with several program officers in Walton’s Oceans program, who focus on developing sustainable fisheries in Chile, Peru, Indonesia and Mexico, as well as advancing global sustainability efforts within the industry and throughout the supply chain. We seize opportunities to harness media in creative ways and elevate program officers as thought leaders. This work includes providing messaging guidance and interactive media training for program officers.
For the 2019 Seafood Expo North America, Spitfire implemented a three-pronged communication strategy for the Walton Oceans team. To illustrate the growing support for sustainable seafood across the industry, we organized a media tour of the Expo’s exhibit hall with outlets that included The Boston Globe, Forbes, CBS Moneywatch and the food-focused Sourcing Matters podcast. This media engagement with Sourcing Matters resulted in a long-form interview of Walton’s seafood markets program officer. We also developed an op-ed for that program officer and an important grantee, describing the growth in industry enthusiasm for sustainability over the past 20 years.
We placed this op-ed via Project Syndicate in 20 publications across 16 countries in eight languages, including The Japan Times, La Nación and the Jordan Times.
In addition, at the Expo, Spitfire captured still photos and produced videos for the organization’s blog as well as social media content that mirrored the op-ed’s narrative. We created another internal video for Walton’s staff and board members, explaining the importance of this sustainability work.
Our work supporting the Oceans Program continued in the summer of 2019, conducting stakeholder interviews and writing an essay on Mexican fisheries for the foundation’s blog. Spitfire also conceptualized and drafted an infographic for publication alongside an op-ed co-authored by Lukas Walton and Fred Krupp of the Environmental Defense Fund, which was picked up by Reuters and some of its affiliates around the world.
In the fall of 2019, we organized a beat dinner for environmental reporters at the Society of Environmental Journalists Conference in Fort Collins, Colorado. The dinner featured sustainably-sourced seafood and a panel of experts on fisheries and the seafood industry, including a Walton program officer. The panel discussion covered the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on the state of the ocean, support for ocean conservation in land-locked states and the future of sustainable seafood. Before and after the dinner, we facilitated conversations between Walton’s program officer and various reporters, among the 30 in attendance, to build new relationships and pitch future coverage of seafood sustainability.
Spitfire is an ongoing strategic partner to the Walton Environment Program, supporting earned and owned media efforts, raising the profiles of foundation leadership and program officers and providing additional communication counsel.
Spitfire continues to provide expert counsel and support for the Walton Family Foundation’s vital work. We remain focused on elevating the Environment Program and its work to protect rivers and oceans.