The way to win in the Gulf South is to have a firm that deeply understands talking to the people of the Gulf South.

In public relations, we all believe in relationships. We all believe in results. What makes TEG different is we choose to practice our craft in the Gulf South.

In 2005, everything my wife and I owned washed away in floodwater that followed Hurricane Katrina. She and I had a choice to make. Return and rebuild with our newborn daughter or go elsewhere.

We chose to stay and build. That’s what makes us different.

The challenges along the U.S. Gulf Coast in the last 15 years – from hurricanes and oil spills to economic downturns and a pandemic – put the same basic choice in front of millions of the region’s citizens.

Stay or go.

In most every other community across the U.S., you live somewhere because that’s where you grew up. It could be where you went to college. You may move for your career or for a partner or spouse.

Down here, if you wanted to live in New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile, Pensacola and now Lake Charles, you had to make the choice to stay and build…your business, your family, your house, your life.

These choices to stay created a different dynamic among the people of the Gulf South. When you choose to stay, you possess a greater sense of ownership. That sense pervades all aspects of a community, including public safety, education, industry and economics. If you want something to happen, you speak out and say so. If you don’t want something to happen, you speak out even louder. Real or perceived, you feel like you have a say.

At the same time, the Gulf South is distinct in the American fabric of communities. Our cuisine, music, celebrations and families are unique. We spend our free time in certain ways, whether its hunting and fishing, at the beach or eating and dancing at festivals. We possess certain expectations of our elected leaders. We are the economic gateway to the middle of the U.S.

To accomplish something in the Gulf South, you must know how the people here think and act. How do they spend their money? Why do they support certain things and not others?

You have to deal with the sense of ownership that comes with choosing to stay and build.

We understand that because we’ve lived it.

Being local and knowing local is more important than ever.

With thousands of ways we can watch, listen, read and share stories and information today, the people of the Gulf South still trust local voices.

Communicating today doesn’t just mean that you categorize people into different general buyer profiles. We need to know more, much more, about people and their priorities, beliefs and motivations.

“If you don’t know the people around you, how can you trust them? The more disconnected we are from each other, the less we can rely on each other to be good and nice. Without repeated interactions with the same people, we become suspicious of each other. If we are uncertain, we default to mistrust,” says Shane Parrish, Farnam Street Media.

With the rapid rise of disinformation that we face from all angles daily, we turn to our tribe…the people who live on our street and in our towns … to get the latest information and opinions.

In the communities of the Gulf South, everyone knows someone else. When we meet you, we will ask you if you know someone else with the same last name, the same alma mater or someone who used live in your neighborhood. Those relationships matter because they reveal who someone looks to for advice and information in making decisions. A decision to buy something, attend an event or support an issue or cause.

The people of the Gulf South still trust the local news. More than 75 percent of us say that our local media does “very well” or “fairly well” in keeping us informed on the most important local stories of the day (Pew Research Center, 2020). We look to our local TV stations, news websites and even newspapers to get the information we need.

We believe in understanding the dynamics of the “room.” According to author Morgan Housel, “everyone belongs to a tribe and underestimates how influential that tribe is on their thinking.” Being and knowing local reveal the best paths for us for listening and informing that then build the relationships and trust that lead to our clients reaching their goals.

You know you have a problem. We know why and what to do about it.

The Gulf South is a misunderstood land of opportunity if you can speak the language.

The Gulf South is a distinct collection of cultural backgrounds, traditions, celebrations and experiences. Some of the best fishing in the world is right off of the oil and natural gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. We watch football in larger numbers than any region of the U.S., even if our favorite teams aren’t playing in the game.

When we are outside of New Orleans and the Gulf South, the most frequent question we hear is whether “we’ve been to Mardi Gras.” Most everyone living elsewhere can’t imagine life with Mardi Gras, parades in the streets or dancing on the sidewalk to celebrate life. We can’t envision life without it.

One long-time client and colleague used to say, “you can’t sell tickets to fish,” when he talked about consumers in the Gulf South. Selling in this region requires that you go east and west, knowing what people will travel to do and what gets them to actually travel to do it.

Successful communications here is face-to-face and person-to-person. Going east and west along I-10, north and south along I-55 and I-59. This approach has never changed. You just need to spend the time doing it. To do it well, you need to know how to talk to folks in their communities.

We believe in action and acting wisely.

Rarely do time and fresh air solve problems. Understanding the challenges and understanding how to engage with the people of the Gulf South at the right time and with the right message do.

Our knowledge means nothing if we don’t act. We must act to succeed. Wishing a problem away does not solve the challenge at hand, no matter the issue.

To succeed, we must listen, understand, act and adjust.

Gaining trust is the foundation of being heard and finding success. The choices we make based on information presented to us determines our future and impacts who and how we trust.

“We need to trust the people around us in order to live happy, productive lives,” according to Shane Parrish. Mistrust, on the other hand, is expensive. “When we can’t trust each other, nothing works.”

There is great uncertainty in our communities today. We are bombarded with information through our devices and screens. We are having conversations that are decades overdue. As our towns and local economies reemerge from the valleys of 2020, we look forward to enjoying the same or better experiences from happier days.

For us to be successful as communities, though, we must build trust. Citizens building trust with each other. Companies and organizations engaging with the audiences most important to them. We believe that trust is earned when we choose to interact with other people and share our point of view.

The headline of a 2019 article in the Harvard Business Review said “persuasion hasn’t changed in 2000 years. Persuasion is responsible for generating one-quarter or more of America’s total national income. Words and ideas created the modern world.”

Today, we have dozens of opportunities to share our stories on our own terms and timeline. We can speak directly to the people most important to us. How we develop and share our words and ideas so that we educate, captivate and motivate is essential to engaging with the public and building the trust we need to succeed.

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The world is growing more complicated not less. The way to win in the Gulf South is to have a firm that deeply understands listening and talking to the people of the Gulf South. We understand because we’ve chosen to stay and build.

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