Home page: we’re thinking of a classy Home page with logo or illustration with the first three graphs of copy:
So, what's a plumbline? For surveyors and builders, it's an ancient tool – an actual line – with a weight on the end called a plumb bob, and it’s used to determine verticality. It is to vertical what a “level” is to horizontal.
For public affairs, Plumbline is a creative, results-focused firm in Washington, D.C. – and the name isn't the only term we've borrowed from architecture. We are organized around the design-build model, meaning that we both create problem-solving strategies and implement the actual work. Our core staff of highly experienced professionals maintains relationships with crews all over the United States, and several other countries, the same way a good general contractor knows the best electricians and builders for a specific task.
At Plumbline Public Affairs, we’re all about setting specific goals and getting results. As a focused, boutique public affairs shop, we know that’s how we will be measured, and 80 percent of our work comes from direct client referrals or return customers. Our mission is to help clients vertically align their goals – whether it’s strategic communications and media relations, grassroots/grasstops coalition building or more complex governmental relations. Our work roams from the highest levels in Washington, D.C. to specific municipalities.
Page #2: The Plumbline Story
At Plumbline, we believe the power of "story" creates context and texture to communication. We believe it will be key for our clients, and we believe it is a key to what makes us a different kind of public affairs shop.
Our firm was built to house and empower a very special team of seasoned public affairs professionals. We are organized around what we’re calling “design-build” concepts, borrowing an architectural term to help explain how we work. We understand how similar Washington firms can seem – hey, we create talking points for a living. What we feel sets us apart is that we “design” your strategy and tactics and then build your solutions without handing you off to junior staff (or even other firms) and diluting the impact of your resources. We've worked that way ourselves at huge firms, and we know how ineffective it can be.
Sure, we hire other professionals just like a general contractor will hire carpenters and electricians to build a home. But we never relinquish direct daily oversight, we don't "phone it in" or take our eyes off the objective. That’s why the team that you see at the “pitch” meeting is the same team you’ll see at the implementation meeting – and throughout the effort.
Our firm is also what’s called “senior staff heavy” in D.C. jargon, meaning we have a lot of experience. Our core leadership has more than 100 years of combined media and public affairs experience, and we’ve handled everything from international issues management campaigns to municipal re-zoning approvals (which are harder than you might think). We've worked in every state and several other countries. Our national grassroots team helped build some of the more legendary reputations in D.C., and we've been involved in nearly every major issue of American politics.
The “Plumbline” name actually comes from the roots of our founder, Michael D. Tucker, whose grandfather owned the Alabama country store where “Tucker,” as he’s mostly called, had his first job pumping gas – at all of 10-years-old. A religious man, Grandpa Amos’ favorite Bible verse was from the book of Amos where it’s noted that “the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand …” A literal plumbline is a line from which a weight is suspended to determine verticality; it is to vertical what a “level” is to horizontal.
For the Tuckers, it came to mean doing things right, doing things “by the plumbline.” When it came time to name the new firm, it was an easy decision.
Of course, we will be adding more of the usual stuff to this website as time passes. If you’d like to be part of that future, and if you've read this far it's likely you do, then give us a call – some days, Tucker might even answer the phone himself. It's that kind of place.
Page #3: Experience
Our firm may have been formed at night, but it wasn’t last night.
It was Iron Mike Tyson who said "everyone's got a plan until they get hit." One of the differences between dedicated public affairs and non-political public relations firms with "political practices" is how they respond to getting punched in the mouth. In marketing, the other guys pretty much have to play fair – politics can get more rough and tumble. Whoever actually made up that old saying "you can have your own opinions, but not your own facts" has never had to counter a biased research study or endured a congressional hearing.
As a focused boutique public affairs firm, Plumbline brings senior-level planning and execution to our clients’ efforts. We’re not a big firm that simply checks the boxes; we’re about joining and empowering your team to create and achieve strategic goals. Our leadership has engaged at the highest levels with some of the largest companies and most complex issues in recent U.S. history. From stem cell policy to communication spectrum, we have engaged and motivated grassroots constituencies in more than 500 campaigns. In addition to our national team, we work with a network of local firms and individuals who can bring specific skills and experience to that particular market.
Our teamwork spans all levels of government, from city councils to state legislatures to federal agencies, Congress and the White House. We specialize in developing community support for difficult – often highly controversial, but the arcane comes with its own problems – issues to provide legislators or regulators with substantive encouragement to support our clients’ positions.
Whether you are facing an immediate challenge or longer term issues, if part of the solution is building a grassroots or grasstops program or coalition, you're not going to do much better. If you would like to integrate new approaches into your public education, media or marketing efforts, our team has the resources, the skills and the experience to execute an effective and cost-efficient program to meet your needs.
We can provide case studies and references specific to your challenges. And we are built to last.
Michael Tucker, Founder
Over the course of more than 20 years, Tucker has established himself as one of Washington's premier strategists and coalition practitioners, managing numerous successful public affairs and communications campaigns on behalf of Fortune 500 companies as well as national organizations and trade associations. A veteran grassroots media specialist and political consultant, Tucker is a former political and government reporter and news editor. He served as the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's national spokesperson, communications director and deputy political director. He was also U.S. Senator J. Robert Kerrey's communications and policy director.
Curtis Robinson, Principal
Curtis Robinson’s journalism career roams from covering Margaret Thatcher for Reuters to helping salvage the last remaining member of the Boston Phoenix alternative newspaper group, including a 10-year association with the late-great Hunter S. Thompson along the way. He was editorial director of Aspen.com when that site won the National Newspaper Association of America’s Digital Excellence Award – the “Edgy” – and has edited news products in nine states, launched five newspapers and created dozens of websites. Using experience from the media world, he joined the Washington, D.C. issues communication industry in 2001, helping merge traditional tactics into an increasingly digital world. He has led multiple public affairs and strategic communications campaigns for some of the largest independent public affairs firms in Washington, D.C.
Page 4: Our Core Capabilities
Strategic Communications / Media Relations
Every public affairs shop is built around a specific DNA. At Plumbline, that would be the intersection of journalism and political campaigns. In addition to our political and Capitol Hill experience, our shop’s core leadership has extensive journalism experience which heavily influences our Strategic Communications and Media Relations services. We maintain a considerable network of social and traditional media connections, and we pride ourselves in knowing what motivates, rather than manipulates, reporters. As we’ve sat on the other side of reporters’ or assignment editors’ desks, we have a unique personal understanding of where the BS meters are calibrated inside newsrooms.
Having served as spokespersons, speech writers and media strategists for politicians, political organizations and corporations, we know how to effectively convey a client’s message to reporters, policymakers and audiences of all shapes and sizes because we are fluent in many different arenas. Our communications services dovetail nicely with our coalition building capabilities, as we often leverage our local efforts to deliver customized earned media, including opinion editorials, blog postings and participation of advocates in local press events that amplify and substantiate client messages in the media. From that core communications background, we branch out to empower letters campaigns and amplify advocates.
We not only help YOU tell your story, we help your allies tell your story.
Grassroots / Grasstops Coalition Building
Our Coalition Building team specializes in developing and executing premier lobbying, advocacy, grassroots, and grasstops strategies. We have significant experience in building federal, state and local support for major legislative and regulatory agendas. We also know how challenging it is to design a management structure that maximizes value from on-the-ground resources in targeted markets. In addition to ensuring that in-market programs align with the overarching program strategy, we excel at program efficiency, reporting and delivering results.
Having managed high-profile political and corporate campaigns, we are adept at rallying supporters and engaging highly influential audiences to generate highly personal forms of grassroots and grasstops contacts – including letters, in-district intercepts of targeted policymakers and client engagement in local events.
Our Government Relations services are designed to help clients effectively navigate the regulatory and legislative environment in which they operate. With an eye on the overarching bottom line, we identify and take narrow steps to influence the legislative activity and regulatory decisions that affect our clients. We ensure our clients are politically aware and policy sound. Again, having sat at all sides of the table – as senior Hill staffers, as journalists reporting on issues, as client representatives, and as independent expert policy and political counsel – we can bring decades of experience to bear in helping clients successfully deepen their government engagements.
Our national network of field operatives and media specialists reflects our background – many are themselves former journalists. That gives us the ability to identify allies across the country or within a particular region to build a broad and influential coalition of supporters. Strategically and effectively mobilizing third party allies – whether they’re high-powered business contacts or average constituents – can often be the difference between success and failure.
Page 5: Contact Us
Plumbline Public Affairs
Address: 6903 30th Street North, Arlington, VA 22213
Phone: (202) 744-6116