Travis LeBlanc, FCC’s top cop, takes ‘fearless’ and ‘bold’ approach

“Fearless” and “bold” are among the words that have been used to describe Travis LeBlanc. They’re traits he’s readily demonstrated as chief of the Bureau of Enforcement at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Since taking the FCC post in March 2014, LeBlanc has gone after the likes of AT&T, ESPN, Marriott, PayPal, T-Mobile, Verizon and Viacom. Under LeBlanc’s watch, the FCC, in conjunction with other federal agencies, garnered more than $365 million in fines, settlements and refunds for consumers during his first year on the job, according to National Journal.

LeBlanc will deliver a keynote speech Feb. 18 at DMA’s Washington Nonprofit Conference.

In a relatively short period, the FCC’s “$365 Million Man,” as National Journal calls LeBlanc, has delighted consumer advocates and riled industry backers.

Among LeBlanc’s most vocal critics are several Republican lawmakers who are questioning the FCC’s recent spate of aggressive enforcement actions and are demanding a federal investigation into the FCC’s enforcement arm. 

On the flip side, LeBlanc does have friends in D.C. They include a pro-consumer group known as Public Knowledge. In June 2015, Public Knowledge applauded the FCC’s $100 million fine against AT&T for misleading consumers about its unlimited data plans.

Harold Feld, senior vice president of Public Knowledge, praises LeBlanc and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler for working hard “to regain the public trust that the FCC stands with consumers. For too long, carriers have laughed at the FCC’s consumer protection regulations and viewed the occasional fine as a cost of doing business.”

To be sure, it’s not business as usual at the FCC’s enforcement bureau.

What sets LeBlanc apart from his predecessors at the FCC is that he’s not an FCC veteran. Rather, he’s a former prosecutor. Before joining the FCC, LeBlanc was a special assistant attorney general in California; in that role, he oversaw legal action involving sectors including telecom, cybersecurity and intellectual property. He set up California’s first units dealing with high-tech crime and privacy enforcement. In California, he pressured Google, Apple, Facebook and other tech giants to agree to privacy standards for mobile apps, National Journal says.

Given his prosecutorial chops, National Journal notes that LeBlanc “has little interest in playing nice” at the FCC.

“He is a savvy prosecutor who also knows how to secure agreements with private companies in order to advance the public mission,” says Wheeler, the FCC chairman.

LeBlanc’s arrival at the FCC represents a return to Washington, D.C. Before heading to California, he was an executive-branch attorney at the U.S. Justice Department. The Justice Department gig followed stints at D.C. law firm Williams & Connolly LLP and San Francisco law firm Keker & Van Nest, where his specialties included white-collar criminal defense and complex civil litigation. He also had been an appellate lawyer representative at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

LeBlanc’s academic background is equally impressive as his professional career. He holds degrees from Princeton University, Harvard University and the University of Cambridge.

This article is brought to you by the DMA. Nonprofit Federation Conference takes place Feb. 18-19, 2016, in Washington, D.C. 

Phoenix Rescue Mission’s 18% Year-on-Year Revenue Growth Story

Nonprofit marketing is a different animal. Instead of selling a product, you’re selling a feeling. You want to target an audience that has similar values as you do, and you want to convince them to express those values by giving up their hard-earned cash while getting nothing tangible in return. Except for the feeling and the knowledge that they are doing good in the world.   

For this reason, nonprofit marketing has a lot in common with branding. It isn’t about making a direct sale by presenting a great financial proposition to customers (“Act now and get 30% off!” won’t exactly work here). It’s about making your audience feel the right feelings at the right time and then directing those emotions into actions that will do good for your cause, your organization and the world.

If this sounds hard, that’s because it is.

Many nonprofit marketers have experience in more conventional marketing and public relations, so they are familiar with the emotions involved in advertising. However, the best nonprofit marketers also realize that the rules are very different for them, and the best practices for getting a solid return on advertising spending involves a different mindset.

There are many examples of successful nonprofits who learned how to do this with enormous success. Some, like the Sally Struthers Africa charity commercials of the 1980s or the Sarah McLachlan SPCA commercials of the 2000s, not only go viral but make a permanent impression on the public’s consciousness and popular culture. They are subsequently copied by other nonprofits for years to come.

You don’t need to create a new, impactful TV commercial for your nonprofit to get strong results. One nonprofit in Phoenix incorporated a variety of tactics and approaches using the best practices of the nonprofit industry to grow revenues 18 percent year-over-year.

Phoenix Rescue Mission saw its donor file declining after 60 years of operations. In 2012, retention rates fell to the low 40s with registered donors falling below 19,500. In 2013, the organization began a path to growth, increasing overall revenues despite a declining number of donors, and was able to achieve three years of accelerating growth to reach 18 percent year-over-year growth in revenues in 2015.

At this year’s DMA Nonprofit Federation DC Conference, Phoenix Rescue Mission Director of Marketing and Public Relations Nicole Pena will discuss the marketing objectives and strategies her group employed to save their mission. From 9-10 a.m. February 19, Pena will host a workshop detailing her group’s winning strategy. Join her to see how you can bring buzz, excitement and revenue growth to your nonprofit, whether you’re facing declines or not.   
This article is brought to you by the DMA. Nonprofit Federation Conference takes place Feb. 18-19, 2016, in Washington, D.C.