Twenty years after Paul Bradshaw launched Southern Strategy Group as a one-person shop in Tallahassee, the top-tier firm is getting a new name and new look.
But the firm’s dedication to its clients and communities remains, as does its desire to innovate within the influence industry.
“As we celebrate crossing the 20-year mark for our firm, we are changing our name to reflect our broader mission in the next decade, one that includes our core business of lobbying but also other service lines,” said Bradshaw, the chairman of what is now called The Southern Group.
“We see traditional face-to-face advocacy as the ongoing core of effective governmental relations, but we also recognize that other services like digital media, public relations, and polling are also critical elements in the sphere of influence that surrounds key decision-makers in government.”
Seth McKeel, the Tampa managing partner for the firm, said several factors, including the firm’s 20th anniversary, the fast-paced environment and the demand for new services, prompted the strategic change.
The firm knows a thing about successes — and about the need to innovate. As the influence landscape has evolved over the years, so has The Southern Group.
Recognizing the importance of the digital landscape, the firm tapped into new and emerging resources on behalf of its clients.
Deno Hicks, the firm’s Jacksonville managing partner, said that as The Southern Group thought about what it meant to deliver results to its clients, it became evident a “fresh innovative approach” was in order and they had “just the team to bring it.”
The firm sought inspiration from their lobbyists, who Rachel Cone — the Tallahassee managing partner at The Southern Group — said are “ some of the most accomplished, most experienced professionals to have ever worked in state and local government or other parts of the political process.”
“We hire the best, and we needed a brand that reflected that. It is our team that sets us apart from our competitors,” Cone said. “It drives everything we do: how we work together for clients, how we develop solutions to some of the largest issues facing our state, and how we continue to build on the legacy that began for us 20 years ago.”
Cone’s statement is backed up by the firm’s most recent addition, Erin Rock, who is a veteran of three Governors’ administrations and the Florida House.
Cone added that the team is excited about the changes happening and ready to blaze new trails in the industry.
“They have built this remarkably successful firm over the last 20 years, and there’s an infectious enthusiasm in every office about our outwardly focused and innovative vision for success over the next 20 years,” she said.
The Southern Group’s team members aren’t the only ones excited about the change. Oscar Anderson, the Orlando managing partner, said team members across the state have been letting clients know about the rebranding efforts and vision for the future. Anderson said the response has been overwhelmingly positive, and clients are excited about the vision and the team’s enthusiasm.
Moreover, Miami Managing Partner Nelson Diaz said the firm’s “track record of innovation has been a hallmark of our extraordinary success over the past 20 years.
“Today, clients throughout The Southern Group network recognize that legislative, political and government churn across all levels is at an all-time high,” he said. “Additional service offerings and, candidly, a refreshed look at how we achieve success for our clients will only make for an even stronger next 20 years as we perfect our record as the go-to brand for government consulting services.”
Bradshaw said the new name signals the firm’s further evolution in the influence business.
“We pride ourselves on leading transformation in the lobbying industry, and one only needs to look at our past success as evidence of our influence,” he said. “This repositioning effort better communicates our vision to continue to redefine the business and grow and expand our impact for clients in a process that is becoming more and more technology-centric.”
The Southern Group has consistently placed among the top firms in the state as far as quarterly compensation. In the second quarter of the year, which included the second half of the 2019 Legislative Session, it could have earned as much as $5.92 million in pay across its dozens of lobbying contracts.
Its place in the rankings is due in no small part to the diversity of its clientele.
The Southern Group represents interests across the spectrum. Its roster of clients not only includes some of the largest businesses in the state such as U.S. Sugar and Darden, but some of the most well-known companies the world over, including Apple and Motorola. The Southern Group also lobbies on behalf of several of local governments, a couple pro sports teams and a handful of colleges and universities, putting its lobbyists in the center of nearly every major policy discussion Legislative Session after Legislative Session.