Bipartisan consulting agency SmithWaterhouse Strategies formed

Bipartisan consulting agency SmithWaterhouse Strategies formed

December 12th, 2012 by Ellis Smith in Business Around the Region

Albert Waterhouse

Robin Smith

Photo by Patrick Smith/Times Free Press.

What do strategy consultants do?

• Political consulting

• Strategic planning

• Market research and analysis

• Focus groups

• Media coaching

• Reputation management

• Integrated digital marketing

• Public advocacy

• Grassroots/coalition mobilization

• Message development

• Crisis planning and management

• Executive speechwriting and speakers' bureaus

Source: SmithWaterhouse Strategies

Robin Smith

Robin Smith has served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican party, acted as Tennessee Human Rights Commissioner and founded Rivers Edge Alliance, which consults in the healthcare, energy and nonprofit sectors. Smith also works as an opinion columnist for the Chattanooga Free Press editorial page.

Albert Waterhouse

Albert Waterhouse founded Waterhouse Public Relations in 1992 after working on local, state and national political campaigns. Since then, he has used his political skills in the business field, working for clients around the world.

The Mayans may be right. Prepare for the worst.

In a sign that the apocalypse could occur on schedule this December, Republican Robin Smith and Democrat Albert Waterhouse have together formed a new consulting agency, SmithWaterhouse Strategies.

Smith, a Republican strategist who mounted an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2010, will maintain her focus on project management, while Waterhouse -- a staunch Democrat and well-known political consultant -- will continue his work in public relations and crisis management.

The difference is that now, they'll be working toward the same goals.

"Regardless of how we feel personally, you cannot get things done without bringing all options to the table," Waterhouse said.

Smith agreed with her political opponent.

"Congress should take heart if two partisan nemeses in Chattanooga can come together," she said Tuesday.

The new consulting agency will help private companies and nonprofit organizations plan, prepare and promote their big-picture communications with consumers and others, from the first media meeting to the final press release, according to the bipartisan business.

"If there's a need and they don't know how to approach it, that's where we come in," Smith said. "There are occasions where simple marketing will do, but you're seeing a more sophisticated need for a generated outcome that's more than just an immediate thing."

Those generated outcomes often involve extensive research, large numbers of contacts as well as quiet conversations, Waterhouse said. In fact, the partners say they'll try to stay below the radar.

"Sometimes a company wants to be very loud and aggressive, but we can often bring solutions that are quiet and positive," he said.

Waterhouse, who says he learned the public relations trade "in the trenches," said both he and Smith expect additional clients to emerge as political, regulatory and social changes continue to shake the U.S. business community.

"When things are changing so fast, one thing that does bring up is crisis issues," Waterhouse said. "We're able to take a product or service and be able to see around the corner before you get to that corner."

The pair plan to handle 80 to 90 percent business clients, with the rest political. They don't plan to register as lobbyists, though they could hire lobbyists if necessary.

"You can influence opinion and decision making without lobbying," Waterhouse said.

Though they're joining forces, they plan to retain their separate business interests. Waterhouse Public Relations will maintain its 10 employees, and Smith's health care, energy and nonprofit consulting agency, Rivers Edge Alliance, will maintain five contractors. But depending on client interest, they may hire additional staff in January, Waterhouse said.

Contact staff writer Ellis Smith at esmith@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6315.