Case Study:

Promise of Justice Initiative

The Promise of Justice Initiative is a Louisiana-based nonprofit working to restore justice to people imprisoned on the basis of a harmful but little-known practice: non-unanimous juries.

The situation

In 2020, GPS Influence was retained by PJI to help shape the narrative around non-unanimous juries, raising awareness of their racist origins and continuing impact while building support for the need to provide relief to the people still suffering its harms.

Until recently, Louisiana was one of just two states that allowed people to be convicted of serious offenses with a less-than-unanimous jury. Devised by white supremacists at the dawn of the Jim Crow era to make it easier to convict Black defendants, the non-unanimous jury rule exemplified systemic racism in action. A ballot initiative and subsequent court ruling outlawed the practice, but did not apply retroactively to people serving final convictions.

Our approach

PJI faced interlocking imperatives and working with PJI’s team, GPS developed an integrated communications plan for the Jim Crow juries campaign that included earned, owned, shared, and paid strategies. 

To garner earned media attention, we pitched local and national media outlets, held virtual press conferences at key milestones in the campaign, and devised news hooks, including a report that compiled statistics and stories of people still imprisoned due to Jim Crow jury convictions. 

This included high-profile placements in 60 Minutes +, USA Today, NPR, Mother Jones, and PBS Newshour; and an op-ed in the Daily Beast

To build awareness with national progressive audiences online, we hosted a Facebook Live event with award-winning author and activist Clint Smith and created an animated explainer video that provided a primer on this outrageous but largely unknown practice. The video was extremely popular, garnering approximately 23,700 views and just over 2,000 engagements.

Finally, when the Supreme Court failed to provide relief to these individuals, our attention turned to the State Capitol, where we reached lawmakers through targeted digital ads.

The results

As a result, journalists began using the term “Jim Crow” juries to describe the practice, and we placed several high profile stories about PJI’s work.

  • 7 high-profile stories from 31 national press hits shifting the narrative 
  • 5 virtual events reaching approx. 10,200 viewers
  • Facebook Live event with best-selling author and activist Clint Smith reaching approx. 4,400 viewers
  • Digital ads reaching approx. 55,500 political insiders and lawmakers in Louisiana state capitol