THE FIFTH ESTATE

In an age where traditional media sources of the “Fourth Estate” no longer have the exclusive on information access, advocacy communications has become its own unique platform for developing and distributing content — a Fifth Estate that sometimes complements, sometimes complicates, and sometimes replaces the conventional role of the press in our society. We cut through the noise — everything we do is a means toward an end that your organization is driving toward. We’re here to:

  • Listen to your needs and build a unique strategy tailored to meet a mutually defined set of goals. We get what you’re trying to do. And why.
  • Clearly and consistently communicate the opportunities and risks inherent in any tactic we consider pursuing, so that you can make an informed decision on how to proceed.
  • Do what we say we’re going to do. We meet deadlines, stick to budgets, honestly assess the landscape of possibilities, and always do our level best to deliver.

OUR TEAM

Scott Ward

Scott has more than 25 years of professional experience in all aspects of communications, including advocacy communications; new media; social marketing; training; risk and crisis communications; national, regional and local media relations; event planning and marketing; message development and testing; media buying; stakeholder outreach; graphic design and desktop publishing; and writing and editing. Scott is frequently called upon to provide staff- and executive-level communications training, sit on panels, run workshops and conduct organizational capacity-building exercises. He is the founder of Fifth Estate Communications, and is an adjunct professor at American University.

Melissa Smith Nilles

Melissa is a versatile communications professional with a decade of experience in agencies, government, politics and management. She began her career in Edelman’s healthcare practice, working on policy reports, events, materials and media outreach for a range of clients. She has consulted for M+R Strategic Services, specializing in non-profit, mission-oriented organizations, and Arc Capital Development, an education venture capital fund. She has also served as communications director for a top-tier U.S. Congressional race and as a chief of staff and office manager in the Hawaii State House of Representatives. Most recently, Melissa worked in management for Navy Federal Credit Union branches in Japan and Hawaii. She holds a B.A. in political science with a minor in journalism from Beloit College, and a M.A. in political management from George Washington University.

Claire S. Gould

Claire is a passionate advocate for social and economic justice who believes smart communication can be a catalyst for real change. She started her professional career at Burness, a mission-driven communications firm that provides support to nonprofits and foundations worldwide. Most recently, she was the senior communications associate at Catholics for Choice, a nonprofit at working at intersection of faith, women’s health, and reproductive justice. In her spare time, Claire volunteers for Collective Action for Safe Spaces, the D.C. Abortion Fund, Washington Women in Public Relations, and Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic, and recently served on the executive committee of the Women’s Information Network (WIN). Claire received her B.A. in English and religious studies with a minor in art from Connecticut College and received a M.A. in strategic communications from the Johns Hopkins University. She earned a copy-editing certificate from the University of California-San Diego.

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