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.


Scott Ward

Scott has nearly 30 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.

Courtney Sexton

Courtney is an accomplished writer, editor and curator with more than 10 years of experience in advocacy public relations, communications and outreach; print and digital journalism; and documentary. Courtney is also an active bioanthropological research scientist, exploring the intersections of nature and culture, science and art. She is the Co-founder and Director of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit literary organization, The Inner Loop, Inc., and is the recipient of a community arts grant from the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities.