Services | Third Oak Associates

By: Third Oak Associates  09-12-2011

Third Oak Associates offers consulting services built around three pillars: strategy, communications and advocacy.


Strategy is the foundation of any project, small or large. Any strategy must answer the simple questions: What are we trying to get done? What is our overall approach? How do we plan to win?

Strategy is about choices and if you don't pause, take a breath and consciously consider the choice you are making, you will be acting on impulse or habit.

Third Oak Associates delivers a structured and practical approach to strategy development, flexible enough to accommodate situational needs.

Our most fundamental advice is to give yourself the gift of time to plan. You don't always need a lot of time and you certainly don't want to over think a strategy.

A small scale example illustrates the thought: If you are giving a twenty minute presentation and you only need an hour to pull together your materials, give yourself the gift of five minutes to think about your strategy. Just back up for a moment and stop thinking about how you will make a specific point or whether your PowerPoint slides will dissolve or spin.

Think, about simpler questions. Why am I doing this? What is the outcome I'm hoping for? Who is the audience? What does success look like for me and for the audience? What don't they know that I want to introduce them to? Are they already with me on some points and not on others? How can I be most effective in achieving my objectives and theirs?


Third Oak Associates offers reputation management and communication services across organizations: communication planning, brand development, marketing, corporate, community and PR communications, media relations, crisis and issues media training. We offer capability from program management to executive coaching. Here are a few of our beliefs about communications:

  • This is not easy. Look how much truly dreadful communication there is in the world despite how important we all say it is. Interpersonal, professional, corporate, public — all forms of communication are challenging. Acknowledging the challenge means you will apply an appropriate level of resources.
  • Anyone can do it well. Professional communicators cringe when they hear this, but although it is a challenge, the process behind communicating well is simple and anyone and any organization can improve their communication dramatically and in a hurry. Not everyone can write a compelling op-ed column, but everyone can communicate a lot better with a little bit of thought and the right tools.
  • Communication rewards the communicator. Good communication is not its own reward (although it can be gratifying indeed). Communicating well delivers real, meaningful results.
  • Listening is the foundation. Here's the secret to all great communications; at some point in the process, somebody listened well. Great communications have the audience in mind.


There are many ways to fail when an organization advocates for policy or regulatory change or in favor of the status quo, and there are some foundations for success. The cost of poor quality is extremely high in the advocacy arena, so it is worth doing right. These are some of the fundamentals that drive successful advocacy:

  • Be honest. If you aren't, stop right now. (And don't call Third Oak Associates. Thank you.)
  • Be an expert. If you aren't, you can rent one. There are experts available no matter what the subject area.
  • Be informed about the process. If you aren't, lots of people are. They can help you get your message into the right channels at the right time.
  • Be creative. Help is available. Advocacy is all about the art of the possible. Imagination and diverse thinking are your friends. Find a win for the other side too.
  • Be reasonable. Audacious targets and timelines are for your marketing program.
  • Be empathetic. Your story is important and you believe it and care about it. But those group you are trying to influence have jobs to do and stakeholders other than you. People ultimately make the choices. Relationships are key so really listen to understand the perspective and drivers of others.