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Bill Paschall on Longevity, Misinformation & Navigating Hyperpartisan Politics

2 min read

Bill Paschall has more than 35 years of experience directing public affairs and public relations initiatives, lobbying and providing strategic counsel for businesses, nonprofits and trade associations. His firm, Paschall Strategic Communications of Little Rock, helps clients navigate the regulatory and legislative maze.

Paschall holds a degree in public administration from the University of Arkansas and a master’s in public affairs from the University of Texas.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known 30 years ago?

Vision, grit and hard work are foundations for success, but to achieve sustained longevity, it is imperative to have a strong team and access to resources. No one achieves success solely on their own.

You were a member of the first 40 Under 40 class. What advice would you give to this year’s class?

Find balance in your work and personal life. To be a healthy successful person, you need joy in both. Mandate fun.

What are the biggest differences in strategic communications today versus before the rise of the internet and social media?

Sorting out fact from fiction. The scourge of social media is the vast amount of mis- and disinformation floating in the ether that communications professionals must sift through in developing effective strategies.

What is an example of an excellent communications strategy after a negative event?

An excellent communications strategy must be timely, transparent, consistent and demonstrate a path forward. The most effective strategies are crafted before a crisis occurs — identifying potential threats and delineating clear roles and responsibilities. Organizations must respond promptly and honestly, take responsibility if at fault and outline specific steps to rectify the situation and prevent a future occurrence. Demonstrating accountability and a commitment to do better goes a long way toward rebuilding trust.

What are the biggest changes you have seen in the state Legislature during your career?

The introduction of hyperpartisan, D.C.-style policymaking. The Legislature has always had divisions, but they were generally along geographical lines, rural versus urban. But today, the big division is along partisan ideological lines. The rhetoric is hotter and the tone more divisive.

The medical marijuana industry started in 2019. As executive director of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, what has surprised you about it?

Many, many things. On the patient side of the coin, the number and diversity of the people using medical marijuana. As Arkansans become educated about the medicinal benefits, both continue to grow beyond early projections. From the industry side, the number of Arkansans willing to invest in the future of medical marijuana. Owners come from all across the state.

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