Kanati Strategies helps clients convey their messages

BY D. SEAN ROWLEY
Senior Reporter
10/28/2019 08:45 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Heather Griffin says her communications business Kanati Strategies allows her to have a career and maximize her time with family. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Heather Griffin, left, and Cheena Pazzo, right, got a chance to visit with Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell at a Tulsa Roughnecks practice near season’s end. Pazzo joined Kanati Strategies as a partner in January. COURTESY
COWETA – When it comes to getting a message to potential customers or clients, a business or organization may not always be certain of which steps to take or what measures will be most effective – or they may not have a dedicated public communications department.

Therefore, they often hire experts who make their living in media messaging to generate sales, create awareness of a service or product or handle bad news. They might hire a firm such as Kanati Strategies, incorporated in 2016 by Cherokee Nation citizen Heather Griffin.

“We work with clients to develop an effective message and ensure that message is heard by the right people,” Griffin said. “Whether it’s implementing a digital strategy, refining your brand, navigating a crisis, raising public support for issues or developing a legislative strategy, we help clients build their business.”

The consulting goals of communication firms, ad agencies and public relations outfits might seem a bit nebulous to those not working in media. Clients often have differing aims, so the more expertise a firm has on staff, the more customers it can help. Griffin said Kanati offers services in marketing communication, government relations and content development with a network of experts. It can be tailored for newspapers, dedicated proprietary publications, digital platforms, blogs or for multiple outlets.

“One of our most recent projects, and of particular interest to Indian Country, was the strategic campaign to support the release of the Oklahoma Native Impact report, an economic study about the impact tribal nations have on Oklahoma’s economy,” Griffin said. “We were able to work closely with the Oklahoma Tribal Finance Consortium and numerous tribal leaders to highlight the many ways tribes support Oklahoma. It was an exciting project for Kanati, and the study became a valuable tool for the recently launched United for Oklahoma campaign.”

The initial spark for Kanati Strategies began as a need for flexibility. Griffin had young children to monitor and her husband was often overseas. She said quitting the job market wasn’t an option.

“I liked to work, but I needed a job that allowed me to work on my time schedule,” she said. “From that need, Kanati Strategies was born. Kanati began with a primary focus on public policy. That was a natural fit. I am an attorney by education, and have always worked in government and community relations. Prior to starting my own consulting company, I was the government relations manager for Cherokee Nation Businesses. Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses were the first two official clients of Kanati Strategies, so it’s probably fair to say Cherokee Nation truly gave Kanati our start.”

Since its incorporation three years ago, Kanati has added to its services and capabilities. In January, Cheena Pazzo joined Kanati as a partner.

“Cheena brought with her two decades of marketing and communications experience,” Griffin said. “Today, we represent tribes throughout Oklahoma and outside the state, nonprofit and tribal health care systems, municipalities, a manufacturing company, a professional sports team and a production company. As for our future, we are working with a retail manufacturing client that has worldwide sourcing partners to launch a continuity program for tribal gaming operations, and we are developing a physician recruiting arm that places physicians at tribal health care facilities.”

Griffin said her Cherokee lineage was instrumental during her journey to become a business owner.

“I have always been very aware of my Cherokee heritage – a line of truly strong and determined Cherokee women made sure I understood where my ancestors came from, and that I should be proud of my Native heritage,” Griffin said. “That strong will and determination, a trait that is common among Natives, was definitely passed down to me, and it has definitely made a positive impact on the business.”

Those interested in learning about the economic impact of Oklahoma tribes can visit oknativeimpact.com and see an example of Kanati Strategies’ work.
About the Author
Sean Rowley was hired by the Cherokee Phoenix at the beginning of 2019. Sean was born a long time ago in Tulsa, where he grew up and attended Booker T. Washington High School as a freshman before moving to Pawnee County and graduating from Cleveland High School in 1987. 

He graduated sans honors from Northeastern State University in 1992 with a bachelor of arts in mass communication with emphases in advertising and public relati ...
david-rowley@cherokee.org • 918-453-5560
Sean Rowley was hired by the Cherokee Phoenix at the beginning of 2019. Sean was born a long time ago in Tulsa, where he grew up and attended Booker T. Washington High School as a freshman before moving to Pawnee County and graduating from Cleveland High School in 1987. He graduated sans honors from Northeastern State University in 1992 with a bachelor of arts in mass communication with emphases in advertising and public relati ...

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