This week Cord interviewed Brian Phillips, the Vice President for Communications at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Cord & Brian discussed launching a policy tour of Texas, integrating polling into your organization, and how TPPF took on a recent property tax reform effort.

Policy Tour

  • Bringing political campaign experience to the policy world
  • How TPPF took its show on the road and toured Texas with policy experts.
  • Getting local or state press to cover events focused on policy
  • How TPPF chooses a venue, format, and subject for each of its policy tour stops
  • Inviting a state rep to these stops to increase audience engagement
  • Streaming events live
  • Limiting analysts to only three slides for their presentations
  • Critiquing presentations after the facts and continuously improving
  • How to plan a tour like this
  • Managing town-hall-style presentations
  • Money, manpower, and message
  • Offering an exclusive to local papers
  • Using polling to measure the effectiveness of the tour

Polling & Messaging

  • Writing poll questions that tell you something useful, rather than confirming your priors
  • Digging into polling cross tabs to find out where an issue is resonating or with what group of people
  • Integrating polling and messaging into your organization
  • Using Facebook for quick-and-dirty message testing
  • Selling policy experts on changing messaging by using data

Property Tax Reform Campaign

  • Policy issue campaigns are all about following the issue, reacting to news, and nuturing the messaging along the way
  • Phases: public education, creating activitists, mobilizing activitists
  • Polling helped to establish the “intensity” of this issue for voters
  • Polling also showed that any reform needed to result in lower taxes, not just slowed tax growth or a different arrangement
  • Creating a property tax calculator that would show voters their tax bill for the next 10 years
  • Crafting poll questions to get real data, not just virtue signaling
  • How releasing the results of a poll shifted the nature of the property tax reform plan
  • Getting started with polling by using it on an issue where you’re simply stuck

Brian’s book recommendation: Damage Control (Revised & Updated): The Essential Lessons of Crisis Management by Eric Dezenhall.

Brian shouts-out Illinois Policy Institutes‘s news-focused approach to policy and the Foundation for Government Accountability‘s communication’s team as great examples of successes in marketing good public policy.

Brian also advocated trying new things, even if those things are only new to you. R&D can mean “rip-off and duplicate.”

Parting wisdom: there’s no such thing as “the general public.” You must have an audience in mind with everything you write or create.

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