House GOP turns to DC pros in push to gain high ground

WASHINGTON, DC: The House GOP has turned to Washington’s PR pros for advice on how to improve the party’s positioning during a critical election year.

WASHINGTON, DC: The House GOP has turned to Washington’s PR pros for advice on how to improve the party’s positioning during a critical election year.

WASHINGTON, DC: The House GOP has turned to Washington’s PR pros

for advice on how to improve the party’s positioning during a critical

election year.



At a retreat held last week by the House Republican Conference, a number

of top communicators shared their insights about what the Republican

party must do to gain the high ground during the coming year.



One of the participants, APCO SVP and political director Mike Johnson,

said he believes that the GOP legislative agenda is basically sound. He

noted, however, ’Republicans let policy drive communications, while the

Democrats let communications drive policy. The GOP needs to find a happy

median.’



According to political analyst Stuart Rothenberg, the GOP PR strategy

appears to be somewhat in flux at the moment. Rothenberg said that the

Democrats seem to have the upper hand right now because they have

presented a united front on issues such as education, Social Security

and healthcare reform.



’The impression they’re giving is that they know what they want to do

and where they want to go,’ Rothenberg explained.



One discussion focused on how the GOP should communicate hot-button

issues.



’All Republicans do not need to be in complete agreement on policies,’

Johnson said. ’But they do need to agree on the messages they

deliver.’



Another dialogue, facilitated by ad executive turned South Carolina

congressman Jim DeMint, took a big-picture look at the GOP’s image.

DeMint credited the party for working hard on legislative strategy, but

contended that its leaders need to think harder about developing an

effective communications strategy. ’Too often Democrats speak to the

heart,’ an associate close to DeMint said. ’Republicans speak to the

brain.’



Besides Johnson, other conference participants included APCO director of

strategic communications B. Jay Cooper, Porter Novelli senior counselor

and syndicated columnist Tony Blankley, political consultant Bill

Greener and Business Roundtable communications director Johanna

Schneider. Each is well known to GOP party leaders, having spent years

working in politics before joining their respective PR firms or trade

associations.



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