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
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
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
’All Republicans do not need to be in complete agreement on policies,’
Johnson said. ’But they do need to agree on the messages they
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
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