Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, speaks to Douglas Quenqua about influence, media, and politics.
PRWeek: Your group is buying a lot of media time to fight the Democrats on healthcare reform. What states are you focused on?
Tim Phillips: We've been in states like Arkansas, Virginia, Montana, Indiana, Nebraska. You want to influence different parts of the country because that has a ripple effect. It's not perfect. We're not in New England or California now. But if possible, we try to spread it out.
PRWeek: Have you conceded New England and California to the Democrats?
Phillips: Those are really expensive places to be. California is the biggest state in the country. The Boston market is just very expensive. Our dollars are not infinite, so we have to look at where our dollars will go a long way.
PRWeek: What are your primary platforms for getting your message out? Are you using social media?
Phillips: We have a national TV ad campaign. Sometimes that gets most of the coverage because that's how it works with TV. But we've had rallies in Helena, MT; Jonesboro, AR. We do events all over, the same states where we are running TV ads, and the crowds are large. We tell them what's going on. We educate them.
PRWeek: Where do you get news about healthcare?
Phillips: We have a number of think tanks that have done good work on following the healthcare issue. Heritage does really good work. Their information is helpful. Cato is as well. We do follow the dailies that cover Washington for some of the legislative updates.
PRWeek: Is TV still the best medium for influencing big groups?
Phillips: It's the fastest way to quickly educate. I don't know that it's absolutely the most efficient, but it's certainly the fastest. As far as inspiring passion in people, I think the in-person grassroots events are hard to beat. There's an immediacy there. That speaker is walking through what's at stake. So for genuinely having people become passionate, that's probably the best.