GOP kicks off PR strategy review for new media age

WASHINGTON, DC: With several key congressional seats up for grabs in November and a major election looming in 2000, GOP consultants are planning to retool their party’s PR strategies and tactics for political campaigns.

WASHINGTON, DC: With several key congressional seats up for grabs in November and a major election looming in 2000, GOP consultants are planning to retool their party’s PR strategies and tactics for political campaigns.

WASHINGTON, DC: With several key congressional seats up for grabs

in November and a major election looming in 2000, GOP consultants are

planning to retool their party’s PR strategies and tactics for political

campaigns.



The National Association of Republican Campaign Professionals (NARCP) is

hosting a conference in Easton, MD, on October 2 and 3 to launch an

’assault on conventional thinking.’



A meeting held nearly 20 years ago in Leesburg, VA saw the GOP establish

the tactics that have proved extremely effective over the last two

decades.



NARCP president Bill Lee recalls the conference as a ’watershed event’

that helped formalize thinking about how strategic messages could be

used - and responded to - effectively.



The upcoming conference will examine how the party’s PR campaigns can

continue to be effective in a communications environment that has

changed drastically over the last two decades.



Likely topics on the group’s agenda include the rise of independent

expenditures (such as advocacy advertising) and the Internet, and the

simultaneous decline of network TV. The group will also discuss how

changes in election law in states such as Texas, which allows early

voting before the scheduled election day, make it harder to plan

political PR campaigns.



Currently, the GOP is riding high in the polls. An August 11-12 Fox News

survey showed voters favoring the GOP over Democrats by a 48 to 36%

margin in generic congressional balloting. But the 2000 election,

boasting a presidential campaign and the hotly anticipated Rudy

Giuliani/Hillary Clinton clash for a New York senate seat, is already

generating attention.



Republican PR strategy since the late 1970s has been premised on

cornering the Democratic opponent as a ’liberal,’ thereby presenting the

GOP as the ideological opposite when it comes to issues such as fiscal

integrity, national defense and social issues. But the political

environment has changed radically, and the ’New Democrat’ agenda makes

it hard to pin the liberal label on Democrats.



Even so, as GOP pollster Jan van Lohuizen suggested, the chances of

rising international instability should increase the saliency of the

GOP’s pro-defense message. And, as always, few voters favor the

imposition of higher taxes.



A key battleground will be younger voters, who will increasingly hold

the key to electoral dominance.



’They don’t read newspapers, and they’re on the Internet more than any

other group,’ said van Lohuizen. He added that the young tend to favor

quality-of-life issues usually associated with Democrats, while also

supporting the fewer taxes/less government agenda commonly identified

with the GOP.



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