Archive for 'Research Commentary'

How to Spend Money on Surveys that Don’t Get Results Part 2

Here’s how to really determine if ads are effective: advertise some products, and don’t advertise others. Then see which sells. All those “advertisements that don’t work” will sell the product. Those that are unadvertised will sit on the shelf. When you ask people why they bought the advertised product, they will mention positive product attributes, but seldom advertising.

No matter if you are selling a message, a request for action, or a PAC contribution, the lesson for government relations professionals is ...

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How to Spend Money on Surveys that Don’t Get Results Part 1

No, that’s not a typo. Although many organizations have the best intentions when it comes to conducting influence campaign research, I’ve seen some rival the “burn rate” of a circa 2000 internet start-up company without persuading their audiences. That results in wasted resources and a credibility hit for the government relations professionals at the scene of the crime.

On a somewhat related note, it reminds me of a comment (and I’m not making this up) at a recent conference where someone ...

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Banish These Words

I always instruct my presentation skills clients to do their best to avoid common clichés and phrases. The goal is to be unique, and when we spew common clichés, we become forgettable. We need to be original to be heard. To that end, one of my favorite web sites is the annual list of banished words published by Lake Superior State University.  Anyone can recommend a word for banishment (is that a word?!), and ...
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Why have a PAC?

This is why…

Innovate to Motivate faculty member Brett Kappel weighs in on new research from Vanderbilt University:

The research finds that corporations gain clear financial benefits when individual employees make political donations.

What they describe in a new research paper is strong evidence that individuals who make political donations – whether at the behest of companies or not – directly benefit businesses in their communities.

“The reason we looked at individual contributions is because it accounts for about two-thirds of all ...

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Mixing Business and Politics

You may have seen the recent research from the University of Tennessee, in which Russell Crook, David Woehr and Sean Lux have found that yes, indeed, mixing business and politics makes good financial sense. Continue Reading →

Amy in the News

I made some predictions in a February 2009 Politico article
on the sustainability of the Organizing for America movement. That led to an interview with  In These Times magazine about my additional thoughts on the enthusiasm gap among Democratic voters in the 2010 election.
Bottom line? The new (first time voters) 2008 Obama voters want immediate gratification, and that’s not reality:
And now, the college students are admitting it:

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How to Prevent Burnout of Your Most Valuable Advocates

If you have a non-stop stream of enthusiastic grassroots advocates who are willing to repeatedly contact lawmakers when you ask, read no further. If you have advocates who consistently leverage their personal legislator relationships for your cause, read no further.

If you don’t, there’s research that reveals what you need to do to keep them interested and motivated (and it has nothing to do with plaques and awards). The surprising results are based on The Showalter Group’s proprietary research with hundreds ...

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Could Corporate New Voter-Drive Initiatives Backfire?

After shunning politics for years, Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, launched a voter registration and education campaign targeted at its 1.3 million employees.

Wal-Mart’s initiative is not without precedent. A growing number of corporations, including Nationwide, ExxonMobil and DaimlerChrysler, have organized in-house voter registration efforts, making it easy for workers to download voter-registration forms and apply for absentee ballots.

But it takes more than handing out a few forms to get people to the polls. Companies thinking that with a little ...

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The Influence Tactics of Fortune’s “Power 25”


It is our interest in excellent government relations programs and “best in class” organizations that inspired our second research project with Fortune magazine’s “Power 25.” The first project focused on how they recruit, retain, and motivate their most productive grassroots advocates.

This research seeks to answer a second vital question: “What influence tactics predict success when attempting to gain legislative support”? We believe the answers are vital, because there are competing mythologies about what works in the legislative influence arena.

For example, ...

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How Your Audience Uses Media Can Impact Decisions about Grassroots and PAC Participation

I have found some outside research that should be of interest to anyone who needs to get the attention of their audience. Some of you may find yourself in this group.

Ketchum, a global PR company, conducted research with USC’s Annenberg Strategic Public Relations Center regarding how consumers use media. Their findings have immediate applications to those of us in the government relations profession, which you will see in my commentary after I outline a couple of the findings.

TSG has been ...

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