Crossfire Research: PAC and Grassroots Message Testing and Implementation


As one TSG client exclaimed : “Dr. Rhoads is smart, and Amy has grassroots and PAC street smarts, which is a winning combination!” The combination of Dr. Rhoads’ scientific expertise and Amy Showalter’s real world grassroots advocacy and PAC implementation strategies ensure that clients can execute the research findings to accelerate their results.

Forensic Research & Analytics

Do your stakeholders say they support your PAC, your advocacy initiatives, or your organization, yet don’t engage in the behaviors that show support? Do you know which messages get traction with your audiences? Do you know the messages that are the most and least powerful? Certain situations lend themselves to optimal influence and can predict behaviors…do you know those situations in your organization?

Our approach gives you a competitive advantage. Simple methods of research are available via your social media and web analytics that are built into the platform you are using. Everyone is using those methods, so you don’t have an advantage. The competitive advantage comes from investing in more timely research, with deeper analysis. Our analysis reveals emerging patterns and relationships so that you can understand what’s happening in a more complete and comprehensive way.

Typical client research results uncover an anverage of eight independent variables that predict future behaviors of PAC prospects, grassroots advocates and elected officials. Our PAC clients report that implementation of our research findings not only leads to improved fundraising results, but also accelerates their PAC fundraising results.

Learn more about how you can benefit from our Forensic Research & Analytics here.

Crossfire Research

If you haven’t already, sometime your organization will face an uphill influence challenge. You may find your message is not resonating with who you need to influence, your audience is hostile, your grassroots advocates are fatigued, and you are being outspent and outnumbered. The Crossfire methodology helps organizations with tough influence challenges to get “unstuck” and reach their strategic goals through accurately framing messages in a way that creates an emotional allegiance to their cause. The Crossfire approach is a communication technology developed specifically for difficult influence challenges by social scientist Dr. Kelton Rhoads. It recognizes that your messages must compete in an information space against opposing communications. Instead of testing messages in what Dr. Rhoads calls the “focus group vacuum,” Crossfire testing seeks to identify advocacies that can obtain maximum attraction in a competitive and hostile atmosphere.

Proprietary TSG Research

We are curious about excellence in grassroots advocacy, Political Action Committee and government relations productivity and influence. Thus, we regularly initiate proprietary research projects to uncover best practices relative to grassroots persuasion, fundraising, and volunteer management.

Our findings have positioned us as thought leaders who go beyond what is commonly known and practiced to the behaviors that grow the roots of success.

All research findings are available in interactive workshops and keynote presentations, and some are available on our product page. Each report and / or workshop includes Amy’s practical, do-it-now strategies for overcoming the challenges revealed in the research findings.

The Grassroots Influence Pulse™ (2014, 2016, 2019) – This is the only research of its kind that provides guidance for the grassroots advocacy profession on what tactics are being used, and most important, the response (or lack of response) of legislators toward your influence attempts.

PAC CSI: Uncovering the Behaviors that Lead to PAC Fundraising Success – We all have read PAC benchmarking surveys, but what are the behaviors of senior leaders, PAC board members, recruiters, and staff that lead to fundraising success? We share this in this unique project with PAC’s that raise an average of over $850,000.00 per election cycle.

“The Underdog Edge: What It Is, How to Get It, and Why Your Organization Needs it for Influence Success” – Findings from research with “ordinary” citizens who changed a legislator’s mind, and the lawmakers whose minds were changed, that is the basis for Amy’s book. It will give you new ways to get powerful legislators on your side. (The advocacy version of Malcolm Gladwell’s “David and Goliath” book.)

“Nice is Not a Lobbying Vice” – Can powerful lobbyists be nice? From my research with the members of the Association of Government Relations Professionals (formerly the American League of Lobbyists), find out who the nicest lobbyists are, what they do to get that reputation, and how it correlates with effectiveness and, yes, power (it does, by the way).

“Persuasion Tactics that Change Legislator’s Minds: The Fortune ‘Power 25’ Influence Inventory” – This is the only research of its kind to look at successful and unsuccessful influence campaigns by examining over 70 influence variables. From those, we know what causes an opposed or undecided legislator to change his or her mind and move in your direction.

How to Keep, Find and Motivate Quality Grassroots Volunteers: The Fortune “Power 25’ Grassroots Benchmarking Inventory” – Again, the only research with this elite group of associations that uncovers what groups from the AARP, to the NRA, to the U.S. Chamber, to the AFL- CIO have in common when it comes to engaging their most productive grassroots volunteers.

“Preventing and Curing Issue Fatigue: How to Keep Your Grassroots Rock Stars Engaged in Your Cause” – We took four years of workshop participant responses with over 900 “varsity” advocates to find out what causes them to burn out, and how to prevent issue fatigue.

“Winning Hearts and Minds: Attitudes Toward Political Involvement” – Find out if your obstacles when it comes to PAC fundraising and grassroots involvement are similar or different than your peers. We also have data from PAC prospects why they do or don’t contribute to their organization’s PAC. Hint: they are giving to political causes, just perhaps not to your cause.