The Top Five Ways Companies Can Turn Tax Reform Into Good PR

The Top Five Ways Companies Can Turn Tax Reform Into Good PR

This week, Americans filed their tax returns under an old, outdated system for the very last time.

While public opinion of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 remains underwater, the tax overhaul has enjoyed consistently positive growth in public opinion polling since President Trump signed it into law just before Christmas.

Plenty of that positive growth can be attributed to smart public relations decisions made not just by Washington, but also by the business community. To this day, taxpayers remain open-minded about the new law, giving influencers, opinion makers, and businesses across the country a strong public relations opportunity to capitalize on the legislation’s growing popularity and help define what tax reform means for American voters, consumers, and audiences.

Here are the top five ways firms can capitalize on tax reform in 2018:

  1. Pay it forward. Only days after the bill became law, dozens of major companies announced new raises and bonuses for their employees as a direct result of the historic legislation. In the months since then, countless other firms have followed suit, while others have announced the repatriation of jobs and capital investment to the United States, generating positive earned press for those companies, and garnering them favorable recognition across the country.
  2. Tell your story. By directly informing customers and stakeholders how they intend to pass the benefits of tax reform on to them, firms can win goodwill and stand out from the pack. Small or modest changes in products and services often go unnoticed by consumers; firms that take the time to communicate these changes to customers stand to gain stature and praise in the public eye.
  3. Put your money where your mouth is. Firms that pass the benefits of tax reform on to their employees and customers also have an opportunity to benefit from incorporating their story into any and all paid advertising. The central tenet of paid media is for firms to demonstrate why their product matters to consumers and why it will improve their lives. Passing on savings and benefits or expanding your business to accommodate consumers’ needs are game-changers, and if firms are spending advertising dollars, they should make sure they’re spent on a guaranteed winning message.
  4. Stay on message. Consistency and repetition are key to hammering home a message. Firms that keep up the goodwill by reminding consumers at every opportunity that they are making sure customers, stakeholders, and the public share in the benefits of tax reform will slowly, over time, make a positive impact on how those audiences view their firm.
  5. Share your success. Companies often try to outsource poignant storytelling to paid actors or spokespeople with embarrassing results; consumers can smell a phony from a mile away. Some of the most effective, powerful messages conveyed by companies to the public are told and carried by real people – the folks who had a real, meaningful experience as a result of the tax overhaul. The companies brave enough to tell those stories will reap the benefits of honest advertising and a winning message.

Jamestown Public Affairs – Advocacy. Strategy. Political Insight.

“Roseanne” Gives Advertisers A Blueprint For Connecting with Everyday Americans

“Roseanne” Gives Advertisers A Blueprint For Connecting with Everyday Americans

Two unmistakable trends have plagued television in the Trump era.

The first is that the election of President Trump so incensed coastal elites in Hollywood and New York that it now seems that everything on television – from ad campaigns to the tone of cable news to the very content of TV shows themselves – is tinged with self-righteous anti-Trump political messaging and obviously forced virtue signaling. 

The second trend is a direct result of the first: the hard-left television turn has alienated large swaths of everyday audiences. Today, a whopping 75% of Americans say that they watch television to get away from politics. But Hollywood's insistence on blasting American audiences with liberal messaging has only intensified, creating a disconnect that's led to an across-the-board ratings downturn, leaving television and advertising executives wondering how to best reconnect with American audiences and win back their attention.

One television show is bucking this trend:

"'Roseanne' Revival Premieres to Massive Ratings"

"ABC Boss Admits 'Roseanne' Return Ratings Were a Big Surprise, Even To Them"

"'Roseanne' Revival's Huge Debut Stuns Hollywood, Prompts Soul-Searching"

Those are just some of the headlines that broke last week describing the massive and unanticipated ratings success of ABC's revival of the blue-collar every-family sitcom "Roseanne." The show, which details the everyday exploits of the fictional but all-too-real working-class, Midwestern Conner family, was praised in its heyday for its realistic depiction of working-class life, and returned to network television last week to jaw-dropping ratings.

Once again, the preferences of working-class Americans are giving a great deal of badly needed shock therapy to blue-state coastal elites – and offering them a blueprint for how to best reconnect with everyday Americans in this age of politically oversaturated content. 

While "Roseanne" doesn't run from politics – like millions of Americans, the show's lead character is a self-identifying Trump supporter – it doesn't condescend to audiences or lecture them about why their values or beliefs are wrong. Unlike the self-congratulatory liberal speeches of the Oscars, which led to their lowest ratings in history this year, the political commentary in "Roseanne" is secondary to the family values and warmhearted comedy at the center of the show. The Conner family really does come across as an everyday American family, and no matter their political beliefs, the show treats them with respect and love.

That can hardly be said for the other politically charged content audiences to which audiences are subjected these days.

As they prepared for the 'Roseanne" reboot, ABC wisely advertised the Conners as a "family that looks like us [and] lives like us," and the network successfully delivered a television revival that feels like us. The show's heart-on-the-sleeve Midwestern working-class values and warm, funny, family-centered message proved irresistible once again to American audiences, more than 20 years after the show ended its initial run in 1997. 

Interestingly, this resonated not only with the broad swath of middle-America swing voters who helped propel Donald Trump to the presidency, but with coastal audiences as well. When compared with the premiere of the "Will and Grace" revival, a nakedly anti-conservative program, the ratings for "Roseanne" blew them out of the water in cities such as New York and Los Angeles. This incredible success is expected to drive up the show's already strong advertising rates.

Producers, programmers and advertisers stand to gain from ABC's breakthrough by following their lead, toning down the liberal virtue signaling and focusing on producing content that connects with audiences' hearts. Just because everything seems political these days doesn't necessarily mean everything should be political, and in an era of pervasive politicization, advertisers have a real opportunity to reconnect with audiences by respecting their values and leaving their liberal politics out of it. 

Jamestown Public Affairs – Advocacy. Strategy. Political Insight.

What DC Issue Advertisers Are Doing Wrong.

What DC Issue Advertisers Are Doing Wrong.

Washington, DC is one of the nation’s most expensive media markets, and for good reason: the demographic is high-earning – and more importantly – it contains the vast majority of our nation’s influencers. The nation’s leading influencer – President Trump – is a noted television consumer, and so corporations and causes have taken to the airwaves in droves in efforts to reach him with their message.

But in the mad dash to connect with the most powerful man on earth, a great many of these advertisers skip over two of the most important components of effective advertising: clear messaging and high-quality production.

Some issue advertisers struggle because their advertising fails to effectively speak to the President, Congress or average, everyday Americans. These ads are bogged down by wonky jargon and inaccessible, industry-specific information that’s immensely difficult to grasp in thirty seconds. While well intentioned, they come across about as effectively as the videos that open those boring industry conferences that people only attend for the open bars – not as serious efforts to educate outside influencers and change minds.

No matter the audience, effective ads organize and present information in a clear, concise and creative manner. Rather than trying to demonstrate the importance of their message through raw facts and figures, great ads have a built-in sense of passion and poetry that compels audiences to connect with the message and feel a sense of urgency. Striking that balance when crafting an ad campaign can make all the difference.

Too frequently, DC-based issue advocacy campaigns are also hobbled by poor production. President Trump was the executive producer and host of one of the most successful reality television shows in history, “The Apprentice,” which was nominated for several Emmys during its run. He understands how good production happens and what it looks like – which was why, when it came time to shoot the ads for his Presidential campaign, our team hired the crew that previously lit him on “The Apprentice.”

Interest groups understandably don’t want to blow the budget on fancy film shoots, but if a qualified prospective employee walked into your office with a wrinkled shirt and disheveled appearance, followed by one who is equally qualified but dressed far more professionally, which candidate would you be inclined to hire? The same is true for advertising; advertisers and interest groups can have the best message in the world, but if they don’t take the production process seriously enough, the power of that message will be severely undercut.

Today, advertisers have an unprecedented opportunity to cut out the middlemen in $4,000 suits crawling the streets of DC and get their issue and their message in front of the most important influencer in the country. But to best communicate their message, they are going to have to put their old practices behind them and instead focus on clear messaging and serious production.

Otherwise, they run the risk of their media buy running dry and their message falling on deaf ears.

Jamestown Public Affairs – Advocacy. Strategy. Political Insight.

Jamestown In the Headlines

Jamestown In the Headlines


At Jamestown, we believe in crafting creative campaigns that put the clients’ story first. But sometimes, digging a little deeper and taking a closer look can make all the difference.

Here are just a few of the headlines and stories that Jamestown’s political and public affairs pros have made so far this election cycle.

Nothing about the way Team Trump made TV ads was normal.”
Our CEO Larry Weitzner spoke with Chris Cillizza of CNN and the Washington Post about the “high-energy, high-impact” process behind crafting the groundbreaking ads that helped deliver the 2016 election for Donald Trump.

Steve Mnuchin will deliver a Republican win on tax reform.”
Jamestown Partner Barney Keller correctly predicted in The Hill that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin would play a front-and-center role in helping President Trump and congressional Republicans secure a historic legislative achievement on taxes.

Surge of female congressional candidates pits women against women.”
Writing in The Observer, Jamestown’s Vice President of Public Affairs Candice Greaux sized up the electoral battles being duked out by a historic number of women candidates across the county.

Chuck Schumer’s shutdown fell apart when the mainstream media refused to shield Democrats.”
Jamestown Content Manager Dylan Gallimore sounded off in the Washington Examiner about Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer’s attempt to shut down the government over DACA.

Jamestown Public Affairs – Advocacy. Strategy. Political Insight.