Written by Jesse Childs | Senior Director, Client Accounts
Following the 2022 elections, there have been some key shifts in the federal government that impacts the top priorities of 2023. As Congress welcomes new members and new leadership assignments, we have been evaluating our 2022 campaigns and the political shake-up in Washington to determine the best strategies to engage with the 118th Congress. Biden’s SOTU address made it clear the administration is not willing to negotiate on key issues, and with the GOP’s slim majority in the house they likely won’t have to. Following the unprecedented vote to elect the Speaker of the House, the administration is counting on the GOP’s structure to break, letting them take the political blows on the debt ceiling and other must-pass legislation.
Biden’s SOTU Topic Breakdown
(Take special note of the biggest topics - legislation surrounding these will be the main priority)
As such, we've pulled together our analyses of how the state of public affairs is shifting and what you can do to make an impact this year.
A preference towards one-time spending
The status quo of raising the debt ceiling, continuing resolutions, and using omnibus packages to fund the government shows no end in sight. If you are looking for officials to take action, consider proposing policies focused on one-time or short-term spending. Timing and communications strategy is key here as you want to make an impact without getting caught up in the noise.
The critical nature of the workforce crisis
Regardless of party affiliation, everyone agrees that the workforce shortage is a critical issue to address in 2023. It impacts almost every single sector, ranging from health to education and even public safety. If your efforts can impact the workforce issue in a positive way, make sure to include it in all key messaging and advertising. All lawmakers are on the lookout for ways to fix this issue, especially as Biden’s SOTU made it clear that plenty of new jobs for Americans will be created this year.
PS: We can’t miss this opportunity to keep one of 2022’s top memes rolling into 2023
State-level action vs. Federal-level gridlock
With a longstanding gridlock freezing most federal decisions and Biden’s SOTU providing no end in sight, more activity at the state level is to be expected. In 2022, Five states—Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Utah, and Idaho—plus Washington DC, passed at least half the bills that were introduced. In 2023, this is expected to increase as state lawmakers are dealt a growing list of issues passed on by the federal government. Not only will we see more decisions made at the state level this year, but these states also have the potential to become future supporters of federal policy pushes in coming years. Using this bottom-up approach, you are more likely to achieve quicker results at the state level while planting the seed for longer-term initiatives and goals at the federal level.
Ad targeting - direct callouts
When considering the advertising environment in the policy and issues advocacy world, the Think Big team has seen continued success in extremely targeted campaigns that include direct call-outs of decision-makers and more. Using images, names, etc., of the ad targets in the creative has shown drastically higher results, especially when paired with narrowed, policy influencer audience data (reach out to us for more info on this!). For videos, adding a banner with the call-to-action adds another element to the direct call-out. Think Big launched an ad campaign where we addressed lawmakers specifically with a call to action banner (see example below) and saw ~57% increase in engagement rate when compared to ads only addressing the issue in the video content.
Watch video here: https://youtu.be/OPnHKXQRp64
With a split Congress, the ability to get any meaningful legislation passed will be difficult over the next 2 years. When considering an advocacy campaign this year, there are three main questions to ask:
Can we engage and get legislation passed at the state level vs spending time and resources at the federal level?
Even with congressional gridlock, are there opportunities to disrupt and drive awareness on our issue priorities while also raising our brand’s profile?
Can we create a more meaningful campaign using first-party policy influencer audience data? How specific can we make our messaging?