Thursday, August 09, 2007

Lesson for GRCC

I see the voters have rejected for the second time a millage increase for GRCC. It'll be interesting to see the administrative decisions, program cuts, and future communications of the local college is now forced to make.

In spite of an aggressive and tactically diverse PR campaign (see my earlier post), there is a lesson for GRCC in all of this. Building awareness is not necessarily enough. They certainly believed in their message that GRCC is an asset and helps people all over West Michigan, not just students.

But awareness needs to lead to attitude and action. Even if voters were aware of the GRCC message, they apparently didn't change their attitude. That attitude may have been a positive view of GRCC. Or, they may think well of GRCC but didn't think more taxes are necessary. Or they think GRCC made a good case but the tax level of GRCC and everything else is simply too high. It'd be good to know if any research on this was gathered during the campaign.

Finally, even if awareness and attitude objectives were reached, the ultimate action--voting--may have been the trouble here. Being aware and holding a positive attitude mean nothing if enough people reached during the campaign did not get out and vote. That's an old story in politics.

Again, it'd be interesting to see some post-mortem coverage addressing what GRCC knows about this after the second rejection. What was the real problem--lack of issue relevance, poor attitude about GRCC, resistance to tax increases on principle, apathy toward the voting booth? Perhaps folks from GRCC or John Helmholdt could offer an WMPRSA session this coming year. We celebrate the winning campaigns--but it is also instructive to learn together from the times when we don't succeed.

1 comment:

John Helmholdt said...

PR Prof,
You are absolutely right that all the messaging, planning, targeting and public awareness in the world does not always translate into votes - even when it should.

Would be happy to be at a future WMPRSA meeting to discuss. This was a very interesting public relations and political challenge. I would be happy to share all our strategies and tactics that were employed in the short eight weeks we had to ramp up this campaign.