Ohio Ballot Issues
Steiner PR is an established leader in managing and providing strategic communications counsel to statewide ballot issue campaigns.
In 2017, Steiner PR organized and managed the campaign to defeat State Issue 2, a populist proposal to limit the price the State of Ohio pays for prescription drugs.
Working on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry (PhRMA), Steiner PR led a bipartisan team and directed all facets of the strategy, communications and operations of the campaign. Ultimately, Issue 2 was opposed by the state’s leading medical groups, military veterans organizations, business and labor leaders and the lion’s share of Ohio newspaper editorial boards.
On Election Day, a stunning 79 percent of Ohioans who cast ballots voted against Issue 2, setting an all-time Ohio record of voter opposition to a proposed initiated statute.
In 2015, Steiner PR led a bipartisan coalition in opposition to another citizen’s initiative, this one to legalize the production, sale and consumption of recreational and medical marijuana in Ohio. The pro-marijuana campaign had a big early lead in the polls and outspent the under-funded opposition by 10 to 1. However, the proposal was defeated by nearly two-to-one at the ballot box.
Media Relations is a core offering of Steiner Public Relations. The Steiner PR team has decades of experience handling media outreach for many high profile enterprises. As a result, organizations and people often turn to Steiner PR when making a special announcement. One such example is Hillel International. Hillel engaged Steiner PR to globally deliver the message of its new President. Working on an expedited timetable and with a team of consultants in Washington DC, Steiner PR helped garner national and international attention across multiple communications channels.
Key work included media strategy and planning, sourcing multi-media production and distribution and reaching out to key media and opinion leader targets.
Benefits of Shale Development (API)
The Steiner Public Relations team has years of experience creating effective communications strategies for statewide initiatives. The American Petroleum Institute engaged Steiner PR to launch an educational campaign about the economic benefits of shale oil and gas exploration to Ohio.
Steiner PR directed an effort to connect industry leaders with major metropolitan newspapers as well as those in communities where shale development is happening. We also developed and launched an educational website and weekly e-newsletter, and coordinated a grass tops letter-to-the-editor campaign to demonstrate third party support for shale oil and gas development in Ohio.
Higher Priority for Higher Education
For years, public higher education issues were a low priority at the Statehouse. Elevating higher education on the state’s public policy agenda required a sustained effort.
We made direct and consistent contacts with elected officials, editorial boards and opinion leaders to emphasize the contributions of universities to the state’s economy and quality of life. We also focused attention on the growing collaborations among public and private universities and between universities and business.
In addition, we recommended a structural change that would allow the Chancellor to be in a stronger position to articulate the needs of public higher education as a member of the Governor’s Cabinet. House Bill 2, which passed unanimously in the Senate and with only two negative votes in the House, did just that. Higher education has risen on the public policy agenda, the state higher education funding formula has been revised and tuition increases have slowed dramatically.
Construction Law Reform
For decades, Ohio’s public universities complained that state-mandated restrictions on capital construction projects were costly and inefficient. Years of effort with media and policymakers finally broke through the government’s resistance to change. In 2009, we won the opportunity to institute construction reform as a pilot project in association with Ohio State’s billion-dollar Medical Center expansion. Then in 2011, Steiner PR helped finish the job. Our firm worked with the contracting industry and state administration to convince the legislature to permanently apply reforms to all state-associated projects.
State Issue 1: Drug Offenders Amendment
Facing a well-funded national campaign, which had succeeded in a number of other states, we overwhelmingly defeated a 2002 ballot initiative to change Ohio’s constitution on sentencing drug offenders. We developed a compelling message based on polling and research, devised a strategic plan relying heavily on earned media, carefully integrated limited paid media, and used collateral materials effectively, especially the website. We collaborated with other consultants to create a large, diverse statewide grassroots coalition in opposition, including drug treatment organizations and leaders of both political parties. We succeeded in exposing the initiative’s hidden weaknesses and reversed a widely held perception among key audiences, including the media, that the initiative was unbeatable. The initiative’s 2-1 defeat at the polls positioned Ohio nationally as a firewall against similar measures and none has been introduced since.
PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America)
When the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs began an initiative petition drive to put prescription drug price control legislation before the Ohio General Assembly, we were retained by PhRMA to help manage strategy, execution and communications. The project involved a legal effort to challenge petition signatures. It also included outreach to media and key healthcare stakeholders on the impact of price controls on the development of new drugs. We created a 40-member statewide healthcare access coalition in three months and launched a patient clearinghouse of information about drug assistance programs already offered by the drug industry. Ultimately, these efforts were key to the successful negotiation between the Coalition and PhRMA, which resulted in new legislation and the launch in 2004 of Ohio’s BestRx, a widely available drug discount card program.
Flexible Pavements of Ohio
The asphalt pavement association industry in Ohio retained us to help them maintain their market share of the paving industry and counter an aggressive campaign by the concrete industry to reverse market trends. We organized the roll-out of a next-generation asphalt paving process. “Perpetual Pavement,” by releasing an interactive CD-ROM and video news release, attracting media coverage of roadside news events and garnering follow-up coverage at the regional and national levels. We also produced facts and secured media that emphasized the superiority of asphalt over concrete as a paving material. Flexible Pavements celebrated its 40th anniversary with the achievement of its market goals, while the concrete campaign quietly faded.