Colorado Families for a Fair Wage – a diverse coalition of small business owners, community-based nonprofits, unions and living wage activists – came together to pass Amendment 70 to raise the minimum wage to $12 by 2020. To achieve the campaign’s goal to win at the ballot box, Progressive Promotions developed – and met – three objectives for the campaign’s traditional, earned media outreach:
OBJECTIVE I: USE A WINNING MESSAGE
We helped the campaign craft an effective message based on polling, focus groups and feedback from supporters in the field. Our message had three prongs – “increasing the minimum wage is modest, smart and fair.”
Modest assuaged fears about rural and small businesses’ ability to adapt and adjust to a minimum wage increase, that it was a “reasonable” measure that would implemented “gradually” over several years.
Smart promoted likely positive economic results of raising the wage – workers with more money to spend would boost spending in the local economy, creating jobs and would improve small business’ bottom line by increasing sales decreasing expensive employee turnover.
Fair appealed to working families responding to the fact that no family can make it on full-time minimum wage of less than $300/week; that people working full-time should be able to afford the basics and not live in poverty.
With coaching in person, on the phone and electronically, we were able to consistently move our message to voters through traditional media, social media, door-to-door canvassing and other voter contact tactics.
OBJECTIVE II: DEPLOY 20+ EFFECTIVE MEDIA SPOKESPEOPLE ACROSS STATE
We successfully coached and provided articulate, potent spokespeople to the media throughout the campaign. In addition to campaign leaders, our main messengers included:
Business Owners. Business owners were very compelling messengers, powerful in countering opposition arguments. Restauranteurs, small manufacturers, small shop owners and others were able to make the case that higher wages have positive effects on employee retention, loyalty and productivity, leading to better sales and profit. We were able to leverage their voices in reported articles as well as in op-eds and letters-to-the-editor all over the state.
Workers. We elevated workers’ voices to tell their own stories of working hard at full-time jobs like home health care and security guards yet unable to afford basics like rent, utilities and food. They, like small business owners, were the ones with “skin in the game” and were most effective at making voters understand the real-life implications of raising the wage.
Economists. Credentialed economists all over the state were identified and prepped to engage reporters on key economic data from the state and federal studies, as well as academic research.
OBJECTIVE 3: SECURE POSITIVE TRADITIONAL MEDIA COVERAGE IN TARGETED CITIES
Progressive Promotions secured positive traditional media coverage all over the state, with close to 400 state and national stories published and broadcast. We conducted meetings with all the key political and business reporters who were to cover the campaign several weeks prior to ballot distribution, and also:
Pitched proactive stories all over the state, including Denver, Fort Collins and Durango
Responded to requests across the state, including Denver, Aurora and Grand Junction
Leveraged supportive editorials in Durango, Boulder and Northern Colorado
Placed op-eds in quite a few newspapers, including Denver Business Journal, Glenwood Springs Post Independent and Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.
Progressive Promotions was proud to do our part to inspire inspired Coloradans to pass Amendment 70 to raise the wage to $12 by 2020 – the final results were 1,305,981 (54.3%) to 1,097,784 (45.5%), an almost ten point difference. The best part? Colorado’s hard working families have a better chance to provide a better life for themselves and their children.