The Zoldak Agency congratulates client on being named finalist for 2017 Templeton Freedom Award

We congratulate our client, the Beacon Center of Tennessee, on being named a finalist for the Templeton Freedom Award, which will be awarded on November 8th.

We are thankful to have been a part of the “End the Hall Tax” effort by leading the digital and social media advertising campaign, which was noted for being, “…one of the most sophisticated digital advertising projects in the liberty movement to date.”

Beacon Center scored a major victory with the repeal of the Hall Tax in the wake of its compelling research and communication campaign,” said Atlas Network CEO Brad Lips. “This is the model of effective public engagement that should be studied by others who want to rein in tax-and-spend governments.

Awarded since 2004, the Templeton Freedom Award is named for the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton. The award annually honors his legacy by identifying and recognizing the most exceptional and innovative contributions to the understanding of free enterprise, and the public policies that encourage prosperity, innovation, and human fulfillment via free competition. The award is generously supported by Templeton Religion Trust and will be presented during Atlas Network’s Freedom Dinner on Nov. 8 in New York City at the historic Capitale. The winning organization will receive a $100,000 prize, and five additional finalists will receive $25,000 prizes.

To read more about the Beacon Center case study and the Freedom Award, click here.

Quoted in the media: Sue Zoldak on women in PR

Sue Zoldak is quoted in the Business Insider here on why women may have an upper hand in PR, as well as her support of women Republicans running for office. Sue is the Communications Chair of RightNOW Women PAC.

"Women are slightly better listeners and that sounds like the opposite of your role as a communications person, but in order to effectively counsel someone on communication you have to really understand that person," Zoldak said. "I think women are more open to having a more intimate and emotional connection with someone at work than men are."


Read the full article.

The Zoldak Agency and the Hall Tax: Client campaign inspires

The “Beacon Center repeals the Hall Tax” campaign is a finalist in five categories in the 2017 Reed Awards, including Best Public Affairs Campaign, Best Advocacy Social Media Campaign, and Best Online Advertising Campaign.

The most crystalline political lesson of 2016 is, perhaps, that no politician or issue can survive without the support of average Americans. As the Zoldak Agency looks back over the last year, our wonderful clients, and their many proud accomplishments, this lesson stands out; not the least because the Wall Street Journal touted one of the Zoldak Agency’s 2016 digital advocacy campaigns as living proof of it.

In “The Spoils of the Republican State Conquest,” the Wall Street Journal attributes the success of state issue campaigns waged, won, and weighed by Republicans in 2016 to campaign strategies that emphasized communicating with average Americans. The Beacon Center of Tennessee’s campaign to repeal the state’s Hall Income Tax is singled out in the WSJ piece as an example of why communications strategies have evolved to speak to the public instead of just elected officials. An article in the American Spectator also lists the repeal of the Hall Tax as one of it’s top five “most exciting policy victories” for the little guy in 2016.

What is the Hall Tax? After years of trying various strategies to educate the public about the Hall Tax, Beacon’s own polls found that only 17 percent of Tennesseans even knew about it. Existing for years as an asterisk to Tennessee’s proud claim as an income tax-free state, efforts to repeal the 6 percent tax on investment income were impeded by a public that, when they did know about it, misunderstood it as something only a few, very wealthy Tennesseans must pay. This public misperception meant that even lawmakers who agreed with its repeal felt unable to publicly oppose the tax.

Enter the Zoldak Agency.

Beacon’s repeal effort needed more than a shot in the arm, it needed the Zoldak Agency to lead “what its president called an ‘all-out siege’ on the state’s Hall Tax.” Heading digital advertising strategy for the Hall Tax repeal campaign, the Zoldak Agency changed the way people were talking about the tax and built an educated and engaged community of advocates who joined Beacon in demanding legislative action. And, as the Wall Street Journal wrote, “It did the trick. In May the governor signed legislation that will phase out the Hall Tax by 2022.”

First, a new narrative presented the Hall Tax as “not in the Tennessee Way” and explained that it impacted all Tennesseans by punishing those who work hard and save as well as pushing small businesses and families out of state.

Advancing the use of digital in advocacy. With this new perspective in mind, digital content including videos, ads, social media pages and content, and a micro-site were created. The first weeks of the campaign focused on a football-themed “Tackle the Hall Tax” video that replicated an energetic sports news show and targeted to voters in key legislative districts. As views on the video climbed into the hundreds of thousands, the campaign used a technique called geo-fencing to send 15 second animated videos to state lawmakers and their staffers that began with an update on how many Tennesseans had watched the video. The power of the average American shone through and as the number of people who viewed the video grew, the number of legislators who clicked on the ad grew with it.

Achieving high action rates requires time and patience. Once the public was demonstrably engaged, ad data identified ideal advocates for the campaign to ask to take action, such as sign petitions and email legislators. This strategy of patience – educate, engage, then ask to take action once ideal advocates are identified – not only curates a trusting and involved group of supporters but also saves money by avoiding reaching out to those unlikely to take part. Within just a few weeks, a petition to repeal the Hall Tax garnered 4,500 signatures. When the bill to repeal the Hall Tax went to the state general assembly, the campaign asked the signatories to email their legislators – resulting in an astounding 75,000 total emails sent to Tennessee’s elected officials urging the repeal of the Hall Tax.

What’s next? The Beacon Center’s battle with the Hall Tax is over, but, as the Wall Street Journal notes, there’s many more ahead. Luckily for future issue advocacy campaigns, the success of the Beacon Center Hall Tax campaign is proving a fantastic example in its think-tank community, The State Policy Network, which is a federation of 65 free-market think-tanks located across the United States. “When the network’s think tanks gathered in October to compare notes—what’s working in one place that could be adapted to another?—the Beacon Center presented an hour-long case study. ‘This Hall Tax,’ [Tracie Sharp, president of the State Policy Network,] says, ‘has got people inspired now.’”

Coming soon. Look for more ways that the Zoldak Agency is winning state, multi-state and federal advocacy campaigns for our clients in 2017.

The key to social authenticity? Personas.

Authenticity isn’t just important when buying a signed LeBron James jersey or Christian Louboutin heels, it’s the truest test of any good social media campaign.

Social media users are finely attuned to the authenticity of the millions of posts shared every day on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. It’s important that both the channel and the content you are posting to it are a natural fit, not just to your audience but also to your organization’s own personality: its tone, values, and goals.

Read More

Quoted in the media: Sue Zoldak in The Atlantic

Sue Zoldak was quoted in The Atlantic here as RightNOW Women PAC's Communications Chair, speaking about the importance of downballot elections in 2016.

“A lot of people who normally are very involved in presidential politics are really focused on helping Republicans keep control of Congress,” said Sue Zoldak, the vice chair of communications for RightNOW Women PAC. For Zoldak and RightNOW Women, this means helping more Republican gals win and hold office. Pointing to lawmakers like Senator Kelly Ayotte and Representatives Elise Stefanik and Barbara Comstock, Zoldak asserts, “It’s more important than ever for these women to win these races, just to give that voice to other Republican women and to the conservative movement in general.”

Sue Zoldak explains how the NFL was ill-prepared on Twitter to handle #KroenkeComplaints

If you anticipate producing an emotional reaction in your audience, be prepared to meet them on their terms, and on the platforms they use to vent their frustrations and gloat over their successes.

Twitter is a huge avenue for football fans. Six of the top ten tweeted sports events of 2015 were football games, and Super Bowl XLIX was the top-tweeted event of all television programming in 2015, and the most tweeted-about sports event of all time.

So, it makes sense that football fans would take to Twitter to express their outrage at the recent relocation of the St. Louis Rams, inspiring viral hashtags such as #KroenkeComplaints and #staySTL.

It also would have made sense for the NFL and Rams owner Stan Kroenke to meet their audience on their own playing field online. Instead, officials resorted to a “duck and hide” strategy that cost them the opportunity to build stronger rapport with fans and control the conversation around its sensitive relocation decision.

Read the full story here:

Why launch a grassroots action plan?

Your organization has many moving parts – likely media outreach, fundraising, events, member relations, website content management and more. Ultimately, all of these activities support your core mission. That mission is to effect public policy decisions. It is important to take a moment to ask yourself: Is your organization absolutely as effective as it could be in achieving your mission?

Read More

4 foundations of a winning issue advocacy campaign

A winning issue advocacy campaign presents the issue in a way that resonates with the audience’s own self-interests, while keeping the overall message in line with the organization’s ultimate mission. Such a campaign reflects a desire to create a mutually beneficial relationship that, over time, achieves tangible benefits for both parties. How does an organization achieve this?

Read More

Quoted in the media: Sue Zoldak in New York Magazine

Sue Zoldak is quoted in New York Magazine here, commenting on the future of Congressman Aaron Schock post-scandal.

There’s no job today that doesn’t need someone who is good at connecting with people, where you don’t need good people skills or charisma; there’s no profession where those things would be un-valuable,” says Sue Zoldak, a crisis management expert. “I think that the world’s wide open to him.” 

What other are saying about The Zoldak Agency

"Sue is one of the very best public affairs and advertising executives in the issue advocacy and social media arenas, both inside-the-beltway and nationwide.  Under her adept and proven leadership, she runs a team that creates and executes integrated campaigns using award-winning advertising, media relations, coalition building, grassroots mobilization and new media tactics to help her clients win often-heated political and legislative battles and ultimately sway public opinion.  She's the go-to for many of the best and brightest in the industry, as her advice has been proven time and again to be invaluable."

-- Mike K., Director of Business Development, Major Advertising Network


"Sue has become a go-to person in both the issue advocacy and social media world. Her knowledge of the industry and its recent developments as well as her willingness to share this experience make her a valuable resource. And on top of it all, Sue's clients and reps love to work with her."

-- Alex T., COO, Digital News Publication


"Like Superman, Sue Zoldak has x-ray vision. She is able to see through whatever you think you want and deliver all of that plus the things you didn't even think of but would have thought about afterwards. Sue is my secret weapon in accomplishing amazing results which make us all look great.

Sue has a keenly tuned 6th sense that helps direct her own team to work seamlessly with others. She never misses an opportunity to dig a little deeper when discussing a potential project which often helps uncover additional goals and deliverables. As a marketer, Sue is an integral part of my team."

-- Chris L., EVP/CMO, Major Trade Association, Past Client