In the spring of 2018, two bills were introduced in the Pennsylvania General Assembly that were camouflaged as reform proposals – but would have curtailed low-income Pennsylvanians’ access to food and health care.
Specifically, the measures would impose restrictions on low-income citizens using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and make it tougher for them to qualify for medical assistance under Medicaid.
Hunger-Free Pennsylvania and its partners hired Ceisler Media and Issue Advocacy to devise a campaign to raise awareness and motivate voters. Initially, all sides agreed that it would be an uphill battle persuading legislators to defeat these measures.
After the harmful legislation was fast-tracked through the Pennsylvania House, Ceisler associates coordinated with other like-minded partners to ensure the bills would not pass the Senate. Our quick-turnaround campaign focused on publicizing the negative aspects of the legislation and encouraging stakeholders to contact members of the Senate Health Committee, where it would be taken up.
The campaign had three related components.
Digital advertising. We purchased more than 225,000 on-line impressions, targeted toward left-leaning Democrats with a strong propensity to vote – exactly the people who would be motivated to take action against this legislation. The pop-up ads appeared when those voters clicked on their regularly visited websites.
Facebook Advertising. Like the digital campaign, these ads targeted a specific, active audience. With a relatively small budget, we were able to create 260,000 impressions among nearly 70,000 viewers. And, as an added benefit for the future, Hunger-Free Pennsylvania secured 126 new page “likes” on Facebook – increasing its following more than 14 percent.
Politics PA Advertising. While its audience may be small, the website effectively reaches legislative insiders and policy advocates in government and politics. We were able to amplify the message by placing ads throughout the site, as well as a pop-up bubble ad that appeared with every first-time visit. Overall, the four-week campaign generated more than 360,000 impressions.
To further focus the effort, all of the advertising was targeted to residents living in zip codes represented by those legislators who we wanted to make sure heard from their constituents.
As a result of Ceisler’s rapid-response campaigns, Hunger-Free Pennsylvania and its partners were able to direct more than 1,000 emails of concern to representatives and senators.
While the House approved the measures, Senate leadership decided not to bring them up for a full floor vote. They lingered in committee until the Legislature adjourned for a months-long summer break, and the language was never inserted into any subsidiary budget codes bills.
The battle appeared a longshot at first. But Ceisler Media is proud to have played a significant role in educating the public, spurring activism and, ultimately, stalling the legislation. Our clients were delighted.