State Policy Network
Messaging opportunity: Uniting communities during the pandemic and beyond

By Meredith Turney, Senior Director of Leadership Development and Strategic Communications

Over the last few years, we have witnessed a growing divide in politics and in our nation. Left and Right don’t seem to agree on much anymore. Sometimes it takes a grave challenge or threat to remind us all that we are truly united and that together we can pull through whatever our nation may face.

During this time of uncertainty and fear due to the coronavirus pandemic, communities are looking for clear, honest, and sincere leadership. This is a golden moment for public policy organizations to step into the void and provide leadership that inspires.

Right now, SPN is participating in a weekly nationwide survey with Heart+Mind Strategies, a marketing research and strategy firm with whom we have a long, trusted history. Heart+Minds is different in their approach in that they ask people about their values. Values-based motivations are a much clearer indicator of how people will respond and act to messages. We have asked citizens what their greatest fears and hope are, which can shift during times of crisis.

Our research has shown that 53 percent of Americans say this crisis is bringing communities, people, and the country closer together. It’s an inspiring response in the midst of the pandemic and indicates that even while facing an uncertain future, Americans can see the silver lining.

This is the comforting, inspiring message state think tanks can share with citizens in their states: We are united. Share stories of community service. Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers, once shared that when he was frightened by scary news reports as a child, his mother advised him to “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” It’s a simple message, but so profound.

How are citizens in your state serving each other? How can we encourage more such actions that don’t require government intervention? How can new businesses or services help bring our communities together? As the public policy organization in your state, you’ll find such stories. And in telling them, you’ll have a remarkable impact on how your state rebounds from the crisis.

Our most powerful messaging during this time will focus on the helpers and the policies that will empower them to help our communities unite and recover.

To access to the weekly Heart+Minds Strategies, SPN surveys, and more insightful messaging guidance, please visit the SPN Member Portal.