Tax Day is coming.

Monday is Tax Day, and we can expect a lot of confusion over refund size because of tax cuts. The common narrative by Democrats is the tax cuts benefited the rich at the expense of the middle class. But that’s incorrect, and we encourage you to spread the good news.

Here are two important things to remember when talking taxes and tax returns in 2019:

#1 — Refunds = Interest-Free Loan

Let’s not misunderstand what’s happening when you receive a refund from the government. The government is not giving you money, the government is returning your money. The money you receive in a tax refund is your money, but you’ve allowed the government to hold it interest free over the past year.

#2 — Check Your Paycheck

According to Money.com, smaller refunds are likely a result of larger paychecks — “In other words: ‘You’ve been receiving the tax cuts every two weeks’ for the past year.’” This is actually very good news given point #1. Because employers had to change how much money they withhold from employees under the new tax law, you get to keep more of your money throughout the year RATHER THAN having it returned to you via a lump sum during tax season.

Critics are likely to point to smaller refunds as proof that the tax cuts only benefited the wealthy, so use these two talking points to expose their false narrative.

How to talk about the Green New Deal

The Green New Deal (GND) hits the Senate floor this week. Though it’s been in the news since its release, coverage will increase in the next few days as we watch the Senate presidential primary candidates decide whether to back up their vocal support with a vote.

Increased coverage means you should be prepared to field a question or two in your upcoming interviews. The good news? So often it’s difficult to visualize the impact of legislation –- how will it affect pocketbooks, what changes day-to-day, etc. — but tangible examples abound in the GND.

Here are a few of our favorites:

#1 — Cost
Total cost is roughly $93 trillion, which is a meaningless number to quote. Instead, break it down to cost per household = $419,000. There is not one single household willing to expand their budgets by $419,000/year. Not one.

You can also use a comparison to emphasize the sticker shock. The CBO has estimated that the moon landing would cost $225 billion today (which is a lot less than $93 trillion). AND WE WERE ABLE TO PUT A MAN ON THE MOON.

#2 — Eliminate air travel…
…in favor of high-speed rail. Given the recent high-speed rail fail in California, this seems like an impractical suggestion.

#3 — Everything is free
Literally, everything. The GND promises free money to those “unable or unwilling to work,” free jobs, free education, and free housing for EVERY American. 

The legislation is outrageous and unworkable as the facts and figures suggest, and you only need to highlight one or two examples per interview to prove your point. 

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BONUS — If you’d like to stay away from facts and figures, here’s a block and bridge to highlight the absurdity:

Q: Don’t you think the GND is the best answer to a pressing issue?

A: “Why take seriously something the authors of the bill aren’t ready to put their names on? The very day AOC unveiled this plan, she removed it from her website and voted against it on the House floor.”

How to win the mental game

Nailing a media interview is equal parts technique and mental game, but more attention is often paid to the importance of mastering what you say and how you say it rather than your mindset before and during the interview.

We’re here to say that your mindset matters and will absolutely determine an interview’s success. So, before you put all your effort into mastering talking points, body language, and facial expressions, it’s worth your time to develop the right mindset.

Here are three ways to do so:

#1 — Realize perfection is a process
Your first few interviews probably won’t be great, and that’s ok. There is a learning curve everyone has to face, but the one obstacle that will keep you from making progress is fear. You have to allow yourself to be human, make mistakes, and learn. A good perspective to keep: if you’re speaking about an issue you believe in, the worst that can happen is you’ll think about how you *could’ve* made the point better, but you won’t ever regret making the point.

#2 — Don’t be afraid of the media
A media interview IS NOT a battle of wits between you and the reporter. It’s your job to acknowledge the question asked and then immediately pivot to your talking point. If helpful, think of the reporter as a facilitator. They are there to fill air time and ask questions. It’s up to you whether the discussion is meaningful.

#3 — Always speak to the audience
Consider who you’re speaking to and what you want them to know regardless of the question asked. People are tuning in to hear from you and get your perspective on an issue, so give them your perspective.

For the People Act

Though most Americans agree it’s wrong to punish someone for sharing their viewpoint (as free speech is highly valued and continually fought for), House Democrats are trying to codify this type of discrimination into law. 

The euphemistically named “For the People Act” will make its debut on the House floor this week, and if passed will expose the names, addresses, and other personal information of every American who generously donates money to an organization, cause, or campaign. 

Though most Americans agree it’s wrong to punish someone for sharing their viewpoint (as free speech is highly valued and continually fought for), House Democrats are trying to codify this type of discrimination into law. 

While the name of the bill (“For the People”) suggests helpful legislation to stop corruption and expose how money is spent in politics, it actually does something far more dangerous — it makes every American a target.

For this reason, it’s important to speak up and out about it. Here are a few suggestions:  

  • A great line to use: “Transparency is for government, privacy is for people.”
  • You can emphasize that you’re actually fighting for the people they claim to be fighting for: “No American should be forced to have their name put on a list for simply making a donation.”
  • And if you want to make a comparison: “Passage of this legislation is like asking every American who donates money to wear a bumper sticker for the cause.”   

Every day we hear stories about discrimination on social media, violence on college campuses, and harassment on street corners if you openly support a cause someone deems “wrong.” Allowing passage of the “For the People Act” will only increase the frequency of intimidation for those who choose to show support with their pocketbook.

Gov. Northam: A Cautionary Tale in Crisis Management

You don’t have to be a PR professional to understand that Gov. Northam absolutely failed in his response to a racist photo that surfaced last week. Between his initial reaction on Friday to the follow-up press conference on Saturday, there’s a lot to talk about.

We want to focus on something that people in the public eye struggle to do—admit they’re wrong. Responding to a crisis isn’t easy as you risk destroying personal and professional relationships, but Gov. Northam’s “apology” fell short as he gave into the popular narrative of “I’m not that person.” 

Here’s how we think Gov. Northam should’ve handled the situation:

  1. Don’t say “I’m not that person.” 
  2. Instead, admit you’re wrong and say you’re sorry.
  3. And then explain what you’ve learned/how you’ve grown since the incident.

It’s painful to admit you’re wrong, but this strategy is much less newsworthy than a denial, reversal, and offer to moonwalk. If you get out in front of the story, the story will never exist.

Makeup Artist Rec!

One of the best parts of our day is interacting with a lot of talented people in many different industries. But maybe the one that has the biggest impact on how we’re perceived is the makeup artist. These people make us look good, and we appreciate them.

Whether in the TV studio, on a stage, or posing for a new head shot, your hair and makeup matter. So, why not trust the professionals to help you look your best??

We’d like to introduce you to Carolyn Berry.

Carolyn is a makeup artist in the Washington DC area. She regularly prepares FOX News talent and guests for their work on TV, but was previously employed at CNN and HLN. She is represented by AMAX talent agency in Nashville TN, and her specialty is developing the look to match the vibe that the client needs for each individual project.

Carolyn is a developer at heart and loves to teach. She held positions as the Education Coach at the Aveda Institute and as a regional corporate beauty trainer with Walgreens. After 20 years in the business, Carolyn is still in love with what makeup can do for the spirit, bringing her talent, professionalism & enthusiasm to every job. She is certified as a master esthetician and licensed educator with a focus on holistic health and wellness.

If you’d like to hire Carolyn for your next event or TV appearance, you can contact her here. We highly recommend you do!

How to talk about the caravan

As the caravan slowly makes its way to the U.S. border, it’s important we talk about it not in hyperbolic terms but factually and carefully. The media and politicians have promoted a narrative that makes doing so difficult — if you attempt to deny or counter their talking points, you risk being labeled heartless, racist, ignorant, etc.

But you have the power of proof (over opinion) to lean on. A great resource to use is this report by an MSNBC correspondent:

Here’s the key takeaway — “The truth is, the majority of the people that are in this caravan, especially outside — if we can make our way all the way over there, we’ll show you the majority of them are men…From what we’ve seen, the majority are actually men and some of these men have not articulated that need for asylum.”

His report is directly opposed to the narrative promoted by the media and politicians, but his example reveals the truth. We suggest you use it to your advantage when confronted by questions about the caravan. It’s more important now than ever to make sure we have and promote the facts, which you can do via examples.

BEWARE: Early Voting

The media are hungry for predictions ahead of midterms, and they have their sights set on early voting. But as we’ve warned (here and here), making a prediction leads nowhere good. The safe play is to answer the prediction question by pivoting to what’s more important.

Here’s what we mean:

Q: Voter turnout for early voting is high at 8.1 million and counting, with more Republicans casting ballots than Democrats. Does this mean the “blue wave” is receding?

A: “The high voter turnout is interesting, but it’s too early to make a prediction about results and the “blue wave.” No matter which party controls Congress post-midterms, the issue we need to focus on is <insert talking point>.”

Acknowledge the high voter turnout but refuse to make a prediction. The more substantive answer will pivot to a pressing policy issue. And if they push you to make a prediction, push back by explaining that early voting numbers don’t give us the data we need to make an accurate prediction. Sure, it’s interesting that a lot of people have turned out, and that a larger number of Republicans have cast votes, but there is no guarantee that a registered Republican voted for Republicans.

EXCEPTION: If you’re working on a campaign, you have to predict that your candidate will win. No matter how unlikely it seems, a victory is always the right (and expected) prediction.

Why Nikki Haley is so popular

As Nikki Haley prepares to step down from her position as UN ambassador at the end of the year, her popularity on both sides of the aisle has come into sharp focus. In April, Quinnipiac released a poll that showed Republicans and Democrats liked Haley 75-9 and 55-23, respectively.

With numbers like that, Nikki Haley might be the most popular politician in America right now. But why? We think her communication game has a lot to do with it. Here are the three things she does that we wish more politicians would consider:

#1 — She stands up for herself.
Haley has responded to a number of unfair comments about her and her motivations, but the tussle ignited by Larry Kudlow highlights how good she is at standing up for herself:

“When a White House official suggested this week that United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley had suffered ‘momentary confusion’ over the Trump Administration’s approach to new Russian sanctions, she responded with a clear message to the contrary. ‘With all due respect, I don’t get confused.’

Haley could’ve ignored or apologized for the attack, but instead she defended herself with confidence and clarity.

#2 — She doesn’t take sides.
As a female, Haley had to address the allegations against her boss that surfaced in the 2016 campaign, and she did so in the best way possible:

“More than a dozen women came forward during the 2016 campaign with allegations of unwanted touching or kissing or other forms of sexual harassment. Haley addressed the allegations on CBS’s Face the Nation, after discussing North Korea’s missile tests and the plan to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Haley told host John Dickerson that women who feel that they were harassed by Trump have ‘every right to speak up’ and ‘we should all be willing to listen to them.’

Haley didn’t discuss details or place blame, but instead focused on what everyone is seeking — the truth.

#3 — She’s tough.
There are numerous examples of Haley’s “take no prisoners” approach as UN ambassador, but the following statement is a good example of the kind of speech she’s now famous for:

“[In March 2017, Haley spoke] to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), [and] said the U.S. was putting countries ‘on notice.’  The U.S. now will ‘actually act on what we say,’ she said. ‘If you challenge us,’ she said, ‘be prepared for what you’re challenging us for, because we will respond.’

Women are often categorized as shrill or aggressive when they talk tough, but Haley hasn’t received that same characterization. When she’s tough, she speaks simply and clearly and exudes confidence.

How to Host a Podcast

Podcasts are a dime a dozen these days, but only the few, the proud, the very good survive. Why? Star power and high production quality don’t hurt, but we’d like to argue that a podcast’s success hinges on the host’s ability to…host. It’s about more than sitting behind a mic and hitting “record.” A good host is in control and drives the conversation from beginning to end.

Here’s how we suggest you do it:

#1 — Prepare your guest

Not every episode will include a guest interview, but a few might. If you’re preparing to interview someone, make sure you manage their expectations. Send questions ahead of time, but also ask if there’s a topic they’d like to discuss. Finding and highlighting their enthusiasm makes for a more compelling conversation. Make sure you’ve read through their bio in advance, and don’t be afraid to ask for a punchier version – you will lose a listener (or 3) over a long bio. And finally, end the conversation with a shout out to their social media accounts and website.

#2 — Transition seamlessly

The most awkward moments usually involve a transition, so it’s important you practice. Know how you plan to welcome the audience, introduce yourself/co-host/guests, segue between segments, and sign off. Your goal is to immediately capture the audience’s attention, which you risk losing via a sloppy or awkward transition. If you feel awkward, the audience probably feels awkward, and they will stop listening.

#3 — Have a conversation

Though you already know what you plan to ask (because you took our advice and sent questions in advance, right??), your conversation with the guest is more than a Q&A session. The questions should serve as your guide, but also play off what the guest says. If they bring up an interesting point, ask a follow-up question or acknowledge their answer and block and bridge to a new question. If you mindlessly ask questions and fail to make connections between answers, the episode will sound rehearsed. Remember: the audience wants to listen in on a conversation between you and your guest, so the goal is to make them believe that’s what’s happening.

Understanding how to host is only one part of podcasting. Thankfully, the Leadership Institute is organizing its Conservative Podcasting School on October 15-16 to teach you EVERYTHING there is to know about how to start a podcast. We highly recommend you register to attend.