Generating Media Coverage

May 29, 2012

Everyone familiar with IJ knows that we fight our cases in two courts:  the court of law and the court of public opinion.  Here is a quick look at the media side of the lawsuit we filed against everybody’s favorite federal agency:  the IRS.

The launch was covered on national TV—as well as in magazines, newspapers, websites, blogs and radio.  IJ appeared on CNBC’s The Kudlow Report in a segment titled, “Unlawful power grab by the IRS?”  The host declared the regulations we are challenging an “IRS shakedown.”  The Associated Press ran a lengthy feature that appeared in hundreds of news outlets nationwide.

The Economist magazine showcased IJ and noted that the regulations we are challenging threaten “to crush small, local competitors” and are likely “to push mom and pop into another line of work.”  Bloomberg news noted that “[t]he Institute for Justice . . . seeks to protect civil liberties.”

The entire media message for each IJ case stems from a single theme unique to that case.  Our theme for this case: Congress never gave the IRS the authority to license tax preparers, and the IRS can’t give itself that power.  This theme showed up verbatim in more than 100 outlets, including Forbes, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Times and USA TodayThe Weekly Standard also wrote that “occupational licensing requirements almost invariably hurt small businesses.”  Yahoo! News told its readers “IJ has a history of fighting—and sometimes winning—battles over regulatory licensing.”  The Richmond Times-Dispatch published a glowing editorial citing licensing research that IJ has conducted.

The New York Post, The Washington Times and USA Today also published IJ op-eds on the lawsuit.  USA Today ran an editorial as a counterpoint to our op-ed.  Other outlets, like The Atlantic, the Chicago Tribune, Fox News Channel and The Wall Street Journal covered the launch as well.

With social media playing an important role in the way Americans get their news, IJ continues to make special efforts reaching out to blogs, news aggregators and other social media outlets.  To that end, our case launch video has received more than 138,000 views online, and the popular Daily Markets blog embedded it and wrote about “the Institute for Justice’s latest heroic effort.”  We also secured a coveted spot on the popular news aggregator and forum

Importantly, our cases (and our media pitches) cross the philosophical spectrum.  Left-leaning journalist Matt Yglesias wrote a feature for Slate magazine explaining that the regulations we are challenging “put potential competitors out of business,” while the conservative Daily Caller had our case launch as its lead story, decrying in large type “Unlawful Power Grab.”

We apply the same principled vision for each lawsuit we file and challenge ourselves on the promotional side to heighten the interest among reporters, showing how every case provides a unique and fun opportunity to make a compelling and positive case for liberty.  Hopefully as we generate more and more coverage for IJ and our issues, one day soon, the Institute for Justice will be a household name.

Bob Ewing is IJ’s director of communications.

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