Repositioning a Storied Think Tank in a Crowded Landscape


A storied think tank with over 30 years of policy advocacy was undergoing a significant change in leadership and focus. The organization retained Hillenby to develop a unique message platform in a crowded issue landscape that would raise its profile among elites in Washington, D.C., and potential donors and activists across the country.


Hillenby’s work began shortly after the announcement that a seasoned political veteran was taking the helm of the organization and refocusing its efforts on tax, budget and economic issues. We developed a strategic communications program that included the following components:

Influencer Identification and Outreach: We began by identifying individuals and organizations that are the most influential nationally on tax, budget and economic issues. Based on those findings, our team created and executed an outreach plan to build and maintain relationships with these influencers.

Message Research Survey: Based on the findings from discussions with several of our identified influencers and other research, Hillenby developed a unique two-tiered research survey that identified themes, messages and individual policy proposals that would resonate most among active voters, Washington, D.C. policy elites and potential contributors to the organization.

Message Development: Our team developed and branded a unique policy platform proven to appeal to influencers and those who could be converted into supporters of the organization. Hillenby continued to work with academics and organization staff members to refine and update the platform as the political landscape and economic realities shifted.

Media Relations: We launched an aggressive opportunistic media relations campaign to position the organization’s new CEO as a thought leader and policy expert. Our efforts included op-ed placements, ongoing research of media targets and creative promotional pitching that leveraged current events to drive visibility.


  • Conducted an in-depth, data-driven research process through which we identified over 210 influential individuals and organizations in the tax, budget and economic policy landscape.
  • Arranged meetings with 13 of these influential individuals and organizations in Washington, D.C., including The Heritage Foundation, The Brookings Institution, The American Enterprise Institute and The Concord Coalition.
  • At the height of our campaign, the organization’s leader was featured more frequently on national broadcast than any other peer, including appearances on FOX Business News’ “Varney & Co.” and “The Willis Report,” MSNBC’s “Jansing & Co.” and guest hosting roles on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
  • Op-eds by the organization’s leader were published by Politico, The Daily Caller, Investors’ Business Daily, Townhall and The Washington Examiner.
  • The organization’s policy platform continues to be its calling card and has gained additional attention from various national news outlets and through testimony to Congressional committees.


  • Coalition Management
  • Creative Services
  • Digital & Social Media
  • Editorial Services
  • Media Relations
  • Media Training
  • Messaging


  • Non-profit