A high-performance communications and public affairs firm uniquely qualified to deliver powerful results for select clients.
Services We Provide:
Editorial Board Prep and Meetings
Opinion Leader Contact
Higher Education Policy
Statewide Ballot Issue Campaigns
Veteran communicator Curt Steiner has broad experience in media strategy, press relations, communications, public affairs, lobbying, campaign management, corporate consulting and government policy-making.
As a senior vice president at The Ohio State University under two presidents for more than six years, Curt led the university’s efforts in communications and marketing and in government relations.
Prior to coming to Ohio State in 2004, he headed Steiner/Lesic Communications and HMS Success Public Relations, with a clientele that included Ohio State, Ohio Business Roundtable, AT&T, Nationwide Insurance Company, Goodrich Corporation, UBS, ACS State & Local Solutions, Ohio Municipal League, Inter-University Council, and the Ohio Telecom Association. Curt led coalitions with members including The Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Cincinnati, OhioHealth, Mt. Carmel Health System and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Earlier, Curt served as Chief of Staff, Communications Director and chief political strategist for Ohio Governor and Senator George Voinovich and Chief of Staff to Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson. Curt has been a senior advisor to many other government leaders, including Senator Rob Portman, Attorney General Mike DeWine, Congressman Steve LaTourette, and Congressman Patrick Tiberi, as well as numerous other members of the Ohio General Assembly and the state and federal judiciary.
Curt has advised corporate clients on media strategy, marketplace positioning and government relations. He has also served as a key policy and public relations advisor or campaign leader for coalitions promoting passage of statewide ballot issues and otherwise influencing public policy or public opinion.
Currently, Curt serves on the Ohio Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Columbus Chamber Government Affairs Advisory Committee and the Capitol Square Foundation Board.
Curt is a 1978 high honors graduate of Ohio University, where he studied communications, political science and English. He began his professional career as a news manager, producer and reporter for WOUB Radio and TV in Athens, Ohio. He arrived in Columbus in 1981 as an aide to the Ohio Senate leadership.
Cell – (614) 439-7240
Senior Communications Counsel
An independent communications and media relations specialist, Jen Detwiler brings to her profession 15 years of experience in government, public policy, and corporate communications. Her resume includes tours of duty as Director of Public Affairs and Communications Coordinator for the Ohio Auditor of State, Director of Communications for the Ohio House of Representatives, and Public Information Officer for the Ohio Attorney General. In addition to serving as advisor and spokesperson for executive-level leaders, Jen has worked effectively with a team in developing and executing communications strategies and tactics in high-pressure situations, crisis media management and analytical problem-solving. With high proficiency in the unique needs of print, radio, and television news, blogging, social networking, and other new media, she also has cultivated long-standing positive relationships with local, state, and national media. Her writing and editing skills apply in a wide range of formats, including corporate advertising and marketing, radio and television commercials, brochures, policy papers, annual reports, web sites, and training materials.
Cell – (614) 565-6481
An accomplished communications professional, Michelle Chippas has broad experience in media relations, communications, and public affairs management that encompasses the nonprofit, for profit and government sectors.
Leadership positions at the Alzheimer’s Association, Central Ohio Chapter; Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Ohio Chapter; and Tobacco-Free Ohio highlight Michelle’s resume. In these roles, Michelle successfully worked on several complex legislative issues, including the state’s tobacco settlement. She also worked at Nationwide as director of marketing for the company’s development arm, Nationwide Realty Investors. She oversaw the branding of the Arena District, a mixed-use development that includes office and retail space, residential and entertainment venues.
Michelle’s passion for urban revitalization and communications savvy was a winning combination that led her to work with the Edwards Companies and their downtown condominium development, Neighborhood Launch, where she manages marketing. Michelle has received praise from reporters for her keen eye for news and her ability to provide relevant, timely and in-depth stories.
She has extensive experience in strategic communications planning, event management, crisis communications, and social media. Michelle is actively engaged in nonprofit boards and volunteer activities, with an emphasis on local economic development and aging issues.
Cell – (614) 506-9055
Higher Priority for Higher Education
For years, public higher education issues were a low priority at the Statehouse. Elevating higher education on the state’s public policy agenda required a sustained effort.
We made direct and consistent contacts with elected officials, editorial boards and opinion leaders to emphasize the contributions of universities to the state’s economy and quality of life. We also focused attention on the growing collaborations among public and private universities and between universities and business.
In addition, we recommended a structural change that would allow the Chancellor to be in a stronger position to articulate the needs of public higher education as a member of the Governor’s Cabinet. House Bill 2, which passed unanimously in the Senate and with only two negative votes in the House, did just that. Higher education has risen on the public policy agenda, the state higher education funding formula has been revised and tuition increases have slowed dramatically.
The Ohio State University’s Enhanced Reputation
Because of its open admissions policy, Ohio State long trailed many other public universities in academic indicators. This changed rapidly with the introduction of selective admissions, but the university’s academic reputation lagged behind its growing stature.
We launched an aggressive media and marketing campaign based around Ohio State’s climb in the academic ratings nationally, the rising quality of its students, and its increased recognition as a national research powerhouse. As the numbers have risen and become widely disseminated, the university has become the premier public university in the state and a popular first choice for student applicants.
Construction Law Reform
Ohio’s public universities have long maintained that state-mandated restrictions on capital construction projects are costly and inefficient. Years of effort with media and policymakers finally shifted resistance to changing this longstanding policy. In 2009, we won the opportunity to institute construction reform as a pilot project on the $1 billion Ohio State Medical Center expansion. If, as expected, the project demonstrates significant savings, it will make a powerful argument for permanent construction reform.
Biomedical Research Consortium and the Third Frontier
As part of the national tobacco settlement in 1999, Ohio looked to gain a substantial one-time revenue windfall. Late in the state’s decision-making process on how to use these funds, a consortium asked for our help in securing some of the revenue for biomedical research. Working with The Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Clinic and the University of Cincinnati, we were successful. The hundreds of millions set aside for that statewide program formed the foundation of what is today’s Third Frontier program of investment in technology and innovation. Later, at Ohio State, we helped shape the statewide campaign to win renewal of funding for the Third Frontier initiative and worked with a bipartisan coalition of political and business leaders that won overwhelming voter support for the ballot issue when many said it would be defeated.
State Issue 1: The Drug Offenders Amendment
Facing a well-funded national campaign, which had succeeded in a number of other states, we overwhelmingly defeated a 2002 ballot initiative to change Ohio’s constitution on sentencing drug offenders. We developed a compelling message based on polling and research, devised a strategic plan relying heavily on earned media, carefully integrated limited paid media, and used collateral materials effectively, especially the Web site. We collaborated with other consultants to create a large, diverse statewide grassroots coalition in opposition, including drug treatment organizations and leaders of both political parties. We succeeded in exposing the initiative’s hidden weaknesses and reversed a widely held perception among key audiences, including the media, that the initiative was unbeatable. The initiative’s 2-1 defeat at the polls positioned Ohio nationally as a firewall against similar measures, and none has been introduced since.
Community Hospitals Project
In 2002 a group of Central Ohio orthopedic surgeons unveiled plans to build a $38 million, 30-bed for-profit “boutique” hospital in an affluent Columbus suburb. We were retained by the area’s not-for-profit full-service hospital systems to seek a legislative solution and to stimulate an intense public conversation about the role of community hospitals in the health care system and the threat of these new for-profit centers. The hospital systems—Children’s Hospital (now Nationwide Children’s), Mount Carmel Health System, OhioHealth and The Ohio State University Medical Center—recognized that the proliferation of boutique hospitals would siphon from profitable services such as orthopedic procedures the revenue that underwrites unprofitable services such as emergency care. The inevitable outcome would be the erosion of community access to vital health care services. Our efforts became a model at the national level, resulting in a two-year moratorium on the building of boutique hospitals and a study of their impact on health care.
PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America)
When the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs began an initiative petition drive to put prescription drug price control legislation before the Ohio General Assembly, we were retained by PhRMA to help manage strategy, execution and communications. The project involved a legal effort to challenge petition signatures. It also entailed outreach to media and key healthcare stakeholders on the impact of price controls on the development of new drugs. We created a 40-member statewide healthcare access coalition in three months and launched a patient clearinghouse of information about drug assistance programs already offered by the drug industry. Ultimately, these efforts were key to the successful negotiation between the Coalition and PhRMA, which resulted in new legislation and the launch in 2004 of Ohio’s BestRx, a widely available drug discount card program.
Flexible Pavements of Ohio
The asphalt paving industry association in Ohio retained us to help them maintain their market share of the paving industry and counter an aggressive campaign by the concrete industry to reverse market trends. We organized the roll-out of a next-generation asphalt paving process, “Perpetual Pavement,” by releasing an interactive CD-ROM and video news release, attracting media coverage of roadside news events and garnering follow-up coverage at the regional and national levels. We also produced facts and secured media coverage that emphasized the superiority of asphalt over concrete as a paving material. Flexible Pavements celebrated its 40th anniversary with the achievement of its market goals, while the concrete campaign quietly faded.