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Assembly Republican staffer Steven Szemple. (Photo: Assembly Minority Office/YouTube).

Assembly Republicans step up their communications plan, going direct to the consumer

Hiring of veteran TV man Jeff Kubach helps GOP produce video content

By David Wildstein, August 31 2022 3:38 pm

A new legislative map that creates a possible path to a majority in next year’s election has resulted in a reinvigorated Assembly Republican communications plan that no longer relies on old media as the take their message directly to voters using professional videos.

Part of  that plan is being implemented by a relatively new hire, Jeff Kubach, an experienced TV cameraman and production coordinator who spent seven seasons on the crew of Survivor and also worked on crews for Burn Notice and Graceland.

Kubach has produced a number of professional videos for the Assembly staff, including “Reaction Couch,” which allows legislators to react to what’s happening in the state, and a series of min-biographies that help introduce lawmakers.

“Building the right in-house team has allowed us to expand our reach and message.  People get their news from just about everywhere these days, so if you are not focused on self-publishing and evolving to meet the demands of a constantly changing audience, you’re going to get left behind,” Todd Riffle, the communications director for the Assembly Republicans, told the New Jersey Globe.  “That’s why we have focused heavily on creating high quality, engaging and thought-provoking content.”

This month, Assembly Republicans began a new series of short videos Millennials and Generation Z policy experts from their staff to explain state issues in YouTube videos that take less than three minutes to watch.

So far, 26-year-old Steven Szemple has taken to YouTube to break down a plan by Assemblyman John McKeon (D-West Orange) to limit the size of boxes companies use to ship products and to explain Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed gun storage bill.

And Reina Smrdelj, a 31-year-old Assembly Republican staffer, has appeared in YouTube videos on parental rights over sex education curriculum, promises to lower prescription drug costs, and a sales tax holiday passed by Democrats that the GOP thinks is just a gimmick.

Republicans are working off a roadmap started by Murphy’s staff, which recognized the rapid shrinkage of print media during the governor’s first term.

In addition to streaming COVID-19 press conferences frequently aired live on New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia television stations, his staff  installed a mini TV studio at the governor’s home that for a minimal investment permitted Murphy to appear on national network and cable news shows.

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