Beating back COVID restrictions

In 2021, Mighty Michigan focused on telling the stories of economic devastation and joblessness in the wake of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s pandemic lockdown policies – many of which related to COVID restrictions. Audiences from across the political spectrum were turned off by the partisanship of the “reopen” debate but they were feeling the pain of the shutdowns.

We found that there were more than 140,000 Michiganders who disapproved of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID response but were not registered to vote, and sprang into action. 

Our outreach efforts culminated in May, with Mighty Michigan leading the largest digital outreach campaign in the state against proposals to make COVID-19 workplace restrictions permanent. Our campaign resulted in more than 14,400 new earned audience members at a cost of $0.47 per email.

Storytelling was a key piece of the initiative. Mighty Michigan told the story of Karl Manke, a barber who was under attack by the Whitmer administration for continuing to work during the pandemic. Our Facebook post of Manke’s story generated nearly 10,000 organic engagements in 24 hours. We also featured real stories of Michigan small business owners in an op-ed in the Holland Sentinel: “Michigan’s new lockdown will turbocharge income inequality.

Our community generated more than 1,000 emails directly to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the week leading up to the scheduled public hearing on the rules. Before the public hearing even took place, Whitmer made a deal with legislative leaders and rescinded the rules. 

Preventing bad policy is easier than fixing it after the fact, and Mighty Michigan made it happen.