Think Freely Media sponsored its 2nd Annual Great Communicators Tournament in 2015. More than 150 online submissions were received, as we asked contestants to speak about issues such as criminal justice reform, the sharing economy, and solutions to environmental challenges, while focusing on the following hypothesis:
Americans no longer seem to understand or appreciate the value of freedom. Until they comprehend how liberty outweighs perceived security in their quality of life we may be creating solutions for problems people don’t know or believe they have.
Nearly 7,000 online votes were cast to help decide the finalists that would advance to the in-person rounds during the 2015 State Policy Network Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Twelve contestants were chosen to compete in Grand Rapids and participated in preliminary rounds judged by communications and marketing experts from the free market movement. Contestants gave prepared remarks on an assigned public policy issue and were then questioned by our judges, playing the role of community meeting or town hall attendees.
Brittney Parker, Wendy Day, and Jim Waters advanced to the final round, held in front of 800 free market movement leaders, activists, and donors. Judged by Jodi Carroll, Kat Timpf, and Betsy DeVos, our finalists first addressed the attendees and judges, providing a free market perspective on healthcare innovation, private charitable giving, and income inequailty. The contestants were then grilled by our judges, this time, playing the role of the hostile media, with questions about their specific policy issues.
In 2015, we gave the audience a voice, as attendees at the final round were able to vote for the contestant they thought best met the Tournament’s criteria using a mobile app. Additionally, we used a focus group of ideologically neutral millennial voters from Grand Rapids to provide feedback and help choose the Tournament’s winner.
After several grueling rounds feedback from the judges, the focus group, and the audience’s vote was combined and Brittney Parker of the Commonwealth Foundation in Pennsylvania was named the 2015 Great Communicator.