Richard P. Rush / `Talk Basic' a Cardinal Principle with New State Chamber Director

Article excerpt

Richard P. Rush used logic in Northern California. It's a mistake he won't repeat in Oklahoma.

At least not in one part of his three-legged action plan for the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

With Rush as newly-hired executive director, the state chamber will concentrate on its legislative agenda, general economic development and cooperation with the 140-plus local chambers.

Implementing the latter phase while employed by a chamber in Northern California, Rush said he discovered a cardinal principle of communicating with the general public - "talk basic."

Rush believes it necessary to inform local publics about how important business issues are to their daily lives. He proceeded to do just that.

"But I over estimated American citizens in their understanding of the issues at first," Rush said. "I realized I needed to talk basic. I made the mistake of using logic instead of emotion."

Rush evidently learned the lesson well. Local citizens there averaged sending 2,500 to 4,000 letters, "many handwritten on the back of paperbags," a month to state legislators lobbying for or against important business-related bills, he said.

"An aware constituency" can be an effective tool for the chamber, Rush said.

"They need to know how that law is going to impact their life," he said. "Many special interest groups don't look out for the local citizens.

"But if the local chamber communicates with their members, who communicate with their employees and they talk to their husbands and wives - we can reach 95 percent of the citizens."

An effective lobbying force want to motivate to help with the chamber's legislative program - 12 issues identified by Chamber members as the most important issues that will have the greatest impact on the ability to create jobs and the economic climate of the state.

Right-to-work, tort reform and workers' compensation are top priorities for expansion in Oklahoma and head the state chamber's list. …