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Mass Appeal

Communicating Policy Ideas in Multiple Media

Justin Gest

Publication Date - 15 July 2020

ISBN: 9780190062187

208 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches

In Stock


Public policy education is oriented around the development of innovative ideas for how to improve governance and make society better. However, it undervalues a critical tool for translating policy ideas into action: the ability to communicate ideas broadly, strategically, and effectively. Drawing on his past frustration with translating his research from academia to the public sphere, Justin Gest has written a primer for public policy students, researchers, and policy professionals on how to turn analyses and memos into clear and persuasive campaigns. This book outlines the principles, structure, and target audience for different media essential to policy communication. Including advice from practitioners and illustrative examples, Gest explains the indispensability of pithiness to clear communication and how to achieve it.


  • A concise resource for how to transform policy ideas and expertise into effective and persuasive public campaigns
  • Includes specially commissioned advice from practitioners, and examples to illustrate good policy communication
  • Lays out how to use different media to communicate policy ideas: executive summaries, press releases, op-eds and blogs, briefings, broadcast appearances, and social media

About the Author(s)

Justin Gest, Associate Professor of Policy and Government, George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government.

Justin Gest is Associate Professor of Policy and Government at George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government. He is the author of IApart: Alienated and Engaged Muslims in the West (2010); The New Minority: White Working Class Politics in an Age of Immigration and Inequality (2016); The White Working Class: What Everyone Needs to Know (2018); and co-author of Crossroads: Comparative Immigration Regimes in a World of Demographic Change (2018). In 2014 and 2020, he received Harvard University's Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize and George Mason University's Teaching Excellence Award, respectively each university's highest award for faculty teaching.


"Presents a practical guide to communicating policy proposals broadly, strategically, and effectively, discussing the fundamentals and principles of seven specific forms of communication." -- Journal of Economic Literature (Volume 59, no. 1)

"Mass Appeal is a guide for researchers who want to improve their ability to make a policy impact with their research. The focus is on understanding the strengths and weaknesses of different media for communicating research ideas and their implications, and on providing simple, straightforward and practical advice. The book is likely to be useful for researchers across the career spectrum, from PhD students to senior and established scholars...This book is a timely contribution, with the rise of 'fake news' and increasing challenges to the authority of research knowledge and experts. In Mass Appeal, researchers have a tool kit to support them in countering these trends." -- Steven Hill, LSE Review of Books

"Gest practices what he preaches: Mass Appeal is written with clarity, precision, and clear target in mind. Too many brilliant ideas and insights are trapped in the weeds of expert jargon. Gest shows you the path out of the jungle and into the light." -- Edward Luce, Financial Times

"This much-needed book provides the essential building blocks for communication and an array of examples that will help students and professionals write and speak more effectively." -- Sophia Kalantzakos, New York University

"Justin Gest's Mass Appeal is concise, compelling, and powerful — just like good strategic communication itself. Loaded with real-life examples and practical advice, the book lays out why strategic communication matters and how to do it effectively." -- Beth Knobel, Fordham University

Table of Contents


    1. A Multilingual Toolkit

    2. The Executive Summary

    3. The Press Release

    4. The Op-Ed and Blog

    5. The Briefing

    6. The Broadcast Appearance

    7. The Elevator Pitch

    8. The Website and Social Media

    9. Key Questions

    Sources Cited

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