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Spotlight on … Chris Conner

Spotlight on … Chris Conner

June 2024

Director of Political Advocacy, Allstate

You’ve been managing Allstate’s political action committee as well as its grassroots advocacy program for over 10 years now. How has this work changed in that time?

As I said at the Council’s PAC Conference in March, it has changed significantly, meaning organizations face new challenges — and new opportunities. More people are paying closer attention to politics than ever before, which is generally a good thing. Civic engagement is really important. Most folks are getting their information online, and in that universe, information about candidates and their sources of funding is more readily available than ever. Naturally, more access means more questions.

What does that extra scrutiny mean for corporations like yours?

PAC managers and the organizations they work for have to be more intentional, more curatorial, more surgical than ever before. The choices we make about who we will and will not support are visible in ways they were not before, and the considerations we must take into account are broader than ever. That’s why it is so important that you revisit your mission and processes regularly.

In addition, you should really try to know your company and its goals at a granular level. I also co-manage our state legislative and regulatory team, so staying firmly connected to the business is mission critical for me.

Before joining Allstate, you were in consulting?

Yes, for a few years, starting in 2008. I started my own communications and media consulting firm and my first major client was Allstate. So it was a smooth move from having Allstate as a client to coming onboard.

And going back even further, you made another smooth move, transitioning within Comcast from being a “marketing coordinator” to being a tv news writer and producer?

I’m a Philadelphia native, and Comcast of course is based in Philly. I was also a journalism major in college, so the company offered me the opportunity to put those skills to use when they started a regional news operation. My first big assignment — I was in my mid-20s at the time — was to be part of the news team covering the 2000 Republican national convention, which was in Philadelphia. That was a pretty heady experience, being thrown into the whirlwind like that.

And I had a little fun before working on the “hard news” side of it. I was a track and field sprinter in college and have had a serious love of sports my entire life. As a college intern at Comcast, I was privileged and delighted to work on a baseball program called “On Base with Scott Graham.” Scott went on to work as a play-by-play announcer for the Phillies, then became the voice of NFL Films. Often when you hear an ad for the NFL, that’s him. On that show, I also got to work with Jayson Stark, who went on to become one of the country’s most influential baseball writers. Not a bad way to spend a summer!

You originally wanted to be a journalist for your entire career, right?

Yup. I did get to spend 10 years in broadcast journalism which I loved. I still have a great appreciation of and respect for long-form journalism. In college, I had ideas of being an investigative reporter or an entertainment reporter writing for one of the big glossies. Back then, you were to learn the ropes working on a small daily newspaper somewhere, and I had to face the reality of the small salaries that someone starting out might make. I came to realize that by the time I paid off my student loans, I’d be ready for retirement.

And there are fewer opportunities in the world of print journalism than there used to be?

Definitely. There are now at least two full generations of Americans who don’t even think about the world of “print.” They get their information elsewhere. But as I said earlier, there are more sources available than ever before. I’m a big fan, for example, of Apple News. Its aggregated coverage of the insurance industry is really first rate and keeps me plugged in to trends and developments.

And you are a musician?

My mother introduced me to the music of Prince (at maybe too early an age), and after I heard his guitar solo at the end of “Let’s Go Crazy,” there was no turning back. I have too many guitars, but as for performance, I like to say I am “retired.” I have enough to do with my family and my work!

Reach Chris at [email protected].

PAC managers and the organizations they work for have to be more intentional, more curatorial, more surgical than ever before.

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