“It is time for conservatives to bring the narrative,” said former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino at the Dairy Strong Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, last week.
Perino, best-selling author, and current co-host of The Five on Fox News, delivered the opening keynote last week at the annual conference for players in the Wisconsin dairy industry. As expected, Perino brought a savvy political edge to the conference. In addition, as a former rancher in Wyoming and Colorado, she also brought relevant personal experience that resonated throughout the room of hard-working Wisconsin farmers.
Perino exposed problematic political habits adopted by both liberals and conservatives. Above all, she questioned the data-oriented approach taken by the vast majority of outspoken conservatives concerning public policy and debate. She warned against using data and statistics exclusively while neglecting the value of stories and emotional appeal.
Perino charged: “It doesn’t matter if you have all the data, facts, and figures to support your position. Somebody else will come along with a heart-wrenching story, and suddenly nobody cares about your statistics.”
Her message connected with the audience as they identified with her story, and many nodded in agreement. Small-town farmers and other business professionals were faced with an explanation for their vanishing voices in public policy.
In a later interview with Dairy Strong, Perino advanced her ideals. “Human beings actually learn from each other best through storytelling, and it’s one of the thing you have to keep in mind when you are thinking about influencing policy or public relations,” she stated. “You have to give them something to hold onto, and in the Ag community there are so many great stories to tell, but they tend to be a little reticent to tell them . . . If you’re not telling your story, somebody else is telling their own, and you will miss the opportunity.”
Opening her keynote with childhood ranching nostalgia, ending with remarks on Trump’s inauguration, and touching on everything in between, Perino impacted a number of Wisconsin farmers and others in the agriculture and dairy industries. Other elements of her keynote included advice for American voters, stories of President George Bush’s exemplary integrity, and stories from her time with Fox News—all woven with wisdom, grace, and Dana’s timeless political repartee.
Abby Bell, a young dairy farmer and conference attendee, commented: “Dana Perino is an excellent role model. She definitely has a great tale to tell, and it has inspired me to start telling my story too.”