Emails show state grappling with ‘Come Home Montana’ blowback

Internal emails indicate that staff at the Montana Department of Commerce have monitored a notable volume of public frustration with aspects of Gov. Greg Gianforte’s Come Home Montana marketing campaign over the last year, in some cases expressing sympathy with concerns about the minimal diversity represented in the campaign’s imagery and the effort’s perceived insensitivity to Montana’s burgeoning affordability crisis.

The emails, provided to Montana Free Press through a public records request, also show that the department decided in coordination with the governor’s office to avoid personalized exchanges with members of the public who communicated concerns about the campaign. Instead, department staff responded to critical emails with a three-paragraph form letter.

“I heard back from the Govs Comms office,” Deputy Director Adam Schafer wrote in a June 2021 email thread where department staff discussed how to respond to criticism of the campaign. “Their direction is that they as a general rule do not engage with negative social media posts, so we should not. However, for emails we receive, they did approve this generic response that we can use as a reply.”

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