Blog | December 20, 2021

Insight from a Communications Exec: Why Effective Messaging on Infants and Toddlers Matters

ReadyNation member Jeffrey Smulyan shares the connection between early childhood brain development and our economy

Jeffrey Smulyan

As someone who has made a career in broadcasting and telecommunications, I understand and appreciate how thoughtfully and strategically ReadyNation is engaging business leaders to get the word out about the importance of investments in infants and toddlers. My experience in the broadcasting field has taught me that messaging matters.

We know that birth to age 3 is a unique period of brain development, and that’s why it’s so crucial that parents of infants and toddlers get the particular support they need to set their children up for success. The first three years, especially, are critical for development. During those years, more than one million neural connections form every second—a period of brain development unmatched by any other. Young children depend on nurturing, stimulating environments, both at home and in child care, for healthy brain development.

At Emmis, we know that being future-focused is essential to long-term success. That idea also applies to ReadyNation’s efforts to prepare the future workforce through smart, evidence-based investments in young children. ReadyNation cultivates business executives as influential messengers on the importance of these investments, positioning these members to be uniquely effective in taking action in a variety of ways and encouraging increased public investments for infants and toddlers.

Business Leader Focus Group Insights

In July 2021, ReadyNation commissioned the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center to conduct two focus groups with select ReadyNation members. I participated with executives from different industry sectors across the country, including current and former business leaders from major companies, small businesses, and chambers of regional influence. We all came together with a common goal: to support policies and programs that are proven to improve the lives of children, working parents, and the economy overall. The purpose was to determine key messages that resonate with business leaders regarding the importance of investing in early childhood, particularly infants and toddlers.

Key Takeaways

ReadyNation members identified two major challenges that the business community faces—remaining globally competitive and retaining skilled workers—and discussed how early childhood investments, particularly those focused on infants and toddlers, can help to resolve these challenges. Each challenge and the respective messages regarding solutions are outlined in a fact sheet.

As was true before the COVID-19 pandemic and is more evident than ever before, business leaders can and must play a key role in this effort. In fact, we are passionate partners, devoted to working with like-minded employers, policymakers, other civic leaders, advocates, child care providers, and working families. We know that investments in our youngest learners are not only critical for those children and their parents today, but pay dividends for years for our businesses and the national economy.

ReadyNation has been recruiting, organizing, and mobilizing business executives to build momentum for public investments in children since 2006. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to sign up on their website to get involved.

ReadyNation’s unique model for executives lifts business leader voices through a host of options to participate at one’s discretion, always fully supported by our staff. Consider completing this form to make a recommendation and our team will be in touch, or simply direct any business leader eager to learn more to our webpage here to sign up online. If you have any questions regarding this blog, please reach out to Lauren Bell, ReadyNation Associate at


Jeffrey Smulyan

Chairman and CEO, Emmis Communications