Media outlets have a bias – can work in your favor or against Important to know editorial and news buys, who owns them, who advertises
Which gets us to the challenges: There is less and less political coverage (conventions during 2004 got the least coverage ever), having to compete with Hollywood “news” The media is saturated – the average person sees thousands of images and hundreds of ads a day; You cannot always control the outcome of the story – the reporter is there to tell a story not necessarily “your” story; the message can become diluted depending on what the reporter focuses on and can send mixed messages; every time you create a news opportunity it is an opportunity for the opponent, too; It takes a lot of time and resources to pull off a good earned media strategy. You rely on someone else to control what exactly is relayed about your campaign. The message can be diluted by the reporter – it can focus on something that is not your priority. Every time you hold an event – the opponent will also get a shot (and vice versa) Good media events are resource intensive – they can take a lot of time and people. Thus – figure out if the payoff is worth it: not every announcement requires an “event”
Free, but time and energy cost Overall strategy - Compliments direct action, worksite actions, bargaining, organizing & politics
Often that is exactly the question we end up asking – why the heck didn ’t they come and cover the event/issue/message/etc. Sometimes it is because the media sucks. But just as often it is because we didn’t do our job as well as we could/should. We ’ll go through all of this in more depth in the rest of the presentation
Often that is exactly the question we end up asking – why the heck didn ’t they come and cover the event/issue/message/etc. Sometimes it is because the media sucks. But just as often it is because we didn’t do our job as well as we could/should. We ’ll go through all of this in more depth in the rest of the presentation, but here are a few quick tips for increasing the likelihood of media coverage. Hooks - – think of local, national, regional tie-ins and “hooks” – what makes it a story that matters? Not everything that comes out of a candidate’s mouth or campaign is news. Relationships with reporters, editorial writers, people who know the media your card in reporters ’ rolodexes. Get to know them before you’re in campaign mode. Earn their trust – don’t bullshit, always follow up, give them leads, genuine praise for good stories. Hold press/media events – when appropriate, strategic – sometime it makes much more sense to simply send a press release and make a call (less time and just as much coverage – or lack of it). It is also important to use multiple venues to get your message out. It becomes news when people start seeing your story/message in multiple places. Pitch your story & think like a reporter
Hooks - – think of local, national, regional tie-ins and “hooks” Relationships with reporters, editorial writers, people who know the media your card in reporters ’ rolodexes Hold press/media events – when appropriate, strategic – sometime it makes much more sense to simply send a press release and make a call (less time and just as much coverage – or lack of it) Give reporters a story to cover – even when you don ’t want media coverage
Every story needs to describe briefly who the candidate is. How this gets phrased is important for the descriptors tend to stick and they are associated with the candidate in every story – they become “conventional wisdom.” The media will do it for you – so make sure and do it for yourself. Every press release, every bio, the website, everything should include the brief (EMPHASIS – BRIEF) descriptor you would like to have attached to your candidate. It can only be a few words. It needs to be consistent. It has to fit into a news story – not a propaganda piece. No guarantee the press will use it, but if it makes sense and seems to fit, it can at least influence their descriptor. Announcements are key times to establish the descriptor; filings are also good times – both stories are introductions to the candidate. E.g. Governor: Senator Becky Lourey, one of the most liberal senators in the State Legislator” (2002) versus “Senator Becky Lourey, a small business owner and creator of Minnesota Care” (2004)
Overview Media events Pluses : allows us put out our message; a good press event can create excitement and make the news our news; with preparation we can hone our message; can more easily appeal to getting television coverage; more people see TV than read paper, but papers can often tell a more detailed story Minuses : lots of work – is it worth the time for the potential coverage; no guarantee that you will control message (will be filtered through reporters and your opponent ’s side will get covered as well); very hard to get coverage, especially in larger media markets. Define clear goals What are you trying to accomplish? Do you need an event – or will a press release work? Have something worth saying What is your message? Why should people care? Other considerations Location (does it communicate on message - -what does it say); Spokespeople (are they credible? Are they on message? Are they prepared?); Signs/Visual (limit to 1-2 key messages? What is being said by the “photo”; do the signs communicate a message on their own?)
Role Play. Practice possible questions and what your response might be – practice answering (and not answering) questions. Map out beforehand how you think the interview will go. This should also include how you will look if on tv. Background info. Briefing books for important interviews or on key issues -- Know who you are interviewing with and what the parameters of the interview will be (e.g. the story). Larger campaigns use briefing books – all campaigns should organize background information and research the different media outlets – who the key reporters/opinion leaders are and what their approach/bias is (e.g. know if you are going onto a public interest show versus a radio talk back show) Talking points. Prepare talking points on the key issues or message you want to get across in the interview. This is a way to organize thoughts and boil down key message ideas to sound bites.
Rule #1: Reporters are not your staff. Their job is not to do your bidding – it is to tell a story. They can not be ordered around, asked to serve you, or fired (although sometimes you would like to). Rule #2: They are also not your enemies. They are not only critically important to your campaign, but most of them are pretty decent people.
Create relationships with reporters . Like all organizing, fundraising, voter contact – it all comes down to relationships because it is all about communications. Create relationships with reporters. Knowing them, and them knowing you will often result in more depth to the story, and more likelihood of fair coverage. Over time these relationships can deepen and develop as trust and your credibility grow.
Reporters often use silence (like salesman) to prompt decisions (or more talk). Everything you say can be used. Stay focused, answer the question, get your points made, and stop talking. Finally, over-explaining doesn ’t sound smart, it sounds like you are either a “pinhead” or trying to hide something.
Pivot and stay on message. You don ’t have to answer every question asked – make sure that you are telling your story. Pivoting is the art of answering the question that you want asked without seeming like you are not answering the question. Careful how you answer hypotheticals. You ’ll get into trouble and will often end up on an endless string of hypotheticals. Pivot – “well, I am not comfortable answering hypotheticals, but what I do know is …” and get back onto your message.
This is just ugly – and Coleman actually had good relationships with the press. At this point there was no credibility. At some point you have to answer the question. If there is nothing to say (or the allegation is correct) don ’t hold the event. This didn’t kill the story – it fed it.
Blitzer had just quoted Rep. Virgil Goode ’s statement from 12-7-06 regarding Ellison being sworn in on the Quran. He quotes Goode: “If Americans and Congress don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Quaran.” Keith Ellison Won in the 5 th District in MN – the first Muslim elected to Congress. Very nasty election all the way through. Once elected, a conservative blogger charges that he is unAmerican because he would use the Quaran when he is sworn in for office. This is followed up by charges from Congressman Virgil Goode from VA. Note how Ellison handles this CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer.
Candidate: Earned Media
Earned Media and Working with the Press Wellstone Action!
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What is earned media?Media coverage that is “earned” but not purchased Wellstone Action!
Examples?“Objective” Press Coverage newspapers and magazines Television radioOpinion Press Coverage letters to the editor op-ed pieces Editorials talk radio blogs Wellstone Action!
Earned Media Challenges Saturated media Difficult to control outcome Potential for message dilution Opportunity for opponent’s message Often resource intensive Wellstone Action!
So Why Use Earned Media?‘cause it’s …• “Free”• Delivers your message to broad audience – more efficient to reach our targets• Educates public, generates “buzz”• Validates campaign for supporters and for opinion leaders and contributors Wellstone Action!
Why the #%$@ don’t they cover me?! Wellstone Action!
It ’s got to be news!!THERE MUST BE A HOOK• Impact. Events that effect many people.• Timeliness. Events that are immediate or recent.• Prominence. Events with well- known people or institutions. Wellstone Action!
Earned Media TipsBe creative and use multiple activities• Hold press and media events• Use letters to the editor, opinion pages, editorial boards• Don’t forget about weekly papers and newsletters• Educate media and opinion leaders on your issues• Online Options – online news, blogs Wellstone Action!
Think of your descriptorArticles need to quickly describe the campaign Create and consistently use your own“Senator Becky Lourey, “Senator Becky Lourey,one of the most left-wing V. a small business ownersenators in the MN State and creator of MNLegislature” HealthCare” Wellstone Action!
“Chance favors the prepared mind.” -- Louis Pasteur
Media Event TipsDefine clear goals – What are you trying to accomplish? – An event – or will a press release work?Have something worth saying – What is your message? Why does it matter? Is it really news?Other considerations – Location; Spokespeople; – Signs/Visual Wellstone Action!
Preparing for Interviews and Events – Role Play – Background – briefing info – Talking points Wellstone Action!
Dealing with ReportersRule #1: Reporters are not your staff.Rule #2: They are also not your enemies. So work with them. Wellstone Action!
Tips for Working with Reporters Create relationships with reporters Be responsive. Nothing is guaranteed off the record. Talk to newspaper reporters like you talk to TV reporters. Never, ever, ever lie. Help reporters do their job. Wellstone Action!
Don’t Annoy or Avoid Them After the signing of the Freedom of Press Act on Monday, President Obama declined to take any questions from the press. "Youre certainly free to ask the question," Obama told the reporters in the room. "I wont be answering, Im not doing a press conference today, but well be seeing you in the course of the week."
Don’t Anger ThemAnd Don’t Waste Their Time Wellstone Action!
Brevity is a VirtueOr … zip it up! Resist theimpulse to fill dead timeby talking. “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” -- Twain, Lincoln, and many others Wellstone Action!
Pivot and Stay on MessageYou don’t have to answer everyquestion asked – make sure thatyou are telling your story. “I think about answering, not the question that was asked, but the question that I wanted to be asked.” -- Robert McNamara Wellstone Action!
Pivoting Gone WrongSen. Norm Coleman – Context: Threeweeks from Election Day ethics complaintsarose around alleged improper contributionsto Coleman. His spokesperson holds a pressconference. Wellstone Action!
Pivoting and ReframingWolf Blitzer:“Virgil Goode is notbacking away from [hisstatement that illegalimmigration will meanmore Muslims will beelected to office anddemand the use of theQuran] –What is your Wellstone Action!reaction?”