No matter where you fall on the political scale, you probably took some comfort last week from the fact that Donald Trump almost – not totally but almost – stopped tweeting for a few days as the nation mourned the loss of our 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush.
My attending the public release of data last week comparing perceptions of today’s college students by the public and by Beltway insiders brought home to me a larger point – how different and challenging it is to execute on PR support for a client that is successful in meeting goals both inside and outside the Beltway. In some ways, it’s almost like trying to do PR in two separate countries.
Data from Gallup shows that confidence in newspapers and TV news are at an all-time low, and as PR professionals this should be concerning for a number of reasons.
In Part I of this series, "Setting the Trap," we looked at a real example of a company that fell for the interview trap, not once, but twice! What fundamental error did the CEO make? She agreed to do taped interviews. By providing 20 or 30 minutes of dialogue for the producers to slice and dice according their agendas, she just gave them more rope to hang her. As a long-time veteran of national TV news revealed, “If we are going to go to the trouble and expense of taping and editing an interview to fit into a news story, it’s because we’ve already determined what the story is going to be and we’re just looking for quotes – or pieces of quotes – to support it.”
Your organization is in full crisis management mode. Armed with legal counsel and a communications strategy, it's time for your CEO to speak to the media. During a taped TV news interview, she hits all the right notes - staying on message, bridging to key points and projecting a calm, but concerned, demeanor. You and your staff rejoice - crisis controlled!
While most Americans were taught in grade school that the three branches of government are legislative, executive and judicial, those of us who can measure our mileage along the city’s marble-floored corridors in triple digits know that getting something done in Washington, DC today requires working with three distinct NON-governmental sectors, as well. What we call the “three branches of advocacy” are 1) non-profit partners, 2) membership associations, and 3) consumer and trade media.
For those who came of public relations age in an era when “desk-side visits” to editors ensconced in high-ceilinged offices in midtown Manhattan were the key component of media outreach, the answer to the question “how to conduct a media tour?” has evolved radically over the past few decades.
A media tour today is still an important tactic in executing a PR strategy, but it is not a be-all or end-all in itself. First of all, the notion of going to New York City for such a “tour” is unlikely to be necessary for all but a few industries, such as fashion, retail or finance. The citadels of journalism along 6th Avenue have largely emptied out or at least changed enough so that they are no longer must-visit locations.
An opportunity to represent your organization in the media can be rewarding as well as unnerving. It's safe to say that we live in age of unabashed skepticism - by the meida and toward the media - so the opportunity must be very skillfully exploited.