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Media Effective As Your Message

In my role as Spokesperson at My Vote is My Voice, I have been researching press issues. My notes may benefit some of you, so I've copied them into this posting. The majority of this material is from my notes from a seminar that I took at the Massachusetts Democratic State Convention this past May. Scott Ferson of the Liberty Square Group was the presenter on Media Mastery (Spin or Policy).

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference. Freedom of expression consists of the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and the implied rights of association and belief.

Media Only as Effective as Your Message
Make sure you know what and why you’re doing what you’re doing. If there’s a problem, be prepared to provide the solution. Be prepared: know what you want to say and how you’ll say it.

Example:
Congressman Markey’s desk was moved out into the hallway because he was taking a stand on an issue. His message was: “You can tell me where to sit, you can’t tell me where to stand.”

People are Busy
Hard to focus on a whole array of candidates, particularly when w/in same party.
The result is the message is dummed down to lowest common denominator.

Effect of Spin
Positive spin brings votes in.
Negative spin works more effectively. When behind in polls, campaigns do negative spins. It represses votes.

Rules for Dealing with Reporters
· First rule, don’t lie to the media.
· Remember that you’re always on the record with a reporter. Any conversation you have with a reporter you might read in the newspaper the next day.
· Form relationship with reporter. Talk to them: Your job is to pitch the story; reach an agreement on how to do that.
· When you’re creating news, others have to react to it. Use media to convey news first.
· You don’t always have to answer every question that is asked.
· Thank them for their question. Define the issue and don’t let them define you. Find commonality within the Party. Keep it simple. “Nobody keeps it simpler than GWB. He can’t make it more complex but he can keep it simple.”
· Remember that the Editor writes the headlines—not the reporter.
· Calculate your risk, could let another reporter scoop the story if they promise to run the real story. If asking a question that is out of place with topic, just say “that’s a misplaced question.”
· Follow up with reporter first if misquoted. Then go to editor if necessary but only if it’s worth sacrificing your report with the reporter. Corrections reported in the media do not make up for the misquote. Multiple hits on the internet, not printed in same location as original article, etc.
· Therefore, ask the reporter to read back the quote to you to make sure they’ve got it correctly.

Protect the Candidate
Never let the candidate stand alone—whether it’s interacting with media or holding sign, etc. Discuss ideas with somebody before talking to the media.

What do you do when a reporter says, “I’m on deadline I need to speak to the candidate.” Make sure you have got details about the questions/topics before let candidate talk. Make elected officials accessible but don’t let it happen cold.
Frame candidate with podium, don’t let him/her stand out there unboxed; can be perceived as wild or over the top otherwise.

If problem arises, manage your boss. Develop a plan and don’t give additional info out to a reporter, wait to answer questions.

Example:
Press sect’y: If reporter asks you a question that you’ve been blindsided on. Find out where, when, who? Say that you’ll immediately get back to them. “When I know rest of story, you’ll be first to know.” If they are reluctant to give information from their story, you can try, “Your candidate is a busy person—help me out: where, when, who.”

Press Definitions

1. "On the record" -- Can be used in print, and may be attributed to you
2. "On background" -- Not to be attributed to you by name. The story itself might refer to you as a "source" from the campaign.
3. "Deep background" -- Not to be attributed to you, even as an anonymous source--should be avoided.
4. "Off the record" -- Cannot be used in a story.

AGAIN, remember that you’re always on the record with a reporter, despite definitions you use to describe information you are providing.

Posted by Jessica Falker on July 14, 2004 at 01:42 AM | Permalink

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Posted by: Charlene | Aug 3, 2004 9:50:56 AM

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