My First Webinar: PR Tips from the Presidential Campaign

My first webinar and I nearly missed it!  I’m on a tight schedule and this webinar fit perfectly in between my classes.  However, I didn’t have much cushion room.  It turns out i needed to download new software, which made me miss the first part of the presentation.  I don’t think I missed too much though.

So, here is my take on Brad Phillips‘ (AKA Mr. Media Training) 10 PR Lessons from the 2012 presidential campaign.

1. Make sure your messages address your audiences’ needs, not your organization’s image

Ok, so I missed most of what Phillips said here since I was frantically trying to download whatever it was I needed to join the webinar.  But, what I got from this section was that your audience doesn’t want to hear about your organization, they want to hear about how your organization can help them.
For example:

A. Our organization strives to improve education for students.

b. Our organization sends supplies to over 500 schools in impoverished areas.

Sentence B would be the better choice since it is clearly stating how the organization is solving the problem of underfunded schools.

2. Speak in straightforward language

In part of Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, he has able to clearly state how he felt Romney is a bad presidential choice because of his inability to explain how he plans to reduce U.S. debt.  This is an example of how clear language wins support and how unclear language can push people away. Here is a clip of Clinton’s speech:

3. Actually care about what you’re talking about

Phillips argued that Obama lost the first presidential debate because he just didn’t look like he cared.  He didn’t seem to care about the topics and didn’t care about the debate.

4. When in public, always assume someone is listening . . . or watching

One of the biggest controversies of this campaign comes from Romney’s 47 percent comment.  Romney had made that statement under the assumption that he was in a private space, but how are you ever in private when there are the people around?  When you are with anyone, except maybe close family and friends, assume that someone who might not agree with your view points is listening.  And of course, don’t forget that with smartphones, blogs and social media, everyone is a reporter.

5. Don’t leave anything to chance

Apparently Clint Eastwood had no idea what he wanted to say at the Republican National Convention until he got there.  That’s when he found a chair and inspiration hit!  Love it or hate it, the Eastwood speech is the most memorable part of the RNC.  Even if you loved it, the media didn’t and negative publicity is something every presidential candidate should avoid.  So, if you’re having a guest speaker, you might want to see an excerpt of the speech before the event, just in case.

6. Beware of the “Seven Second Stray”

The Seven Second Stray is what Phillips calls those few precious seconds when a public figure strays from his or her message to say something like, “I want my life back,” which was made infamous by BP CEO Tony Hayward.  Obama and Romney have both made a few Seven Second Strays. Even though several of them are because these comments were taken out of context by the media, anyone in public eye needs to remember that one sentence can turn the public against you.

7. Plan to Blank out

Everyone has done it.  You’re in the middle of a speech when suddenly you have no idea what you were supposed to say next.  Thank goodness for powerpoint slides!  They are the perfect presentation cheat sheet.  Unfortunatley, political candidates often don’t have these amazing cheat sheets during interviews and debates, but they are still destined to blank.  To avoid Herman Caine’s major blank and to make sure you don’t miss a major point like Rick Perry, plan for the blank.  Phillips suggested finding a good transition statement to move away from the blank.

8. Be honest and upfront

If someone finds some dirt on you,or your client, talk about in your terms, not the media’s.  Don’t slowly let the truth out.  If you don’t talk about the issues upfront, the media will hunt it out and your image, or that of your client, will suffer for trying to hide it.

9. Anger can work if it’s controlled and on message

Newt Gingrich used his anger well during a North Carolina debate.  The first question asked was whether or not Gingrich wanted to comment about the spreading rumors of his affair.  Gingrich’s initial statement was, “No, but I will.”  The audience ate it up!  Gingrich clearly showed he was angered by the question but throughout his response he remained in control on topic.

10. Turn liabilities into strengths

If you’re trying to pitch a pricy campaign and your client seems unsure, talk about the costs of not following the campaign.  This is my favorite example because it it applicable in so many situations.


One thought on “My First Webinar: PR Tips from the Presidential Campaign

  1. Pingback: Spam Alert! | Breaking and Entering

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