Three things to consider before major media exposure
As I sip my morning coffee and view last night’s election results, I’m evaluating the power of the media once again; I’m contemplating if a small tweak here and there in the candidates’ media presence could have changed the outcome. I find myself reflecting to a conversation just a few days ago with a former White House speechwriter:
Troy Senik was a member of the Bush Administration and the youngest presidential speechwriter to date. What I recall most from the evening that I sat with him is his explanation of how political campaigns can be forced to respond slowly to attacks in the media.
The subject of dirty political commercials was raised to Troy, and then a very specific question about one smear that seemed easy enough to rebut. “Why,” the question was posed with disbelief and a bit of frustration, “doesn’t she just explain her situation and stop this madness?”
His answer gives surprising insight into the logistics of a political campaign: A rebuttal can be formed quickly, but then it must pass through about 90 people on the team before it might actually surface in the media. With the crazed schedule of a political campaign, quite often the people who must approve the rebuttal that could save the candidates reputation cannot be reached. It’s as sadly simple as that.
So, if that politician referred to in the question had the opportunity to “explain her situation,” could it have changed the outcome of the election? There’s a very good chance. But timing is everything.
What can we learn from this?
Fortunately, most of us do not need the approval of 90 people to speak, but those who have a PR person or media trainer can have some extra support in this arena, and that’s a good thing.
The media can be unrelenting, and sometimes downright mean, but prevention is the best medicine against this modern threat. If you are a high profile professional taking the next step and preparing for media exposure there are three things that are crucial:
- 1. History examination. And I mean with a fine-toothed comb, and surgical precision. Revisit any situation in your past that may deflect from your current point of view or beliefs and prepare your answer should a question be raised. Use positive words, and bring the focus back to your current intentions.
2. Self examination. Review your current situation in life, your political and religious views included. I believe in being authentic, but there may be some things that, at least in the beginning of your media exposure, you might want to categorize as “back burner” lest your mission be diluted or misunderstood by the public initially.
3. Know your strengths. This is not just for politicians, but it is a key for anyone headed increasing media exposure. Being true to yourself, and authentic in your brand can help to make the media your biggest asset, even if you deal with controversy, being able to bring it “home” to your area of strength and intellect is the key to media success!
It will take time to be thorough with the steps above, but your reputation is worth it!