Sarah Palin’s longtime spokesperson, Meg Stapleton, resigned her position yesterday. Mediaite reports it is to spend more time with her family. That article quotes Politico’s Michael Calderone as saying:
[G]etting a comment or sometimes even an acknowledgment from Stapleton could be difficult. I tried several times in recent months on Palin-related stories, and Stapleton never responded, while her voice mail was repeatedly full and unable to accept messages.
So, maybe she was asked to step down? Who knows. Either way, Ms. Palin is looking for a new spokesperson quite capable of handling the media on her own, thank you very much. Calderone continues:
So as of right now the only contact seems to be through Palin’s PAC, which provides a phone number which goes right to an answering machine and an e-mail address with no specific person to contact (email@example.com).
The Mediaite article concludes with this:
Crafty or crazy? Palin is, obviously, one of the most talked-about women/politicians on the planet, and a lot of that talk is not nice. I suspect “responding in her own voice” actually means one of two things. Palin has decided that answering questions from actual reporters is very last decade and is either going to let a combination of her Fox appearances and the take-no-prisoners Fox News PR team do her dirty work for her (one can dream). Or! She has concluded, and not without good reason, that her one-way Facebook mouthpiece is all the public access she requires. It’s worked so far. Why bother with the fourth estate at all when all you need is a catchy Facebook note to derail an entire health care bill.
That’s a fascinating point. Why does Sarah Palin need a spokesperson? Frankly, why does any politician/public figure need a spokesperson? I think it’s pretty simple as to why they do. It’s because they don’t always know how to connect with someone through a microphone. Here’s the thing, whatever your thoughts about her, Ms. Palin is a highly charismatic person that many people agree with. She has nearly 1.5 million fans on her Facebook page and has almost 91,000 followers on Twitter. She probably thinks she doesn’t need anyone to speak for her.
The thing is; she does. She’s at her best when she’s speaking to a sympathetic crowd, or getting tossed softball questions when she’s painted herself into a tight corner (I’m referencing her appearance on Bill O’Reilly’s show regarding Rush Limbaugh and his use of the word “retard”. Video is at the bottom of the post). Ms. Palin has a tendency to get flustered at the first hint of someone asking anything she deems as attacking her. The definition of that, in my opinion, is any question that doesn’t allow her to simply state her talking points. The best example of this was the infamous Katie Couric interview. The interview was wide ranging, talking about the struggling economy among other topics, but the only thing people remember is this:
One of two things happened here. Either she wasn’t prepared well enough by her handlers, who should have been reassigned or fired immediately, or she ignored all of that advice. Ms. Palin is an extremely smart person, of that I have no doubt. She’s incredibly media-savvy as well. However, she needs to have someone to guide her in crafting her public image, and the way she cultivates it. What would you say Ms. Palin’s general public image is currently? I don’t think, generally speaking, it is one that would provide her enough support to make a serious run at a 2012 bid. Does a good spokesperson accomplish that goal by themselves? No. Not even close. However, they can go a long way in getting her image back on track.
Bottom line is this. Sarah Palin needs a spokesperson because she has proven that when she lacks a good one that doesn’t prepare he properly, people lose the message she’s trying to deliver. The focus should never, ever, be you, your company, or your client. The focus should always be on what you, your company, or your client have to say. Sarah Palin doesn’t understand that. She should hire someone that does.
I watched a lot of television this weekend. Mainly because my wife went shopping with a friend on Saturday and was preparing to be a kindergarten teacher for the week on Sunday. A promo for “The Ghost Writer”, starring Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor (two of my favorite actors) found its way into the commercial breaks throughout the random movies and shows I viewed. A TV promo for the movie is below, though I don’t believe it is the one I saw this weekend:
At first glance, this looks like a very straight-forward action/thriller type of film…so why only open in “selected cities”, or in other words, New York, Los Angeles, or other major cities? Simple. Because most films have to build on word-of-mouth advertising after the first weekend, and the American public is rather disgusted with Roman Polanski presently. In case you need to catch up, here’s an opinion piece by E.J. Graff (emphasis on opinion) about the crime Polanski pleaded guilty to about 30 years ago.
Agree or not with Mr. Graff, a large part of the American public feels the same way as he, which presents an issue for Summit Entertainment, the studio distributing the film. It’s no secret that the film community has rallied to Mr. Polanski’s side, defending him. It’s also no secret the two biggest hubs of the film industry in the U.S. are in New York and Los Angeles. Starting the film in these cities allows it to build positive word-of-mouth before releasing it to places like Denver, St. Louis, Memphis, Des Moines, and other cities that represent Middle America. Many potential moviegoers will have a difficult time reconciling their desire to see the film against knowing a portion of their ticket is going to a man they may very likely despise.
I find it incredibly interesting that trailers and television promos for this film highlight Mr. Polanski as the director. In my mind, that’s a marketing liability. Obviously, hiding the fact Mr. Polanski directed the film is not an option; but do you need to promote that fact? I’m not so sure. To me, the film looks like it will be very good. I’m a sucker for political thrillers, and as I mentioned, the two main actors are two of my favorites (however, truth be told, I could do without Samantha from Sex and The City). Maybe this is what the studio is hoping for. A desire to see a (potentially) above average film in the wasteland that is February cinematic releases that outweighs any negative feelings moviegoers may have towards Mr. Polanski. Address the issue in interviews, let the actors speak their opinions about Mr. Polanski, but branding the film as a Roman Polanski picture is a mistake, in my opinion.
If I was marketing the film, I’d market the stars of the film, especially Kim Catrall. Her presence allows the studio to tap into a demographic that normally wouldn’t be interested in the film. Sex and the City fans are incredibly loyal, and with opening weekend being more important than ever for a film, “The Ghost Writer” will need any advantage it can gain in a crowded marketplace.
What would you do? Market the film by branding it as a Roman Polanski picture, or do you leave him out of the mix? Vote below, and let me know what you think in the comments.
Why will I make you look good? Because you’ll pay me to do so of course! Next question. HOW will I make you look good? That’s a better question.
I know people. Not in a mafia kind of way, but in a way that I know how to truly communicate with someone. Creating angles for a story that benefits the client that reporters haven’t thought of yet or aren’t reporting on that drive people to find out more about that client is something I excel at. That builds the brand in positive ways, while positioning the client as an expert on the topic at the same time.
Folks forget that being a go-to source for reporters is some of the best, and easiest, advertising that can be done. The more you are in the public spotlight, the more likely the audience is to think of you. It’s top-of-mind marketing/advertising. Events, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, utilizing Foursquare/Gowalla/Yelp to draw people into your business…it is all part of the puzzle. I’ll help you figure it all out. Find me on LinkedIn, Twitter, and my resume can be found here.
You can email me at lacamat [at] gmail [dot] com or reach me by phone, which is listed on my resume.
Thanks for taking some time out of your busy day to consider me. I know this is the beginning of a beautiful employee/employer relationship!
I was scrolling through my Twitter feed this morning and saw an interesting post from Jefferson City Mayor John Landwehr:
Needless to say, I was intrigued. I followed the instructions, and what happened put a smile on my face. Pushing the number 4 after the 10 second pause takes you to the “Funner” menu where you get a variety of different options ranging from information about cooties to listening to a backyard game of catch or listen to a boy express affection for the girl he likes.
So what does it all mean, Basil? Simple. By doing something like this, it makes you LIKE Nestle, and be more likely to do business with them again, or perhaps be willing to discuss whatever issue it is you have with the company in a reasonable manner rather than just yelling at the first live person you get on the phone. I believe it’s genius public relations. It’s also a huge risk, because it is out of the ordinary.
This wouldn’t work for every company. For example, could you imagine hearing that on Toyota’s customer service line currently? The right company, in the right situation, can do this and build positive name recognition as well as customer loyalty. If I’m faced with a decision to choose between something with a Nestle brand name or a Hershey’s brand name, I am choosing the Nestle product. Not necessarily because it’s a better product, but because I just like the company more.
What do you think? Could this work for other companies? If Nestle was hit with a recall, would they need to take that off their phone system?
No need for introductions. Find me on Facebook here or on Twitter here if you don’t know me, or want to find out more about me. I’ll be using this blog for mainly public relations…um…related thoughts, but I like sports immensely, so expect some postings on that, and whatever I can get away with on the things my wife says.
With that, shall we?
LCEC’s PR Manager, Karen Ryan, at one point tells the TV station that she will no longer give them interviews since she has, “other work to do.” Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think this is a case of a bad PR professional. I think what happened is a case of emotions getting in the way of doing your job.
Keeping your wits about you is the number one thing that prevents situations like the one LCEC finds itself in. Because of the bungling that’s happened, the story is no longer about the large reconnection fees, instead it is all about LCECand its attitude towards the media, and by extension its customers. Telling a reporter you don’t have time for them when you are a public official is the same as saying that to the public.
It appears, without seeing the raw interview video, that Ms. Ryan grows frustrated from answering the same question, asked in different ways. Namely, why does LCEC charge these large reconnection fees, and why isn’t it willing to help out this soldier? In the beginning, I think she’s answering the questions correctly, however, her body language and tone of voice says she wants no part of this interview. That is the key mistake.
What do you think? Is this a one time story if Ms. Ryan answers questions in a differently rather than becoming an ongoing series featured on Fox 4′s homepage?