Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lessons from the Campaign Trail

It doesn't matter whether you are a campaign manager or running a small business or big one, there are two lessons from the Delaware Senate campaign I want to draw to your attention.

It's generally OKAY to politely decline invitations to be interviewed by reporters and commentators who you know will not treat you even remotely fair. We at ICM have counseled clients to decline invitations from Bill O'Rielly's schedulers and a small handful of other polarizing and argumentative interviewers.

And we always encourage the client to be polite and thank the caller for thinking of them and respectfully decline.

Producers for the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC were turned down when they initially sought to profile Delaware's Tea Party senate candidate Christine O'Donnell. They went ahead to Delaware to do a profile on Chris Coons, O'Donnell's Democrat opponent.

While they were there, they found O'Donnell's campaign headquarters and executive producer Bill Wolff (WITHOUT CAMERA) was "buzzed" into the building.

Two men, who appeared to be PR types he said, came out to talk to Wolff and after he identified himself, ask again for access to the candidate or someone who could speak for her. A third man appeared and told them their request was "unacceptable."

And then the representative of the O'Donnell campaign offered a sort of explanation for turning down the request saying to the producer, Maddow was "classless" and had trashed their candidate.

Again, it was probably appropriate to decline the interview request, but there's an old saying, "don't get in a pissing match with the people who buy their ink by the barrel newspapers) or own the big stick (TV stations) at the edge of town."

They will always have the last say!

What the O'Donnell campaign person did was give the Rachel Maddow Show a free shot at the campaign. They didn't storm in with cameras running. One man walked in and asked again, if they would reconsider the request for an interview. He basically was insulted and shown the door.

The campaign did not need that negative kind of story. But they got it. A simple "no thank you" would have guaranteed a line in the Delaware Senate Campaign profile saying Christine O'Donnell refused to talk to Rachel Maddow."

I hate it when that happens, but the explanation the unnamed campaign representative used was even worse.