The Role of Public Relations in Politics is a monthly column written by WWPR member Margaret Mulvihill, examining the role of PR in politics.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Washington Women in Public Relations
I would hazard a guess that the majority of us in the public relations community have taken some type of media training for press, television, and radio. It’s a good idea, really, for anyone in a spokesperson role to have this training. It helps us and our clients in so many ways: appearance, content, delivery. It’s especially useful when your public relations business spills over into the political arena.
In today’s pop-up media universe, your client must always be camera-ready. Your client must always have his elevator speech ready to roll. It helps if he keeps a fresh shirt and tie in the office and in his car, and it helps if he always looks well-groomed.
Some clients are naturals. They were just born that way! Some clients are ready and willing to make whatever small changes need to be made. Some clients will take our advice and do a little media training. But what do we do with the client who believes that he is perfect from the soles of his scruffy shoes to the top of his tangled mop?
I know you hear me. We have all, have we not, been there! We have all had that one client that resisted all our efforts. That one client who refused to listen to any advice. That one client most in need of help in just about every area, from personal appearance, to speaking points, to tone. The client who came to you already weighed down with negative baggage.
So what do we do with and for this client? Well, we work as hard as always, if not harder, to get print, radio and television interviews. We request and share feedback with the client, in the often vain hope that this will persuade him to get a haircut, drop 40 pounds or buy a new suit.
NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME
Bringing in an outside media trainer under the guise of videotaping 30-second segments for online advertising is a good approach, an approach that frequently works. If your client is still resisting appearance upgrades, don’t panic. Sometimes, improving the message works. A set of polished speaking points, crisply delivered, can sometimes overcome appearance. If your client is still resistant after all feedback has been delivered, well – there really isn’t anything you can do for that client. If you are already in a contract situation, continue to do your best with what you’ve got.
Then grab the popcorn, sit back, and watch the show. Some clients just aren’t ready for prime time!