You have probably noticed that, as a rule, the more successful conservatives are at impacting politics and society, the more attention they will get from the media – and that this attention is almost always biased.
But if you have been involved in politics for any length of time, (or you plan to be), at some point you’ll have to deal with the media. Whether it’s as a candidate, a campaign manager, worker, volunteer or just as an activist, everyone associated with politics is a target of the political media. It’s what they do.
Since they are a fact of political life you may as well make the most of it and be prepared to deal with them as effectively as possible, making sure that the way you go about it actually helps support and advance your goals, rather than set you back.
This means that, in order to be more effective, conservatives need to be prepared to deal with the media. With that in mind, here are some fundamental principles to lay the groundwork for more productive media relations.
Don’t ignore them:
The media is often referred to as the “fourth estate” or the “fourth branch of government”, and with good reason. Whether we like it or not, there is simply no denying that the media has a tremendous impact on politics and society in general by virtue of its ability to help shape public opinion.
Remember, the media goes on without you. And if you choose not to have any input in the conversation, you can’t really complain about the results. Don’t ignore it just because you don’t like it, or it doesn’t like you.
Get to know them:
The better you know the members of the media who cover the topics that you are involved with, the more effective you can be. In fact it’s a two-way street, in that they need sources that are active in the areas they cover in order to do their job. So put together a list of relevant media sources, (TV, radio, newspaper, Internet), and spend some time introducing yourself and letting them know about the issue or group you’re working with.
A big part of media relations is actually knowing them. In other words, build relationships.
Always be honest:
As the saying goes, honesty is the best policy. Whether you’re dealing with reporters on a story, or writing an op-ed column or a letter-to-the-editor, you’ll always have better success and a greater impact if you shoot straight with people and they come to expect that from you. Remember, conservatives already operate under a “cloud of suspicion” with most of the media because of their liberal bent.
Don’t make things any harder on yourself.
The caveat being that, as Proverbs tells us, only a fool utters his whole mind. In other words, some things just don’t need to be shared. That said, make sure that what you DO share is the truth. This makes it easier to keep a productive relationship after you’ve gone to the trouble of building one.
Conservatives already have enough trouble getting a fair shake in the media. Following these rules will help you get better results.