One of the most important ways to promote your event is through so-called “earned media.” By engaging with reporters, radio hosts, and journalists, you will be able to get details about your rally in front of tens of thousands of people (if not more). This is an invaluable tool to driving attendance to rallies, but it’s also treacherous at times. The mainstream media, even local outlets, can be unfriendly to conservatives. Below are some tips in dealing with media requests.
1. Be responsive and engaged.
We’ve discovered that no matter how unfriendly the media outlet is, by giving a quick, honest, and thoughtful response to journalists lead to fairer treatment in news stories. Journalists appreciate not having to play phone tag and being able to get an interview done quickly, which means that even if they aren’t sympathetic to your cause they will be inclined to write a fair news report.
2. Don’t lose your cool.
You will face tough questions and, more than likely, unfair questions as well. Your first instinct will be to lash out, end the interview, yell, or otherwise express your displeasure. DON’T! Your job in this situation is to relay the facts. Our right to bear arms is constitutionally guaranteed, and we’re standing up for those rights. Say it with a smile, even if the interview is over the phone. It’s reflected in your tone and, again, makes the reporter more likely to write a fair story.
3. Be proactive.
In addition to quickly responding to media requests, you should reach out to reporters in your area who cover politics and/or gun rights issues. At the very least, call the newsroom of the major newspaper, talk radio, and local tv networks. Producers are always looking for time filling material, and you have a great story to tell. Who knows, maybe you’ll be on tv?
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Our team is experienced in dealing with media requests – both friendly and hostile. And odds are, so are your local Republican elected officials and county/state party officials. Some of them will be establishment republicans who are hostile to us, but many will be great allies and anxious to help you get the word out.
5. Stay on message.
One of the media’s favorite tricks is to steer the discussion away from your message and force you into a misstep on an irrelevant issue (just look at all the costly comments conservative candidates made about rape in 2012!). There’s nothing wrong in telling a reporter than these rallies aren’t about that issue, that you’re not here to talk about what he/she is asking about, or that you disagree with the premise of a question. But again, say it with a smile and stay on message.