We stand at the convergence of a pandemic, a partisan arm wrestle leading to a general election, a mass movement of workers to home offices, health care’s rebound and infectious disease management mandates, and the future of economic re-openings. In the midst, innovation companies have solutions poised to provide critical results to their market and need to be heard.
- Create a message that aligns with your market, in their context. What an innovation company’s market needs to hear and what is blaring in the mass media are two different things. Infuse the PR with the market’s perspective and its challenges. Seek to shed light on the distinct challenges of the market and the factors it must manage and balance.
- Avoid partisan phrases in PR messaging. There are subtle ways innovation companies can inadvertently trip the partisan wire. It’s important to frame all messaging in an objective logic. If it’s unavoidable to have a partisan tinge to the offering, seek guidance to prepare talking points and a framework of logic when responding to reporter’s questions.
- Train spokespeople to avoid personal political positions. In most cases, corporations do not want their spokespeople to communicate from their personal political leanings. I would guide companies not to assume this is understood, but instead provide coaching through their PR team on avoiding expressions of personal political positions during conversations with the media.
- Know the reporter you are dealing with. As part of anthonyBarnum’s program, every reporter is researched prior to an interview. By analyzing a reporter’s preferences, marketers can sidestep or better manage key media visibility opportunities that may get political.
- Train spokespeople to bridge. Should the reporter ask questions that are politically fueled, bridging techniques come in handy. As part of media training, there are simple techniques for avoiding these loaded questions.
- No matter where you stand, it is okay to reference the Administration. Innovation companies should not be so worried about partisan stances that they avoid referencing Administration-related regulations, laws and concepts. Reporters are covering the news; they need interpretative experts and will not automatically assume because you understand or even agree with the regulation that your company voted a certain way. Reporters can discern past one-dimensional assumptions.
Is it okay to have a political affiliation?
This is an important question. There are some innovation companies serving markets that have a well-known legacy of leaning right or left. The way we manage this is to help companies focus on what their markets need to understand, in the context of the benefits to their market. Whenever feasible, we nudge our clients to avoid presumptions about the political loyalty of their audiences. For the most part, however, reporters covering an industry with a known leaning do not tend to hyper-focus on it…because it is old news.
There are absolutely circumstances where leaders of a company may seek to align with a political party. In some cases, the brand needs to show alignment with a set of policies and stance by a party. Even so, the company can take such a stance with a more objective framework and hone in on the benefits to its market.
For the most part, innovation companies need to be heard over and beyond political affiliations. The best strategy is to remain as focused on the importance of innovation as possible. In a media cycle like the one we’re currently faced with, our recommendation is to move thoughtfully and methodically to avoid accidental tripwires.