Guess that isn't going to help your cause any!

I was perusing the weblogs last night, and I saw this post from the Clean Cut Kid hacking on Bob Mercer. And all I could think was "Gee, you're not doing your cause any good."

Bob's a reporter, same thing as some people are government workers, some people are truck drivers, some people are teachers, and so on. Each is going to do their job in the best way that they see fit. If they do a poor job, they lose credibility, and ultimately their job.

The point in this is, Bob's been around a while, so I consider him pretty credible.

Now, here's the part where I go into a story. I remember when I was doing work as the Pennington CO GOP Director, and was in my second legislative session of work. The previous year, I had set up a weekly press briefing for the Pennington County GOP. (I've got another good story to come out of this, but I'll keep it on point for now.) It was covered and after a few weeks, it assisted us with our earned media. We had coverage that came directly from this briefing, and everyone was pleased.

And then came Bob.

It was a new year, and a new reporter. And While I thought it would be great to do it again, This political reporter for the Rapid City JOurnal took one look at our little GOP meeting, and said to me "Why would I cover this? How is this news?"

Well.... but... Ah, crap. He kind of had us there. It was set up to increase our media exposure and it worked. But with a new reporter comes a new outlook, and he didn't see why he needed to go to this, as opposed to speaking with the affected legislators - who are eminently accesible - directly on the topics of the day. Bob told me if I didn't agree, I was welcome to speak with his editor about it, but he didn't see the need to cover it.

In the long run, we discontinued the practice, and I didn't go to Bob's editor. What purpose would it have served? In relentlessly pursuing coverage, all it may have done is antagonized the reporter, and gained us worse coverage in the long run. And, Bob really wasn't off the mark at all, no matter how much I wanted the coverage.

For the uninitiated, earned media is that news media or coverage which you don't pay for. It's press coverage of some sort for some reason, and will serve to increase your exposure and name ID. But, as Bob pointed out to me many years ago, for some odd reason, to be covered it has to be newsworthy.

Is your candidate going to walk the neighborhoods? That could be newsworthy on a slow day, but it would have to be pretty slow. BUt if the candidate is going to walk the neighborhoods and talk to people about their health insurance.... well that's a better 'hook' to make it newsworthy.

Many times, all it takes is something unique, and related to a current topic of concern. It's just a matter of going the extra mile in designing your earned media attempt. Make it bold, and splashy. Don't think high school wrestling, think Professional Wrestling! If you can get the coverage based on the spectacle, then you can feed the media the meat of your message.

Back to the point of this post, going back to the comments by CCK. There's an old political adage that says "Don't pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel." It's an old adage, because it's been true for a long time. You might puff yourself up, and make your statement. But you might find yourself paying for it for a long, long time.


Anonymous said…
Mercer lost his ability to be legit when he took a job as Janklow's press secretary. You can't be a pacifist, sell guns for a summer, and then walk back into the Quaker church without looking like a dumbass.

The _to be_ verb regarding Mercer isn't correct. You need to use *was* a reporter.

And the Watertown PO isn't known as much of a quality paper. It's a rag. You won't find talent at any paper other than the Journal and the Argus. The PO, the Register, Plainsman, and Daily-Leader are crap. The Plainsman and Register had their day as decent papers until the hanyacks from Illinois ran it, without oil, into the ground, hacked the staff, and started pimping themselves around town like a meth whore fixing to get high. In other words, they killed the paper and started selling editorial coverage.

The PO was never a good paper. Anyone with any talent leaves those papers with great haste. If you're working at a tiny paper like that, you're making around $20,000 a year with poor benefits. It's a starting point, not an ending point.

My point in this is to say that Mercer is pickled. He's out. You don't start at Stanford with a full-ride then finish your degree at Mitchell Tech unless there's some major failing in your life.
PP said…
"You don't start at Stanford with a full-ride then finish your degree at Mitchell Tech unless there's some major failing in your life."

Actually, Bob's syndicated now, and running statewide in dailies that don't have their own political reporter. (PO. Pierre, BH, Aberdeen, and a couple others).

Anonymous said…
Read Mercers' stuff for Chrissakes! He's better than Kranz, Ross, and Calvetto combined. Criticizing a reporter based on his past employment with zero reference to the reporter's work exposes the critic for the mean-spirited fool he is.

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