Sep 28, 2008
csalomonlee

Sarah Palin – Media Training 101!

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin

Oh my gosh. While I’ve voted mainly Democrat, this post isn’t about the politics of the election. Rather, did you SEE and HEAR those interviews with Katie Couric and Charles Gibson.

Considering that Palin has been out of the public since being announced as the VP pick, I assumed that she’s been undergoing intense media training. There is a huge interest in her that her initial interviews will be a pivotal point in her candidacy. Each response will be reviewed and dissected heavily.

In reviewing the interviews on YouTube, I wonder if her media trainers underestimated the level and depth of questions that she was going to be asked. From her general background and political record to energy and foreign policy, it seemed that Palin was only able to give canned responses.

Now don’t get me wrong. One aspect of media training is how to handle tough questions, respond yet smoothly transition to the message that you want to communicate. Bill Clinton was the maestro at this. Very smooth. Very articulate. And was able to shift the conversation.

The Palin interviews demonstrated her weaknesses
- She responded with canned messages to EVERY question
- She allowed herself to be cornered on questions which led to
- Her answering questions she shouldn’t had
- She was visibly uncomfortable with the speed and style of questions

What’s the net net?

For a woman with so much charisma, it’s confusing that she is unable to match that charisma as a public speaker and interviewee. Eventually, charisma will only take her so far unless she can back it up with substance. It will be interesting to see what progress is made before the VP debates on Friday Thursday.

If I were on her team, the points I would work with her on are:

Visible presence: when Sarah is easy going and relaxed, she can be persuasive with her viewpoint. She will need to keep this cool when pushed for details and better understanding of her views beyond “high-level” sound bites

Bridging Responses: bridging is how to take a question and smoothly transition it to the topic you want to discuss. Again, Clinton was great at this. For example, when asked about foreign policy, a bridge would be:

 - addressing the question: “Foreign policy impacts our country”

 - the bridge: “as we’ve seen this become intertwined with”

 - move to your topic: “our energy and security policies. As the governer of Alaska”

- and respond: “we understand how to protect our energy supplies” blah blah blah

Prepare, prepare, prepare: In the end, it comes down to preparation. Palin’s team NEEDS to ANTICIPATE all questions. They can’t assume that charisma and surpise at her nomination will carry to the end. This requires intense preparation and on-camera rehearsal. Most importantly, they need to replicate the Gibson and Couric interviews. Get her comfortable with uncomfortable situations and questions.  

Conclusions

Overall, Palin needs to overcome her weaknesses before her debate with Biden. The country is watching her and this will be a critical point not only in her public career, but also the direction of the campaign. If she can harness the charisma while competently communicating her experiences, the election will only become more interesting.

What do you think?

 

All content copyright Cece Salomon-Lee, Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, with the attribution: By Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing, and a link to the post.

5 Comments

  • @Media Training – I believe that Palin help shore up the conservative base at the expense of the moderate and undecided vote that McCain needed for this election.

    I’ve heard that up to 30% of votes are being cast early. It will be very interesting to see how this election turns out next week.

  • 100% accurate with your post. She has been media trained, but she doesn’t have the brain to cope with these questions. Won’t really matter anyway as her appearance for the Republicans has cost them the election.

  • I agree that preparation, anticipation and on-camera rehersal will be key for Palin. There is no substitute though for education — a good reporter like Gibson or Couric will blow that bridge right out of the water. In a debate format, she can bluff till the time runs out, but in a recorded interview a reporter is like a dog with a bone. At some point she has got to answer the question with substance and honesty. Even if it isn’t a perfect answer, the people will forgive a lack of experience on foreign policy (as in Obama’s case) before they will fall for a bunch of hooey.

  • Thanks Cam. I do try =)

  • I’m impressed. Very constructive, balanced analysis. Good work.

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About

Cece Salomon-LeeCece Salomon-Lee is director of marketing for ACTIVE Network, Business Solutions division, and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.

This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.

Learn more about Cece.

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