Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Good press relations - McCain or Obama?

(photo by Associated Press)
CBS reporter Dean Reynolds offers some important insights on the respective press operations of candidates McCain and Obama.

McCain - mostly on time, with daily schedules printed out to help national reporters plan their coverage. But usually only does one event per day. That makes it much easier to plan and accommodate reporters’ needs.

Obama – mostly behind “schedule,” but most days feel like they’re winging it, waiting for long stretches in the motorcade while the campaign figures out when the candidate will be on the move. And no written schedules.

On the campaign plane, Reynolds says McCain is friendly and outgoing with reporters. Obama does news conferences, but rarely banters with the “boys on the bus.”

McCain’s plane is clean. Obama’s plane is smelly. Eewww!

And while McCain’s events are better planned and his press aides seem knowledgeable and helpful to reporters, Obama’s team, described as “improvisational,” is overworked, under-informed, and not so motivated to cater to the needs of the press.

True, the major TV network types like Reynolds find it hard to accept that the world does not revolve around them. Still, he points out that those dinosaur evening news shows still bring in tens of millions of viewers nightly.

Dean Reynolds covered Obama for most of 2008, until spending a few days on McCain’s “Straight Talk Express” recently. That’s a good editorial move by the managers at CBS, keeping its reporters from getting too cozy (familiar) with one side’s staff.

The differences might be the effect of McCain’s experience on the stump. He’s been politicking since Obama was in NYC as a Columbia undergrad. Barack’s groundbreaking campaign is still the front runner, and they may not have time to organize the details as they crash through battleground states.

Replies to Reynolds’ column say Obama’s got the media in his pocket (“doe-eyed girls for Obama”), so he doesn’t have to care about them. The reporter warns, “in politics, what goes around, comes around.” Good media relations is based on facts, access and a basic human skill called courtesy.

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