There’s No Politics In PR

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debbie-goetzBy Debbie Goetz, Owner, Debbie Goetz Media Connections

Recently, I was asked by my colleague Debra Andrews, Owner of Marketri and the fractional CMO for Worth & Company, Inc., an award-winning mechanical contracting firm, to handle media relations for a presidential campaign rally at the firm’s headquarters three days later – on my birthday, no less – and I jumped at the opportunity. Afterall, the opportunity to manage local, regional and national media for a presidential campaign is probably a once in a lifetime career opportunity!

The candidate’s team handled getting the rally info out to the campaign’s media pool, including the national news outlets. My work involved crafting a media advisory for local and regional media outlets, making sure that the media outlets registered in advance, creating press kits and providing press materials and credentials to all members of the media who attended. My outreach included the Associated Press (Philly), mainstream media outlets (daily, weekly and monthly), as well as specialty outlets that cover news for a variety of groups including LGBTQ media, Hispanic media and political/government media.

Because the rally was scheduled on fairly short notice, I had to juggle the media outreach on very short notice…something media outlets don’t appreciate. For those news outlets that could not attend, I furnished press materials, photos and any other information they requested, so that they could share the news with their audiences in a timely manner.

Along with all of the media relations efforts, I needed to make sure that the host/client was spotlighted well throughout the day’s activities and afterwards.

For me it was a grand slam effort. More than 35 outlets were in attendance and it was my job to manage all the media that day – national, local and regional, print, radio and TV – from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. when the candidate finished his press tour and left the property.

In addition to assisting members of the media with set up to get the photos, video and audio they needed, I helped keep media management running smoothly for the Secret Service, the campaign staff and members of the RNC, who required advanced clearance for all media people and regular updates on media attendance. I also persisted with campaign staff to make sure that the local newspaper’s photographer was able to join the press pool for the facility tour and interviews with the candidate after the rally. It was not an easy task.

Some would ask why I took the job in support of a candidate/party that I do not support. And I would answer that there is no politics in PR. I wasn’t working for the candidate or the party. I was working for the client who hosted the rally. My goal was to get the media out there and put the client in the best possible spotlight.

How did I keep the politics out of a political campaign rally?

By doing my job and doing it well. It didn’t matter to me who the candidate was. I didn’t wear a supporter’s badge or sticker. I showed up at 8 a.m., worked with the media and the campaign team all day and went home at 6 p.m.

Highlights of the experience?

1. Working with the secret service – Watching them do what they do everyday to protect our country.

2. Viewing the rally from the media risers…it was an awesome spectacle…and when I say spectacle, I mean it in a positive way. It was a very exciting and fascinating event to be a part of, no matter what side of the aisle you favor.

3. As the day’s activities concluded, and while chatting with members of the Secret Service, I was rewarded with a Cliff Bar by one of the agents. After a long and successful day of media management and spotlighting the host/client, it was a most delicious way to end the day.

What did I learn from the experience?

I learned first and foremost that there absolutely is no politics in PR. If you do your job well and keep your eye on the desired outcome, it doesn’t matter what your political beliefs are.

I also experienced how frenetic the media world is…They camped out. Did their job. Packed up. And headed to the next campaign rally or other national/regional or local news event they were assigned to cover.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!

About the Author: Debbie Goetz is a seasoned communications professional, providing communications, public relations and media relations assistance to individuals, small to mid-sized businesses and non-profit organizations.

2 Comments

  1. Dick Knapinski on at 9:15 AM

    Good story and very interesting. We had similar experiences during the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns. Added to that was that my organization is a 501c3 non-profit that was renting a facility to each of the candidates, so we could specifically NOT tell our story in association with the campaign. 501c3 groups are prohibited from directly or indirectly supporting any candidate or party for public office. So in addition to all the items Debbie mentioned, we had to work with media to ensure that stories did not indicate any support for a candidate, and develop internal communications to tell employees that they should not be an active part of the event (including not wearing clothing with our association’s logo that might be seen on TV or in photos).

  2. Debbie Goetz on at 7:10 PM

    Wow! Thanks for sharing Dick. That is very interesting to know. It really must have been a challenge to navigate that rule and get the job done!
    Now we are all joined together holding our collective breath awaiting the outcome of today’s elections!

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