Sunday, June 7, 2009

POLITICAL STRATEGY: How To Handle A Negative Blog Post As A Talk Radio Host And As An Elected Official

This post may be a little inside, but it's Sunday and it applies Sun-Tzu "Art of War" and Ries & Trout "Marketing Warfare" strategies to the political scene.

You may, or may not be aware of the mildly annoying post on Mayor Sam from Friday that Kevin James made a whole lot worse by discussing it on the air, last Friday night.

AM radio talk show host, Kevin James sent "Mayor Sam" blog publisher Michael Higby a nasty email regarding a post about City Attorney elect Carmen Trutanich in addition to BASHING Higby's blog, very publicly on-the-air on Friday. (The day before he was saying it was his favorite, most researched blog. And that is part of the background. The post brought up the possibility of shadiness over City Council approved fund raising for the city attorney-elect's upcoming transition team.)

What they (Kevin James and the Nuch supporter who was discussing the matter with Kevin James on the air) should have done is call Michael Higby to see, "What is UP with that post about Nuch?" And then you can at least explain your side of the story and hear his side.

But now, it's causing the Mayor Sam people (who voted for and who support Nuch, to go on the offense as their defense. And gives off a bad vibe that Nuch has nothing to do with. I know the handling of this matter is now causing me to post this thread about the situation, calling further attention to the matter, as well.

Now that you have the talk show host AND elected official on the same side (Kevin not only supported Nuch, but he turned the airwaves over into a "NUCH 4 City Attorney" round the clock infomercial including hammering away at Weiss), you may have to start to employ a more strategic show unless you want to end up doing more damage than good. IT'S CALLED STRATEGY. And here's my take:

POLITICAL STRATEGY: How to Avoid Alienating your audience and doing more damage to your candidate than even your opponent could ask for
by "Concerned Citizen"


It's unfortunate that Nuch probably has no idea what has been going on in the handling of this matter, for one, because he is/has been on vacation this past week.

First of all, this is a blog post, and DOES have a wide readership and has proven to be able to raise awareness and has become an actual factor in "rocking the boat," if you will, which I'm sure even the haters will agree this blog has done, or else time would not be spent here spinning, or having "mayoral supporters" calling Higby when there is something they feel is a "stretch" or "inaccurate." (Not that it is, but they will try and spin/clarify. AND, there is a certain "relationship" between opposing sides, that I know Michael respects enough to listen, and is at least sensitive to.)

So between the comments, and the media mentions, and the attempt to reach out over certain stories from the opposition...the blog has impact...


The worst PR strategy mistake that someone could make, would be to get on a radio station and broadcast the allegations over and over.

Sure, you made an attempt to clarify (neutralize it), but when you "tease" the story where you are repeating the allegation that you are trying to run damage control on, all you really did was make a lot more people aware of the issue, and they might not hear your spin three segments later, and may think, "Hmmm, this guy is just a Nuch supporter, anyway...and a certain segment of the listeners WILL feel there is something shady to the issue.

So first of all, I know Nuch cannot control what radio talk show hosts say, but Nuch's people have a relationship with Kevin and I think at the end of the day, the Sun-Tzu strategy would have been not to pour a citywide AM broadcast signal's worth fuel on the campfire.

But it would have been nice if Kevin had realized that, himself. But at the end of the day, he's not a political strategist. But I know he is a Nuch supporter, as am I, so it was extremely frustrating to have to listen to the massive strategic mistake play out in real time, on the air, unable to pull the plug on the discussion.

Secondly, Kevin has been a long time supporter of Mayor Sam's blog, and the day before was on the air saying how it was his top "must read" blog and was suggesting it to his listeners.

So you would think, if all of the sudden ONE post appears that he has issue with, he would call or email Michael, since they have a relationship that has included this type of correspondence and ask him, "What is up?" And try to explain why this is not a pay-to-play situation and explain why it is being done, and how it is not shady.

But Kevin goes on the air and starts blasting the blog and really pulled the fire alarm on Higby.

So then, all that does is cause Higby to explain to me some of the concerns and things to be aware of and some valid questions were raised that caused me to follow up on some questions, myself.

So all of the sudden, although I took issue with the terms "greasing" and "pay-to-play" (even though it "asked" if it was pay-to=play," however, when Kevin starts attacking a blogger (Petrified) and Mayor Sam, who are just two concerned citizens on a blog...AND YOU TURN INTO THE RUSH LIMBAUGH, RIGHT-WING, BASH-MACHINE AS SOON AS SOMEONE DISAGREES OR RAISES A QUESTION (imagine if Jack Weiss had done this, or Anotnio...PEOPLE WOULD BE QUESTIONING IT) reflects badly on the candidate, unfortunately, just as it does when Antonio's "spin-trolls" go off-the-chain and get too emotional and personal with it.

Kevin is kind of an activist broadcaster, himself. He has an agenda, and is able to get away with it. He is in a rare and powerful position.

So here's how it should have been handled:

A) You know that Mayor's Sam's blog, although not a radio station, is influential in the community, and can get people talking and it can spread from there.

B) But, you do not want to repeat negative allegations against the candidate/elected official/your client; HOWEVER, you want to address the allegations and do damage control to try and neutralize it as much as possible.

C) EXPLAIN IT LIKE THIS: I was reading that Nuch is getting his transition team underway. His campaign is out of money since he there was an intense run-off, and he wants to be able to get a lot of work done, before he takes office, so he can hit the ground running on July 1st and have a lot of things in place.

So City Council has graciously passed an ordinance allowing Nuch to accept contributions from people to help pay for things like office space, phone lines, internet connection, and someone to answer phones and line up the resumes and go through the avalanche of mail.

This way, it isn't city dollars being used for this, and any excess money goes into the general fund.

I know you may say, "Well gee, is this on the up and up?"

This is not like someone donating money in a suitcase for a favor where the money is used to buy a new wave runner or pay for personal items.

EVERY CENT will be accounted for and you can see where it was spent.

It's not going into people's pockets and by council making it official it will allow for that transparency.

And I know one thing, there will be the activists and bloggers out there going over those expenditures on the city web site, so I hope you are buying the furniture at Ikea and buying people lunch at Subway, or Taco Bell. None of this Fabian Nunez, $500 bottle of wine stuff or office supplies from Gucci. The people will be watching.

But besides that, I don't think Nuch has some elaborate scheme to funnel shady money for his own purposes. I think he wants to get going as quickly as possible, and this way, it isn't paid for with city money.


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