Behind the Scenes of Presidential Debates
First, off, it really doesn’t get better than Charlie Rose interviewing Jim Lehrer for my money. I love these two gentlemen. But beyond, my nerd obsession, this interview was incredible because they discuss Lehrer’s book “Tension City” which is a behind the scenes of Lehrer moderating the Presidential debates.
In the interview, they discuss some of the biggest debates and the key moments that affected not just the winners of the debate, but the elections. And many of them were based on body language, gestures, or style - not the words they said. Those of us in communications know the importance of these, but how fascinating to see it in play where the stakes couldn’t be any higher. Definitely adding Lehrer’s book to my reading list - right after Steve Jobs biography.
Image Credit: Barnes and Noble
A few super smart lessons from this interview on Charlie Rose with director Steven Soderbergh, screenwriter Scott Z. Burns and Dr. W. Ian Lipkin of Columbia University.
1) When creating something, make a list of things you DON’T want. Helps you avoid cliche’s.
2) Come prepared, but be present in the moment and be poised to adapt. Dr. Lipkin talks about how interesting Soderbergh’s process is and he shares how Soderbergh is really present on set and adapts scenes as he feels them in the moment. Burns has a great quote about Soderbergh’s style as well, “Make the movie on that day and not before.” That is, don’t go in so scripted that you can actually create in the moment.
This is a major insight into getting real authenticity and high results. Too often we get caught up in the process or the end goal that we can’t see outside the plan to realize we need to change course. (This part of the conversation starts at 16:40 in the interview, but gets into it deeper at 20:50).
My debut blog on my agency’s local office blog. Useful? Not?
This Vanity Fair article <hyperlink in headline> ponders whether Washington is “broken” but I found one of the threads about the “disintegrating media” more interesting and got me thinking (again) about how broken journalism is too.
Todd Purdom, the reporter, cites a few things that seem to stress out the press department.
- Pretty green reporters who lack historical perspective which results in things being blown out of proportion in the reporters mind and in how they report on the issues
- The web has created lots of issues…the always on, always reporting nature enabled by the web has essentially killed what people used to think of as a news cycle - stories post for a longer time period, all throughout the day and night, and everywhere. It’s created a platform and quickness for rumors and inaccuracies to spread and challenge their ability to correct them. And the increase in blogs and the nature of frequent posting of stories has created a climate where PR is asked for comment on every single little thing - if you think back even 10 years ago, there would only be so many articles and publications that covered the news and only so much space for stories, so there was true editing and editorial oversight to decide which issues to cover - now the president sneezes and there’s a blog post on it.
What struck me about this, isn’t that any of this is new, but how much it applies to most PR and news reporting. We’ve adapted as PR people and manage within this new framework, but I rarely take a step back to think - ahhh ‘back in the old days…’. The principles of media and how I was originally taught PR has completely changed. You just get on board and roll with it and keep evolving.
It got me thinking… as PR people, have we started to comment on things that don’t even warrant a comment? Have we become too reactive to this impulsive, unedited environment? Is that good, bad or no change for consumers a readers? Are they getting more transparency and information or just noise that doesn’t really matter? When you take a step back and think about this, would you advise your clients any differently than you do today on press requests?
When I’m thinking about specific press requests, one of the things I always think about is how that story, or that news cycle, will impact the bigger picture of what people read and think about the company. But how big a picture am I thinking about? What’s been written in the past week? Month? How much perspective are you considering? And does longer term perspective even matter for web companies where the landscape changes fast?