TUESDAY TIP: Tax Day Talkers

While we’ve cheered the passage of tax reform at the federal level, there’s still plenty to discuss and reform at the state level. And Tax Day presents you with the perfect opportunity to do so!

One way to highlight the need for tax reform at the state level is to use comparisons. Comparisons are powerful, because oftentimes people don’t realize how good or bad their state’s economic performance is until they view it in light of neighboring states or the majority of states around the country.

But there are a lot of states, and a lot of numbers to accompany each state’s economic performance.

For this reason, we suggest you check out the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) just released report Rich States, Poor States. It breaks down your state’s performance and outlook based on fifteen policy variables. This is a fantastic resource you should use to cite data points that support tax reform at the state level.

Now, go forth, play up that state pride, and use Tax Day for good!

Spring Must-Haves for TV

Though the weather hasn’t gotten the memo, today is the first day of Spring. Warmer temps and sunnier days are ahead, which means you need to consider how you’ll switch up your TV and public appearance wardrobe. Below are a few of our favorite recommendations for ties, dresses, and products to usher in the new season.

Winter leaves us with very little color, so don’t hesitate to fake it ’til you make it in these first few days of spring. Jergens is the best we’ve found to help you do so.

Couple warmer temps with the anxiety of a media interview or public appearance and you’ll want to take extra precaution to guard against sweat. We recommend packing a travel size deodorant to reapply right before you step behind the mic.

Happy Spring!

Secrets for Q&A Success

Speaking in front of a live audience can be terrifying. Not only do you have to prepare and present talking points to keep the people engaged, but you will likely have to answer questions at the end.

Sometimes Q&A provides insightful commentary and allows you to talk more in-depth about an issue; other times, you field a filibuster and/or hostile questions you’d rather not answer.

It’s a risky situation, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself and the audience.

Here’s what we suggest:

Step #1: Set ground rules. You might think this is an unnecessary and condescending step, because who doesn’t know how to handle themselves during Q&A?? Turns out, a lot of people.

Before you take the first question, explain that you will only respond to questions (NOT comments), and the questions need to be brief to allow as many people as possible to participate.

Step #2: Don’t follow Justin Trudeau’s lead.

We get it, Q&A is unscripted and less formal. Anything can happen! But a joke or petty correction that leaves you apologizing days later means it was better left unsaid.

Even if you disagree with the premise of the question, or the words/phrases used, don’t insult the asker. Kindly reframe the question, and then block and bridge to the response you want to give.

Now, go rock that Q&A.

How to avoid speculation

Much has been made about the timing of a big legislative victory for Republicans before the 2018 midterms. Will tax reform be that victory?

President Trump certainly hopes so – remember that one time he asked for a bill by Thanksgiving?

Because no one knows for sure what will happen or when, you’re left to speculate if asked about a timeline. But don’t give in!

Here’s how we recommend you respond. Hint: remain hopeful.

 

Q: “Will the GOP get tax reform done by the end of the year?”

A: “I can’t speculate on a timeline, but I am hopeful that Americans will finally get a tax break. <Insert talking point.>”

 

Wherever you take the conversation next, emphasize all the reasons you think tax reform should pass, not whether it will pass. And remain hopeful in your response. Tax reform is a good and necessary move, and we want to emphasize that message whenever we’re asked about it.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

 

Road Rage

We’ll all encounter road rage this holiday season – some of us will cause it by “driving defensively,” and some of us will experience it thanks to the too-slow driver in the passing lane.

Regardless, here are a few tips to communicate effectively from the driver’s seat and avoid the fender bender that keeps on giving in the form of a higher deductible.

Eye Contact
Just like eye contact is key in an on-camera interview, it’s also a great way to guilt someone into letting you merge. And if you smile while making eye contact? Game over.

Once you’ve successfully merged, make sure to wave “thank you” to the driver who let you in.

Use that horn for good
Not all honks are created equal. If possible, communicate with a friendly honk. A light “excuse me” or “you’re about to hit my bumper” tap go a long way to de-escalate the situation.

Be self-aware
If you follow no other rules of the road this holiday season, please follow these two:

  1. The left lane is for passing ONLY. You will anger other drivers and impede the flow of traffic if you stubbornly choose to drive in this lane regardless of speed. Please drive on the right.
  2. If you anticipate needing to merge because your lane is ending, don’t drive all the way to the end of the lane and cut in front of those waiting in line. Abide by the zipper effect. Be kind, and get in line.

We wish you happy and safe travels!

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

Thanksgiving: Bad Food Edition

Want to avoid an awkward Thanksgiving?? Because we do!

Whether you plan to spend the holiday with family, friends, or perfect strangers, we all risk eating a meal (or part of a meal) that doesn’t quite measure up.

Thankfully, (see what we did there?) DMG has a few tips for complimenting the host, even if the food leaves you in a McDonald’s drive-through on the way home. 

Consider one of the following reactions: 

“I haven’t had this type of green bean casserole before! What’s your secret?”

…or… 

“Where did you get this recipe? Is it a family recipe?”

…or…

“Such a unique flavor, I can’t put my finger on what it is. How did you prepare <insert food>?”

Because it may be difficult to articulate a positive food experience without lying, you can always fall back on complimenting the effort it took to prepare the meal:

“Wow, did you make that pie crust by hand? That must have taken you a long time!”

Be positive. Be enthusiastic. And if all else fails, compliment the wine. 

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

TUESDAY TIP: How to talk tax reform

The Republican’s tax reform bill entered the markup process in the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday. Given that passage of this bill would lead to the largest change in the tax code since 1986, this is a BFD.

With every tax reform discussion, the talking points write themselves. The Left cries about a tax cut for the rich, while conservatives support the idea that more money in the hands of job creators leads to…more jobs.

This attempt is no different. The current proposal to lower the corporate tax rate from 35% (The highest in the developed world! Higher than France!) to 20% is significant, and has ignited the aforementioned class warfare discussion.

(FUN FACT: Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer were all too happy to champion a cut in the corporate tax rate a few short years ago.) 

So, how can you fight false rhetoric when advocating for corporate tax reform?

Don’t let the other side define the premise. They will always use words and phrases like: “big business,” “corporation,” and “the rich,” even if the majority of people who stand to benefit from the tax cut don’t fall into these categories. For those of us who own small businesses and know how to operate a calculator (like DMG!), we know that the “corporate” and/or “big business” labels don’t define us.

Words matter, so make sure you talk about “small businesses,” “start-ups,” or “family-owned companies” to paint an accurate picture of who will benefit from this tax cut.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

Smiling’s my favorite!

Stand tall: check!
Good cell reception: check!
No background noise: check!
Smile: check…?

While it might be weird to add “smile” to your radio interview check list, it’s important that you maintain the same facial expressions you would for a TV interview. Even though radio isn’t the visual medium that TV is, using facial expressions changes the way your voice sounds and forces you to be more animated. It’s true that people can hear you smile even though they can’t see you smile.

So, next time you have a radio interview, or perhaps next time you’re on the phone with a family member, practice sounding more engaged. Stand up, smile, and look at yourself in the mirror to watch yourself engage with your invisible audience.

Trust us, you’ll sound more conversational if the audience can hear your emotions.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

TUESDAY TIP: Don’t be like Phil Davison…

It’s one of our favorite political campaign speeches EVER. Not because it’s great, but because it’s so incredibly awful.

So while we suffer through the last two weeks of a few ho-hum campaigns (ahem, VA), we thought we’d remember more exciting times. Like the times of Phil Davison…

Phil Davison, a Republican running for Stark County Treasurer in Ohio, delivered this impassioned speech before a vote for nomination to the office. What starts out as a run-of-the-mill candidacy speech, quickly escalates to full out screaming. Perhaps even more entertaining than the sudden escalation of emotion and volume are the times his outbursts seem uncontrollable.

“AND A MASTER’S DEGREE IN COMMUNICATION.”

“I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR MY TONE TONIGHT.”

“THIS IS THE OPPORTUNITY WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR.”

While Phil offers us endless entertainment, there’s a fairly obvious lesson to be learned about emotion and volume when speaking in public or in your media interviews. Emotion is great. It connects you to your audience, makes you seem more approachable, and keeps people tuned in. However, when you turn your performance switch “on,” make sure slow and steady wins the race. Avoid the zero to 60 approach, unless you want to end up on CNN or the Washington Post’s “best political rants of all time” list.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

Trump, Twitter, and You

Twitter has been the hallmark of Donald Trump’s communication style from the beginning of his presidential campaign until now. The likelihood that he’ll suddenly log off is laughable, especially as we’ve watched him receive overwhelming coverage for these recent statements:

But as the Trump administration moves forward, his tweets will only increase in importance. (READ: midterm elections, relationship with North Korea, tax reform success, etc.)

If you haven’t fielded a question yet about his social media presence, you probably will…and soon.

So, how do you keep the conversation focused on your message instead of the world’s most famous Twitter account?

Here’s our suggestion for how to navigate:

 

Q: “What do you think about <insert latest tweet>?”

A: “I’ll let the TV pundits and communications experts hash out the effectiveness of his Twitter strategy, but when it comes to <insert talking point>.”

 

By focusing on the substance of the policy behind the tweet, you can sidestep the semantics for the most important thing: the issue. Don’t fall prey to arm-chair quarterbacking the tweet itself, focus on substance and you’ll make better use of your 30 seconds to clearly deliver your message.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.