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BEWARE: Early Voting

The media are hungry for predictions ahead of midterms, and they have their sights set on early voting. But as we’ve warned (here and here), making a prediction leads nowhere good. The safe play is to answer the prediction question by pivoting to what’s more important.

Here’s what we mean:

Q: Voter turnout for early voting is high at 8.1 million and counting, with more Republicans casting ballots than Democrats. Does this mean the “blue wave” is receding?

A: “The high voter turnout is interesting, but it’s too early to make a prediction about results and the “blue wave.” No matter which party controls Congress post-midterms, the issue we need to focus on is <insert talking point>.”

Acknowledge the high voter turnout but refuse to make a prediction. The more substantive answer will pivot to a pressing policy issue. And if they push you to make a prediction, push back by explaining that early voting numbers don’t give us the data we need to make an accurate prediction. Sure, it’s interesting that a lot of people have turned out, and that a larger number of Republicans have cast votes, but there is no guarantee that a registered Republican voted for Republicans.

EXCEPTION: If you’re working on a campaign, you have to predict that your candidate will win. No matter how unlikely it seems, a victory is always the right (and expected) prediction.

The perfect gift for the busy media star in your life.

Know someone on your Christmas list who will benefit from on-the-go media training? Then gift them a Clip Critique!

A Clip Critique is a review of a recent radio or TV interview that covers all the important points in your verbal, vocal, and visual (if applicable) delivery.

We’ll also include tips and tricks to achieve more polished talking points, interview prep techniques, and body language advice.

The best part?

This can all be done via email. After we receive a link to the interview, we will write up a critique and send it back. This process is simple, comprehensive, and it requires no in-person time for you or the recipient.

The best way to improve is feedback and practice, and we know you want the best for your loved ones. So, give the busy media star in your life the gift of a Clip Critique this holiday season.

TUESDAY TIP: “Anything else you’d like to add?”

You prepped for your print or taped TV interview, nailed the sound bite in your first response, and handled the tough questions with ease.

Great job! But the interview isn’t over.

Just as the reporter/host is about to wrap up, they ask you one final question:

Q: “Anything else you’d like to add?”

Here’s what you DON’T do:

A: “No. I think that’s all.”

Most guests are just glad to field questions without making any mistakes, and are perfectly fine to let the interview end. But why play defense when you can play offense?

Here’s how you handle the, “Anything else you’d like to add?” question:

Q: “Anything else you’d like to add?”

A: “Yes. <Insert sound bite>.”

This is the media interview version of a mulligan.

Take this time to repeat your sound bite – the one thing you hope the producer chooses as your on-the-record-statement. By doing this, you increase the chances that the news package will include the most important information, and you want to take advantage of every opportunity to make sure that happens.

B²: Rubio’s Talking Points

On Saturday night, Marco Rubio quickly became a study in what not to do.

In four minutes, Rubio repeated the same answer (almost word-for-word) THREE times. Not only did he make it obvious that the line was prepared and rehearsed, but he played into the narrative that Chris Christie had developed for him of “the memorized 25-second speech.”

True. DMG recommends you prepare talking points for every interview so you can block and bridge to each regardless of the question. But the pivot should always be natural. If you expose the technique, you fail to deliver. It’s a fine line between preparation and canned response. But it’s also possible to walk it. So, what could Rubio have done?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Christie’s attack: “I like Marco Rubio, and he’s a smart person and a good guy, but he simply does not have the experience to be president of the United States and make these decisions…”

Rubio’s : “Well, I think the experience is not just what you did, but how it worked out. Under Chris Christie’s governorship of New Jersey, they’ve been downgraded nine times in their credit rating… But I would add this. Let’s dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing…”

Christie’s continued attack: “There it is. There it is. The memorized 25-second speech.”

Rubio: “<address the attack and call out its inaccuracy instead of repeating the Obama talking point>.”

You can B² (block and bridge) an attack ONCE. And only once. If the attack comes back at you a second time, you must respond to it. In politics, the name of the game is authenticity, which can translate to thinking on your feet mid-attack. Continually dodging an attack implies the opposite. If Rubio had followed DMG’s rules, headlines the next day may have told a different story.