How to talk about the ERA

In February, the House of Representatives voted to reconsider the Equal Rights Amendment. And just this week, FX is set to launch a mini-series detailing conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly’s fight against the same in the 1970s. For these reasons, it’s a timely issue to message.

But it’s also a tricky issue to message because arguments in favor of the ERA are highly politicized and emotionally-charged.

Here’s how we suggest you talk about it, with the help of the Independent Women’s Forum:

#1 — Start with common ground.
Even though we don’t support the ERA, we agree that women should be treated equally under the law. The good news is: women already enjoy equal treatment under the law as it’s illegal to discriminate based on sex. But you first have to state that equal treatment of women is important to you BEFORE you transition to why the ERA is bad legislation so people don’t immediately dismiss your argument.

#2 — Use examples to show that erasing sex distinctions is harmful to women.
A provision of the ERA is to erase sex distinctions, which is harmful to women. Examples abound and will help you make this point — “separate restrooms and locker rooms in public schools; the military draft for males; Social Security spousal benefits; the Department of Agriculture’s Women, Infants, and Children program; the Violence Against Women Act; grants for girls’ STEM training; and more.” Women would lose these benefits in the name of “equality” if the ERA becomes law, meaning we would be less safe and less free than we are today.

For more information about the ERA and why it’s harmful to women, check out the Independent Women’s Forum policy focus here.

Virtual Training + Coronavirus

Stuck at home out of an “abundance of caution” to protect yourself and others from coronavirus? Us too.

So, why not use this time to refine your media interview and/or public speaking skills? DMG offers virtual training for all experience levels from the comfort of your home.

Just like our in-person training, virtual training focuses on best practices for media interviews and public speeches. Our team will work to identify strengths and weaknesses as well as strategies to further refine visual, vocal, and verbal performance via the same real-time practice and critique as our in-person training.

If virtual training sounds like a great fit for you and your staff, email info@districtmediagroup.com for rates and availability.

How to develop talking pts

Talking points get a bad rap because people assume talking points = scripted. But in reality, well-developed talking points = preparation. And the reason you want to prepare is so you’re able to control the interview by communicating your message regardless of the questions asked.

Below are a few tips to help you develop the best talking points for your message:

#1 — Condense. The more you know about a topic, the more difficult an interview will be because there is so much you COULD say. The trick is to determine what two or three points best sell your message to the intended audience – what do they care about? – and then physically write them down.

#2 — Don’t memorize. Once you determine the two or three points you want to make, it’s important to NOT memorize them. You’ll sound rehearsed if you try. Instead, create bullet points to summarize your talking points. You’ll stay on message and you’ll sound conversational as you allow words and phrases you’d naturally use to fill the gaps.

#3 — Internalize. Now that you’ve written out your talking points and understand how each can be summarized into bullet points, it’s time to practice out loud. You’ll find that your ability to remember and deliver your talking points is much easier when you’ve taken the time to not only write down what you want to say but to also say it out loud.

The One Word Rule

One-word answers to a reporter’s questions are never a good idea until they are.

Secretary Pompeo proved the effectiveness of this strategy in recent interviews around Soleimani’s killing. In the interest of safety and strength, he was right to answer serious questions like “Any plans to evacuate the embassy in Baghdad, sir?” and “Any plans to pull some of the 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq out?” with a simple “none.”

“None” communicated his point, left no room for misinterpretation, and underscored the severity of the situation. But it’s also interesting to note that he didn’t lean into the interview with a one-word answer. He first gave a 30-second assessment of what happened, which enabled him to be concise in his following two answers.

We often encourage clients to fill the time they’ve been given because you only get so many questions to communicate your message. But if the nature of the interview is such that national security is at risk, one-word answers are not only allowed but recommended.

DMG Adds Virtual Training

Happy 2020!

In the first post of the new year, we’re excited to introduce something brand new — Virtual Training.

We love working with our clients in-person, but we also know that time and distance can make it difficult to schedule training when you need it most. Virtual training allows us and you greater flexibility.

Just like DMG’s media training, Virtual Training focuses on best practices for print, radio, and television interviews. Our team will work to identify strengths and weaknesses as well as strategies to further refine visual, vocal, and verbal performance via the same mock interviews and critique as our in-person media trainings. The training is capped at 60 minutes and is customizable — we can accommodate anything from a general refresher to tailored prep for a specific format or show.

If Virtual Training sounds like a great fit for your media training needs, email info@districtmediagroup.com for rates and availability.

Welcome, Brielle!

District Media Group is excited to announce veteran publicist Brielle Colby will be joining District Media Group as the new Director of Media Relations.

Prior to joining District Media Group, Brielle worked in all different aspects of media with a myriad of clients from country musicians, authors, and comedians to politicians and CEOs. Most recently, she was the Publicity Manager for Operation Underground Railroad where she secured media on PBS, ABC Nightly News, CBS and more to help spread awareness of their work and the topic of human trafficking. Before she joined the world of publicity, Brielle began at Fox News where she produced guest segments, handled breaking news in high-pressure environments, and routinely booked high profile guests.

“As DMG continues to build its reach and influence, we are excited to welcome Brielle. Her skills and experience are an invaluable addition to the team and will only further advance DMG’s efforts” said President of District Media Group Beverly Hallberg.

“I am thrilled to be joining District Media Group. Beverly and her team have been helping their clients develop their skills and confidence while elevating their message on all media platforms. I look forward to helping their team extend their influence and reach further” said Brielle Colby.

 

How to win the mental game

Nailing a media interview is equal parts technique and mental game, but more attention is often paid to the importance of mastering what you say and how you say it rather than your mindset before and during the interview.

We’re here to say that your mindset matters and will absolutely determine an interview’s success. So, before you put all your effort into mastering talking points, body language, and facial expressions, it’s worth your time to develop the right mindset.

Here are three ways to do so:

#1 — Realize perfection is a process
Your first few interviews probably won’t be great, and that’s ok. There is a learning curve everyone has to face, but the one obstacle that will keep you from making progress is fear. You have to allow yourself to be human, make mistakes, and learn. A good perspective to keep: if you’re speaking about an issue you believe in, the worst that can happen is you’ll think about how you *could’ve* made the point better, but you won’t ever regret making the point.

#2 — Don’t be afraid of the media
A media interview IS NOT a battle of wits between you and the reporter. It’s your job to acknowledge the question asked and then immediately pivot to your talking point. If helpful, think of the reporter as a facilitator. They are there to fill air time and ask questions. It’s up to you whether the discussion is meaningful.

#3 — Always speak to the audience
Consider who you’re speaking to and what you want them to know regardless of the question asked. People are tuning in to hear from you and get your perspective on an issue, so give them your perspective.

Gov. Northam: A Cautionary Tale in Crisis Management

You don’t have to be a PR professional to understand that Gov. Northam absolutely failed in his response to a racist photo that surfaced last week. Between his initial reaction on Friday to the follow-up press conference on Saturday, there’s a lot to talk about.

We want to focus on something that people in the public eye struggle to do—admit they’re wrong. Responding to a crisis isn’t easy as you risk destroying personal and professional relationships, but Gov. Northam’s “apology” fell short as he gave into the popular narrative of “I’m not that person.” 

Here’s how we think Gov. Northam should’ve handled the situation:

  1. Don’t say “I’m not that person.” 
  2. Instead, admit you’re wrong and say you’re sorry.
  3. And then explain what you’ve learned/how you’ve grown since the incident.

It’s painful to admit you’re wrong, but this strategy is much less newsworthy than a denial, reversal, and offer to moonwalk. If you get out in front of the story, the story will never exist.

Makeup Artist Rec!

One of the best parts of our day is interacting with a lot of talented people in many different industries. But maybe the one that has the biggest impact on how we’re perceived is the makeup artist. These people make us look good, and we appreciate them.

Whether in the TV studio, on a stage, or posing for a new head shot, your hair and makeup matter. So, why not trust the professionals to help you look your best??

We’d like to introduce you to Carolyn Berry.

Carolyn is a makeup artist in the Washington DC area. She regularly prepares FOX News talent and guests for their work on TV, but was previously employed at CNN and HLN. She is represented by AMAX talent agency in Nashville TN, and her specialty is developing the look to match the vibe that the client needs for each individual project.

Carolyn is a developer at heart and loves to teach. She held positions as the Education Coach at the Aveda Institute and as a regional corporate beauty trainer with Walgreens. After 20 years in the business, Carolyn is still in love with what makeup can do for the spirit, bringing her talent, professionalism & enthusiasm to every job. She is certified as a master esthetician and licensed educator with a focus on holistic health and wellness.

If you’d like to hire Carolyn for your next event or TV appearance, you can contact her here. We highly recommend you do!

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.