B²: “But guns kill people!”

Last week’s tragedy at Umpqua Community College marked the 4th shooting at a college campus since August. Sadly, another community has been rocked by the horrific intentions of one person.

President Obama didn’t wait to politicize the tragedy. In his press conference on Thursday, he lamented the sad fact that this news story is now routine and that somehow “we’ve become numb to this.” He was visibly mad and stated that tighter gun laws are the answer.

With the narrative of more gun restrictions echoing in the news cycle, do you know how to show sympathy for those who lost loved ones while defending the right to protect yourself?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “Isn’t it time to impose stricter gun laws?”

B²: “Not at all. And while what happened at Umpqua Community College is horrific and unbearable for any family member and friend who lost a loved one, the truth is the best way to prevent future tragedies is to <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, first acknowledge the sad and appalling fact that lives were lost. Meet the emotion of the question by grieving with the Roseburg community, but then pivot to data and examples that support your argument against tighter gun laws.

In summary – start with emotion, but end with reason.

B²: Is Obama a…(fill in the blank)?

The “blank” is most often and famously filled by the words “patriot,” “liar,” “Muslim,” and “citizen.”

We were reminded of questions like this at a recent town hall hosted by Donald Trump. The backlash is centered on Trump’s poor response (or, non-response) to a question about President Obama’s citizenship and religious affiliation. It went down like this:

Likewise, Scott Walker experienced backlash when he offered the following response to a question about President Obama’s patriotism: “I’ve never asked him, so I don’t know.”

With only 15 months to go in an 8-year presidency, it’s amazing these questions still arise. But they do. And you need to know how to handle them if one comes your way. As exemplified by Trump and Walker, both a non-response and a dismissive response generate a losing narrative.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “Is President Obama a…(fill in the blank)?”

: “I take the President at his word. Instead, the question we should be asking is <insert talking point>?”

Wherever you take the conversation next, DO NOT ignore the accusation or assess motive. The media would love to get you on record bashing the President and making judgment calls on who he is as a person. Don’t give in! Instead, just B² it so you can focus on YOUR message and create a narrative that wins.

B²: Government Shutdown

Are you experiencing déjà vu?

It may feel that way as the government will run out of money at the end of this month and a shutdown is threatened…again.

Yes, we’ve been here before. In 2013 the government shutdown over funding disputes and many viewed the fallout as a failure for Republicans. No doubt the stakes are higher as we approach a very similar situation on important issues such as Planned Parenthood, the Iran Deal, and the pairing of increased funds for military programs and domestic agencies.

Some (according to their job description) need to discuss political strategy and answer the shutdown question head-on, but those who focus on policy rather than politics can get themselves in trouble if they try to do the same.

If you’re tasked with discussing policy and a reporter moves to questions of a shutdown, do you know how to defend your position without talk of the politics that want to declare you an obstructionist?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “Do you support a government shutdown?”

: “That’s for Congress to decide, but whatever the result it’s truly sad that it takes such a threat to seriously consider funding issues. <Insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, stay away from the political strategy for (or implications of) a shutdown. If your job is to research and promote certain policies, don’t deviate from doing so. Though the policy you focus on may be driving the shutdown, you can continue to talk about that policy without adding to the media narrative that paints Republicans as obstructionists.

B²: Planned Parenthood (Take 2)

With the promised release of more investigative videos by the Center for Medical Progress, and the looming budget deadline at the end of the month, the discussion over Planned Parenthood and taxpayer funds will continue to make headlines. In the next couple weeks, “defund” is the name of the game.

This perfect storm makes for a news cycle rife with questions about the politics behind it all and can easily create a narrative that pits those who support life against those who support abortion.

But there is common ground – taxpayer funds!

Should abortions that lead to the selling of organs for a profit, many times without the full knowledge of the woman, be backed by taxpayers? It’s a question Planned Parenthood so desperately wants to spin.

While the media has packaged this fight into another battle in the “War on Women,” it’s anything but. Do you know how to take back the message and champion a winning narrative?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “Why are you attacking Planned Parenthood by demanding their funding be eliminated?”

: “This is about making sure taxpayer funds for health care are directed towards accessible, quality care, something women are not currently receiving at Planned Parenthood. <Insert talking point>.”

Whether you talk about the twenty comprehensive care clinics for every one Planned Parenthood clinic, or the fact that Planned Parenthood isn’t licensed to perform mammograms, stick to common ground. A serious discussion about comprehensive health care for women and how it is funded should result. That’s a winning strategy.

B²: Minimum Wage

Now that Labor Day Weekend has passed, you face two very important tasks: 1) put away your summer whites and 2) return to work.

A return to work quickly focuses our minds on the topic of the minimum wage…especially with the majority of Americans in support of raising it. (Hart Research Associates reported in January 2015 that 75% of Americans support raising the minimum wage to $12.50.) With the polling data so heavily favoring one side, it’s no surprise that the minimum wage has become a topic of conversation, especially amongst Presidential candidates.

On a tour through New Hampshire, Governor John Kasich was asked to give his perspective. The Washington Post reported that he “rebuffed the idea of raising the federal minimum wage. He told reporters that any increase in the minimum wage should be done state by state, but that it should obviously increase.”

Not too surprisingly, Hillary Clinton is happy to give her position on an issue polling in her favor. In July she stated, “I think it’s going to be important that we set a national minimum, but then we get out of the way of cities and states that believe that they can and should go higher.”

Much has been (and will continue to be) said about the minimum wage, especially as the Presidential race heats up. But what will you say if you’re asked about the minimum wage and your answer is not to raise it? Do you know how to respond so those struggling to make ends meet are considered?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “How do you expect a single parent to support their family if they only make minimum wage? Isn’t it time to consider a living wage?”

: “The challenges a single parent faces are great, and I have no doubt it’s difficult to provide for a family when you’re only making minimum wage. There is, and should continue to be, a safety net for this reason. But we must look at the unintended consequences of raising the minimum wage <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, whether you focus on how raising the minimum wage will mean less job opportunities for those looking for work, how it is likely to push people out of the workforce, or talk about the burden on businesses, you have to meet the emotion of the question before you transition to your talking points. Otherwise, you’ll sound like you don’t care about people. And if you sound like you don’t care about people, the audience will assume you care only about money…and that’s never a winning argument.

How to Debate Like a Presidential Frontrunner

In today’s Washington Examiner, DMG President Beverly Hallberg discusses why debates matter, the Trump factor, and how the participants in tonight’s Republican debate on Fox News can be remembered for all the right reasons:

“No, it isn’t about the length of airtime (120 minutes tonight for the main debate). It’s about the sound bites that circulate in the 24-hours news cycle and on social media tonight, tomorrow and (potentially) for years to come. Those 10-second clips are why debates, even primary debates, matter.”

Here’s what the candidates, including Trump, need to keep in mind if they want to be remembered for the right reasons this debate season. Read the full article here.

B²: Planned Parenthood

“Crush” is on repeat in the news cycle. This descriptive word alone is damning – but combined with the cavalier tone used to explain Planned Parenthood’s abortion practices? Well…that has placed pro-abortion advocates on the defensive.

On Sunday, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards appeared on This Week with George Stephanopoulos to justify their practices. She deflected questions and instead focused on claims that the videos were “heavily edited” and even said the filmmaker is “part of the most militant wing of the anti-abortion movement that has been behind the bombing of clinics, the murder of doctors in their homes, and in their churches.”

This type of diversion is common when someone is caught red handed. And it can easily trip you up by causing you to focus on how the videos originated instead of their content, which is the sticking point for most Americans – pro-life and pro-abortion alike.

So, how do you champion a winning narrative?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has repeatedly said the videos are “heavily edited,” so is this just another rightwing attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade?”

: “Though hard to watch, anyone who has seen the footage knows it speaks for itself. And most Americans, whether pro-life or pro-abortion, agree that <insert talking point>.”

Whether you focus on the ethical issues surrounding the selling of fetal tissue or the use of tax dollars to support it, stick to the content of the video. Getting into a debate about the legality of the videos (unless you are an attorney) or the likelihood of the right wing conspiracy’s involvement will get you nowhere…fast.

There is common ground – most Americans are deeply disturbed by what is taking place at Planned Parenthood – so lead with it.  If you do, you’ll find yourself a winning narrative.

B²: Iran and President Obama

The clock is ticking. As of yesterday, the Senate has 60 days to give a thumbs up or thumbs down on the deal with Iran, or what is formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

With many democrats on the fence, republicans digging in their heels, 2016 around the corner, and veto threats from the President and Congress alike, we’re headed into the talking point version of the dog days of summer. No doubt reporters will try to drag you into the political theatre.

Do you know how to answer questions about the deal without making personal attacks against the President?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “The President said this is an “historic” deal and has called out his critics who think otherwise. Isn’t this deal better than no deal?”

: “Negotiating with Iran is without a doubt a tough job, but there are legitimate reasons why people, including those in the President’s own party, have raised concerns. Any deal with Iran should <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, it is always helpful to start with common ground. In this case, the common ground is found in acknowledging how difficult it must be to negotiate with Iran. Then, you turn to the concerns raised by such a deal. Remember: your case is made stronger if you can bring in people who normally side with the president. Last, bridge to your talking point that must include a solution. It isn’t enough to say why this is bad without offering what is best.

B²: Donald Trump

Donald Trump is enjoying a wildly successful ride post-presidential declaration. We’ll see if Governor Scott Walker’s entrance into the race will shake up the poll rankings, many of which have Trump in second place.

While there’s much discussion about the reasons for the rise of the “The Donald,” what isn’t in question is the media storm caused by his comments on immigration.

He went on record saying, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best … They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

Though Trump is bringing an important issue to light, his chosen narrative is incendiary and will likely appear in any question you’re asked on immigration.

So how do you sidestep Trump while still offering solutions for a broken immigration system in desperate need of reform?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “Does Donald Trump’s popularity prove that Americans believe most immigrants are rapists and drug dealers?”

: “Not at all. What it proves is that people care about immigration reform and want to fix what’s broken. We can start by fixing <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you go next, keep in mind that it’s not a good idea to talk about Donald Trump when talking about immigration – not if you want to offer real solutions to an ever-increasing problem. Trump’s comments distract from the policy in question and the people affected.

Instead of focusing on name-calling, which will get you nowhere close to affecting real change, focus on solutions that help all people – both American citizens and immigrants alike.

Why Presidential Announcements Matter

President of DMG Beverly Hallberg breaks down the modern day presidential announcement at The Daily Signal:

“Today’s presidential announcement involves a whole lot of pomp and circumstance. And if a candidate is going to stand out and capture America’s attention, there are three main areas where he/she needs to shine: setting, script, and social media.”

To read more, click here.