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Media Relations 101 - Sarah Palin Video Turkey




Not sure how to classify this Sarah Palin video where she adopts a presidential posture and pardons a turkey prior to Thanksgiving. The media relations professionals and text books may start pointing to this one to illustrate how not to do an interview. Then again, one could argue that a whole library of Sarah Palin interview don'ts now exist.

Sarah Palin and/or her media coordinator did what might be considered an amateurish job of staging the action for this TV news media opportunity. What might have started as a fun way to extend her 15 minutes has turned into 3:09 of YouTube publicity hell.

Watch the turkey worker in the background. And once he leaves, keep your eyes trained on that space... Apparently, the people in charge thought this was a great visual: No one off camera shews the turkey man out of the shot. Worse: Once he finally leaves, he comes back and does his whack job again.

There's a huge media relations lesson here. Yes, newsroom decision-makers mostly only send a camera crew out to cover your event when you've told them a hot visual's planned. But this one of Sarah Palin's wasn't a wise visual, particularly when Saturday Night Live has parodied her unflatteringly as a gleeful moose-shooter. Unless Palin's running for chair of the NRA next, why photograph her anew near fresh kill?

Media relations practitioners sometimes spend hours brainstorming the right visual and weighing the pros and cons of how every element will be perceived. Landing on the right visual requires careful crafting. It's about more than getting out the media and providing talking points. You have to bring 360-degree thought to potentially negative perceptions you could unintentionally stir.

Which is why you'll never see the CEO of Burger King grinning on-camera next to... a Whopper-to-Be.

A picture really is worth a thousand words, isn't it? So what does this one of Sarah Palin "pardoning" a turkey say? Wonder if it occured to anyone in her PR circle that the actual pardoned turkey might have been better to put on camera?

An Associated Press article that hit this morning (in response to the turkey problem?) says that everyone from Oprah, Jay Leno, David Letterman and Barabara Walters to Hollywood and multiple publishers are courting Palin for interviews and book deals. All will make money through her, but I have to wonder who among them hope for another controversial showing to really skyrocket their own buzz.

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