I’ve just finished reading ‘The Loudest Voice in the Room,’ Gabriel Sherman’s kiss-and-tell expose of Roger Ailes, the uber powerful head of Fox News.
And, I must tell you that, regardless of your political leanings, this book is a MUST read for any PR professional. In fact, “the man who divided America” as Sherman calls him, is a PR genius (he’s a lot of other things as well. But, I’ll leave that discussion for a future blog).
So, here are the three gems I gleaned from “…the brilliant, bombastic” Roger Ailes:
1.) Listen to the audience before you launch your product, service or organization. Before he created Fox News, Ailes first conducted a nationwide survey asking the average American if she felt the existing networks (CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN) represented their views. A whopping 60 percent of people living in what Ailes called “the flyover states” said no.
Ailes saw the white space opportunity and immediately filled it.
2.) Taglines matter. From the very beginning, Ailes wanted to outrage his competitors while telling “the common folk” that he understood their issues with “the liberal journalists who spun the nightly news.”
Fair and balanced, Fox’s now legendary tagline accomplished both goals overnight.
3.) Positioning lines are the perfect complement to tag lines. While “Fair and balanced” struck a chord. Ailes knew it wasn’t enough. So, he hired a legendary ad firm of the day, Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer, to launch the fledgling the Fox News Network.
After considerable brainstorming, Bob Schmetterer struck gold with ‘We report. You decide.’ The positioning line immediately addressed critics’ questions about Fox’s objectivity while empowering viewers “…to decide if (Fox) were fakers or telling the truth.”
Messner later said the Fox positioning line “…was probably the longest lived…” of any created by his firm.
Pick up ‘Loudest Voice’. You’ll find it equal parts repulsive and engrossing. And, if you’re looking for best practices to differentiate yourself, your client or your organization, I guarantee you’ll also find ideas that will inform any future campaign you might be considering.