The Republican National Committee’s (RNC’s) decision to punish NBC for the “gotcha” questions posed by their CNBC correspondents in the last debate prompted a Pavlovian-like response from this blogger.
The incident occurred at the height of the Reagan Administration when we were collectively basking in being part of what Ron was accomplishing in that shining city on the hill (DC today is more like a trailer park sitting along a swamp-infested swamp).
I was representing a global consulting firm that, shockingly, was spending big bucks on a fully integrated campaign. And, I was orchestrating the entire effort, thank you very much.
In addition to running full page advertisements in Forbes and The Wall Street Journal, I spearheaded an aggressive media relations campaign that quickly bore fruit. Indeed, I scored a major coup by convincing a Journal reporter to write a feature about this virtually unknown consulting powerhouse.
I made sure the writer had access to senior management, clients, former clients and employees alike. The day before the piece was set to run, the Journal reporter called to thank me for opening so many doors, and tipped me off that the feature would appear on page one of the following day’s Journal. I was floating higher than a Kansas City Royals fan.
Around 6am the following morning, my phone rang: “You and your f*cking Journal article have ruined my company! Fire them immediately!” It was the CEO. And, to suggest he wasn’t anything but ripsh*t mad is like saying policemen everywhere loved Quentin Tarantino’s recent remarks.
Back to the story. I raced out to grab a copy, and read the front-page WSJ story. To borrow the tag line of a well-known, right wing network, I found the piece fair and balanced.
I immediately called the CEO back, and tried to explain that all good journalists write objective pieces and that the positive comments far outweighed the negative ones. I also added that news coverage on the Journal’s front page was far more effective than any amount of print advertising. “I don’t give a sh*t. Fire them! And, I should fire you while I’m at it,” he shouted as he slammed down that same poor, battered phone.
I did as I was told. I called the Journal space rep, and canceled our advertising contract. I also made a point of laying low for the next few weeks.
Then, I attended my first senior management meeting since the dreaded Journal piece had appeared and “destroyed” the consulting firm’s business. Midway through a discussion of sales leads, the CEO paused, looked at me and smiled, “Cody, that damn Journal piece has had the phone ringing off the hook. Every lead you’ve heard us discuss today is a direct result of it. Tell the *sholes they’re rehired,” he said. Then he added, “And wipe that sh*t-eating grin off your face before I smack it off!” He was a real sweetheart.
And, so calmer heads prevailed, we continued our integrated marketing campaign and the firm’s awareness, credibility and leads improved correspondingly.
All of which brings me back to the RNC’s knee-jerk reaction to punish NBC. Like the long-ago CEO’s consulting firm, the only people being punished by the Republicans are the Republicans themselves. As Harry Truman famously said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”. It seems to me the RNC has sprinted out of the kitchen, and are busy setting up their own members-only tailgating party that will only serve food and drink that they approve of in advance.
It makes one wonder how the eventual Republican candidate would react if he/she thought Putin was nailing him/her with gotcha questions. I shudder to think of the consequences.