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Posted on 01.19.2010

It’s all about Strategy!

Thanks to Netflix and my avoidance of winter weather, I’ve been working my way through the list of nominees for 2009 Academy Awards. After spending an evening watching Frost/Nixon about British journalist David Frost’s exclusive interviews with Richard Nixon more than two years after Watergate, I am convinced it must be required “watching” for all media professionals.

Its-all-about-StrategyTo provide a little background, David Frost was considered more of a “TV personality” than journalist until he landed an exclusive interview with Nixon by paying for the opportunity. Nixon accepted the request, presumably because of the money and his overconfidence that Frost would soft-pedal through a fluff piece that would improve his public image after the Watergate scandal.

Much to Frost’s credit he did not let the opportunity to conduct some serious journalism slip past him. Granted, he was a little distracted at first, but you’ll find out more about that when you watch the movie. Ultimately, he and his team of assistants researched, investigated, planned and, most importantly, strategized, about the opportunity. His team didn’t just refresh their memories about the Watergate scandal, they learned enough about the situation and the parties involved to pin Nixon into a quasi admission of guilt. They never would have gotten the opportunity if they had not strategized about the opportunity first. As professional strategists, we are charged with thinking through all of the possible scenarios of a situation before acting on them. When we work with members of the media, we strategize first to make sure we accomplish our goals and, equally important, that the reporter gets what he/she needs. We start by asking some of these questions:
  1. What information is important for the reporter to know even if he/she doesn’t ask?
  2. How do I provide that information to a reporter?
  3. Who is the best person to represent or personalize this topic?
  4. Who will benefit from this interaction?
  5. Are there topics I cannot discuss, and how do I respond if asked?
Now that you’ve added Frost/Nixon to your Netflix list, tell us how you strategize when contacting media or responding to media queries.

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