Obama’s Immigration Speech: 16 Media Training Lessons

November 20th, 2014
  1. Obama cited border security achievements. Lesson: Outline achievements before proposing controversial ideas.
  2. Obama discussed business leaders. Lesson: Identify target audiences and attempt to win their support.
  3. Obama talked about his deportation efforts. Lesson: Address your critics. Again, explain achievements.
  4. Obama talked about illegal immigrants worshiping at churches. Lesson: Humanize your controversial issues.
  5. Obama mentioned George Bush’s point of view. Lesson: Find common ground with someone critics might relate to.
  6. Obama mentioned term “amnesty.” Lesson: Face head on terms that critics use to characterize an issue.
  7. Obama addressed critics questioning his authority. Lesson: Again, don’t ignore your critics. Address them.
  8. Obama stated “Pass a bill.” Lesson: Determine short, snappy sound bites media will gravitate to.
  9. Obama said single issue shouldn’t create gridlock. Lesson: Anticipate and address future problems.
  10. Obama mentioned concern of immigrants taking jobs, hurting middle class. Lesson: Don’t ignore critics.
  11. Obama talked of immigrants picking fruit, making beds. Lesson: Humanize topics for media. Paint pictures.
  12. Obama talked about ripping children from parents’ arms. Lesson: Tap into an issue’s emotions.
  13. Obama talked of immigrants leaving America and starting businesses elsewhere. Lesson: Explain why you’re offering solutions.
  14. Obama mentioned his own children. Lesson: Executives should personalize their ideas. Don’t be robotic.
  15. Obama told story of student. Lesson: The media want to interview real people impacted, not just business leaders.
  16. Obama quoted scripture, raising moral question. Lesson: Try to connect with all potential, target audiences.

Media Training

Media Training: Uber Exec’s Twitter Apology To Reporter

November 20th, 2014

Read this BuzzFeed story to learn what led to the apology. The reporter addresses the situation in her story and explains the executive also called and emailed her.  Today’s media training lesson:  Never consider anything off the record. Just ask Mitt Romney.

Revlon’s Short & Sexy Video For “Love Is On” Campaign

November 18th, 2014
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Personalizing Your Company: GE’s Mom Video

November 17th, 2014

How well do you believe GE personalized its company with this video? Where is her mom?

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Farting CEO Uses Video To Answer Critic Of Period Ads

November 14th, 2014

If someone on social media mocked your company, would you use a video such as this to respond?

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Bono’s “Crisis Communications” Video

November 13th, 2014

Bono of U2 addresses criticism after Apple automatically put the band’s new album onto the playlists of millions of iTunes users.

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Post Office’s Employee Communications Video: Grade B

November 10th, 2014


The United States Postal Service posted on YouTube a video of the postmaster general’s message to employees about a cyber intrusion of the USPS network. A YouTube message states the video owner disabled playback on other websites. To watch the video, click on YouTube’s logo on the bottom right corner of the video to watch the video on YouTube itself. You can also visit YouTube and search for the United States Postal Service YouTube channel.

Our initial reaction is the postmaster general’s delivery is dry and robotic. We don’t know him, but maybe he’s a nice guy who is reserved. He sounds sincere. Other than his delivery, his actual messaging is good and we give him and his organization credit for using video to share important information. The video includes graphics with bullet points of key messages. The postmaster general explains where he and employees go from here, what they need to do and how to address customer questions. We knock an otherwise solid effort down one letter grade for a dry delivery. Grade: B

Judging Obama’s Net Neutrality Video

November 10th, 2014

We applaud President Obama for posting a video to relay his message about net neutrality. We also like how the shot composition slightly changes during the video. But we offer some recommendations. Sharing a specific story of how a lack of net neutrality can hurt a consumer would have been a strong addition. Also, adding other video related to the topic is preferable to showing the president on camera during the entire video.

Takata’s Statement Displays Disappointing PR Tactics

November 9th, 2014



A New York Times article raised accusations about Takata, which makes airbags, and the company released a statement that we believe includes some disappointing public relations tactics.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges owners of certain vehicles to act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags.

The Times article reports Takata, according to two former employees, conducted airbag tests in 2004, did not alert federal regulators about possible danger, discounted results and ordered technicians to delete data and dispose of airbag inflaters.

After the Times report, U.S. senators called on the United States Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation.

The Times reports Takata declined to comment for its article but later issued a statement. The Times published portions of the company’s statement. We could not find the full statement on Takata’s website, but a website called Automotive News says it published the statement in full. The statement we read on Automotive News’ website disappointed us by stating:


  • “While the Company will not comment on the details of anonymous allegations, the allegations contained in the article are fundamentally inaccurate.”

We recommend companies address the allegations instead of attempting to dismiss them with vague words such as “fundamentally inaccurate.” When companies genuinely cannot comment, they should explain why. Does company policy prevent discussion of on-going investigations? Does the company need more time to gather facts and doesn’t want to share inaccurate information? Manage a situation head on because some readers will interpret words such as “fundamentally inaccurate” as carefully chosen, verbal window dressing with loopholes.

  • “Takata takes very seriously the accusations made in this article and we are cooperating and participating fully with the government investigation now underway.”

These words are practically a textbook template for companies engaged in crisis communications. But we consider such sentences to be empty. How many companies don’t take similar accusations seriously? How many companies refuse to cooperate and participate in government investigations? Put in less intelligent terms, we shout, “Duh!” (This reminds us of banks with signage stating, “24-Hour ATM.” You want credit for not closing the ATM at 6pm?) In general, the public and media will not provide companies brownie points for these statements, which can backfire because they don’t address the immediate questions. Either exclude these statements or provide further detail of exactly how the company is cooperating and participating.

  • “The company continues to work closely with automakers and federal regulators to address the issues related to airbags and to provide the replacements needed.”

Duh! Too many businesses continue to disappoint us with how they handle tough questions. Furthermore, we recommend employing techniques that encourage companies to provide interviews to the media instead of statements that can’t answer follow-up questions and leave crucial details unclear.

Media Training: Hillary’s Stump Speech Stumble

October 28th, 2014

While speaking for a candidate, Hillary Clinton sparked attention with a comment about businesses and corporations. The media training lesson:  Practice focusing on two or three key messages to prevent deviating and making misstatements that might haunt you.