Sarah Palin: Disrupting PR and News Cycles
I never thought I'd say this but Sarah Palin should be given credit for being disruptive. One doesn't have to agree with her politics to understand that she is infuriating the media by refusing to play their game. Unless "the media" can be distilled down to Fox News of course. She's out to change the game.
So how's she being disruptive? Let's start here - “I don’t think I owe anything to the mainstream media,” Ms. Palin said in an interview with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News. That was straight from her quiver, her usual swipe at the "mainstream media" but she didn't stop there. Here's what she was up to last week:
She continued along on her bus tour while refusing to tell journalists where she was heading next. Because of that refusal she's apparently "breaching the rules," the unwritten ones that say she ought to be sharing her logistical travel plans and appearances. Palin loves trashing the rules, she's probably also loving the mayhem as reporters try and tail her bus wherever it's heading. See Sarah Palin's Tour a Rolling Menace.
She battered Mitt Romney's well laid media plans, planned and leaked in advance to the media, to announce his official campaign for President - in an interview afterwards he said, “Palin really didn’t ruin my day.” Yes she did, she, not he, ended up on the front page of the Union Leader. Here's a nice Twitter pic of it.
Apparently by showing up on the same day as Mitt, she "breached campaign decorum" according to some in the Republican party. As the New York Times pointed out, "He (Romney) had designated Thursday as his “announcement day,” and, the decorum police felt, the rest of the field was obliged to stay out of the way in deference to the “unwritten rule” that says Mr. Romney should have the stage to himself on these special occasions. Likewise, the political media was obliged to treat Mr. Romney’s impeccably choreographed non-news event as a news event. And everyone pretty much abided by their designated “unwritten rules;” everyone except Mrs. Palin, for whom “unwritten rules” are just another category of the political orthodoxy to run over like roadkill."
In the same NYT piece we are told that on encountering a Sarah Palin impersonator in Boston she instructed her to “go talk to all these reporters” on her behalf. I wonder what they made of that?
She is a pro at selling herself through media and the more she bites the hands that feed, they always ask for more. Pretty smart I reckon. Palin may or may not be running for President anytime soon but whatever she chooses to do it will be on her own terms. As she asked Ms Van Susteren, why should she “orchestrate” and “script” everything for the media’s ease? “We’ll basically write a story for you, media, about what we are doing every day,” Ms. Palin said sarcastically."
Some of this rings a bell. Once upon a time PR people spoon fed the media. Their tightly controlled messaging was not to be tampered with unless you were happy to be removed from the list. The media lapped it up and played along accordingly. Just as Palin points out that there should be no need for her to meet the requirements of media today, media should be catching on that Palin is a one-woman content machine, operating full-tilt in an Internet age. She is outsmarting them left, right and centre (pun intended.)
Let's not forget that President Obama, when he was running for the Democratic nomination, also bucked some of the rules and he managed to pull off what the Democratic establishment thought was impossible - be nominated and win the presidency. Perhaps Sarah Palin will run, and run entirely by her own rules. Why not? If those who wish to maintain "decorum" and contain each candidate through the nomination process, and when they are nominated go on to "manage" the candidate every day, who really is the candidate? The person trying to win the presidency or the party handlers behind the candidate? I think we know the answer to that one.
So does Sarah Palin. In a word she is bamboozling the political media and the Republican party institution, laying bare their need for predictable timetables and official press releases, refusing to be a predictable, "normal" candidate and refusing to consent to "playing by the rules." What she is doing is being disruptive - challenging the clichés, putting pressure on outmoded systems and refusing to blink. And she's not even officially "running" yet.
Still, running wildly around the countryside without at least a modicum of supervision does sometimes mean that Palin will make enormous gaffes as she did with her revisionist history lesson.
It could be an interesting "campaign season."