If a great media campaign falls in the woods, and no one hears it...

August 28, 2020

 

Trump zipping through Fox News ads shows how it’s critical not to waste your efforts on those who aren’t watching.

 

In Brian Stelter’s new book, “Hoax,” the host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” program examines the message loop between President Trump and Fox News.  While I haven’t yet read the book, I was struck by Stelter’s interview promoting it with Terry Gross on NPR’s “Fresh Air.” 

 

Stelter described how lobbyists, corporations and even Trump’s own staff use programs and paid ads on Fox as a way to communicate with him – keenly aware of his affinity for the network and its primary role as his source of news.

 

I chuckled at Stelter’s anecdote that paid ads targeted to Trump on the Fox network in the D.C. market largely get skipped over as the president pushes the fast-forward button on his DVR while watching pre-recorded content. All that effort wasted.

 

But it reminded me of the core tenets that guide any strong communications effort, and ones I always keep in mind when working on behalf of clients:

 

(1) Who is your audience? (2) How and where do they get their information and news? (3) Who do they trust, or to what validators do they listen?

 

In other words, how can you get in front of your audience and make sure they pay attention? Your message may be great, but people need to see and hear it in order for you to make an impact.

 

If you’re trying to connect with a younger audience, for example, they’re very unlikely to be home at 5 p.m. watching the evening local news broadcast or seeing those commercials. While it may seem like a great “get” to have a TV hit and an impressive ad, is your intended audience actually watching it?

 

You still have to find another way to get it in front of them, most likely via social media. Maybe there’s an influencer they follow on Twitter whose stamp of approval would be more impactful – and whose endorsement they’re more likely to see than the local evening news.

 

I’ll refrain from my personal feelings related to the subjects of Stelter’s book, but the lesson for communications professionals is well taken. Know your audience, and meet them where you can be sure to get your message in front of them. 

 

Meredith Montalto is a Director in Ceisler Media's Philadelphia Office.

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