Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Only creativity-impaired chumps have to pay journalists for favorable coverage.

The current administration looks at the unveiling of key policy initiatives as product launches, each replete with its own marketing strategy. Exercising perhaps unintentional candor, in the summer of 2002, President Bush's Chief of Staff Andrew Card famously pronounced: "[F]rom a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August." Washington was in its annual dog-days slough, and official attention was at a low ebb. The product in question was the Iraq war, which Card said would not begin its marketing cycle until September.

Spin is a central part of any well-conceived launch strategy. The trick, of course, is to transfer essential viewpoints from the spinner to the spinnee, thereby removing from the message any taint of a vested interest. Journalists, defined as ostensibly objective reporters and skeptical interpreters of reality, are the primary targets of spin. If you can get them to take up your cry, it gains credibility whether it deserves it or not. And credibility is an asset well worth cultivating and, in some instances, purchasing.

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