In Public Relations

 By: Jacob Nadeau

Tustock-footage-us-capitol-building-washington-d-crn on any political news show and you have a good chance of seeing Veteran Democratic New York Senator Chuck Schumer. An infamous joke on Capitol Hill claims “the most dangerous place in Washington is between Chuck Schumer and a TV camera.” Even President Barack Obama once joked Schumer had brought his “loved ones” to an event – “the folks with the cameras and the notebooks in the back of the room.” Although a recent article in Business Insider shows there is a method to Schumer’s media madness. Schumer’s Sunday morning press conferences are a key part to his media strategy.  In past press conferences, Schumer has called for tougher regulations on everything from metal barbecue brushes to laser pointers. The New York Observer once teased Schumer’s for tackling these trifling causes with a slideshow titled, “A List of ‘Fun’ Things Sen. Charles Schumer Has Tried to Destroy.

It’s easy to be dismissive of Schumer’s unrelenting hunger for headlines and his odd list of pet projects. Regulations on metal barbecue brushes and laser pointers might not come to mind as the top political problems facing the nation – but they are important to ordinary New Yorkers. The method works too.  Schumer has been reelected twice, and according to the Daily News, 57 percent of Schumer’s Sunday morning events in 2013 were followed by federal action on the issue.

PR professionals and anyone who wants some media attention could learn a thing or two from the classic Schumer approach.  Here’s the “formula”:

Present the problem.

  1. Personalize the problem.
  2. Present the solution.
  3. Personalize the solution.

In other words,

  1. Something is wrong or needs fixing.
  2. Here’s why, when Mary Smith needs to do X or tries to do Y, she can’t do it because of the problem just told you.
  3. I believe that this problem can be fixed the following way.
  4. Now Mary’s able to do it.

Schumer not only tackles problems that his constituents want fixed but also those he knows he can fix.  Is it TARP or Medicaid reform? No. But, whether the suntan lotion that you’re putting on you kids is actually protecting them, that’s a real issue, and one everyone can get behind.

Laugh all you want.  The attention helps get things done.  There’s a lesson in it for all of us.

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