A recent NY Post story reported on the approach of the late former NYC Mayor Ed Koch towards managing the media in the years before the advent of the 24/7 news cycle. As Trylon SMR President Lloyd Trufelman, a former press aide to Koch, previously told PR Newser, “Koch had an instinctive approach to dealing with reporters – quick response, no nonsense, short, genuine, from the gut quotes that were often colorful. It was just who he was and at least for the bulk of his mayoralty, the press loved it.”

As the Post notes, “Koch replaced the spin doctors, media strategists and expensive pollsters who now dominate politics with his own gut.” Ed Koch was almost like an autonomous all-news network with his ability to generate news stories at a torrid pace. The article reports that the former mayor would conduct at least three, usually unscripted, press conferences per day – every day. Compare that to the limited number of carefully scripted media briefings that are conducted nowadays by most elected officials.

Koch once told Cathie Black, Hearst Magazine chairperson, “Never walk away from a reporter.” This was the essence of his style – being open to the point of taking reporter questions anywhere and anytime. He accepted every opportunity to get in front of a camera or microphone to explain his take on virtually any local, national or global development. Everyone knew where Ed Koch stood on every issue. Whether one agreed or disagreed with his opinion, he gained the respect and understanding of a generation.

In the current always-on media environment, the news cycle spins in even more unpredictable - and often uncontrollable - ways. So the ability of a contemporary PR practitioner to be comfortable with taking a gut-instinct, improvisatory Koch-style strategic approach to media relations is even more vital today than when Ed Koch strode through the corridors of City Hall.