Trylon Communications  - November 2003

Media Muscle

The recent recall election in California signified more than a lack of confidence in the state’s leadership. It was also a very strong demonstration of the impact of media on public opinion.

The Governor-elect acknowledged this during the campaign by personally thanking radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou on-air for their help in getting the recall petition signed and voters enraged.

There were far more petition signatures garnered in southern California area than in the north, at least partially due to on-air expositions of Governor Gray Davis’ perceived failings by John and Ken. The pair of drive-time radio personalities attended several petition-signing events and prompted listeners to get out and vote to have the Governor recalled.

While this is not a new phenomenon (Rush Limbaugh and others have been promoting conservative agendas on talk shows for years), this type of direct call to action is now taking the power of the media to a new level.

Another example was the recent cancellation of the CBS television miniseries “The Reagans” due to pressure brought primarily by a number of conservative talk show hosts.

Not that the conservatives have a lock on this type of perception persuasion. Conservatives for years have harped about the ability of the “liberal Hollywood cadre” to influence public opinion through movies and television shows. One can go back to Archie Bunker or forward to today’s West Wing to see examples of their concern.

The stakes for gaining positive media attention have never been higher – and the costs of negative attention have never been more devastating. Developing positive relationships with the media is more crucial today than ever.