Information is much sought in times like the coronavirus pandemic to have them come to terms with the truth of the situation. Impactful journalism means being able to draw useful information from people like Donald Trump and Mike Pence as opposed to just allowing them to project themselves in a self-serving monologue. It means depriving them of their pet talking points and cutting to the chase. That is, being in control of the show, interview, or press conference and making the truth come out. Bill Stierle and Tom encourage journalists to develop these skills to change the nature of their engagements with the country’s top politicians and be able to give the people the certainty and trust that they need to feel in this situation.
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Building Certainty And Trust Through Impactful Journalism
Bill, I’m glad I’ve had a couple of days before we’re doing this episode because I was watching a program, Meet the Press that I tend to watch more often than not. I’ve watched it for a long time, back when Timothy Russert was the moderator and the host. It was probably when I first started watching it. He died tragically and then there had been a couple of other people. Now, the host is Chuck Todd. He interviewed Vice President Mike Pence. I got frustrated and downright mad watching this interview that I decided to send an email to Chuck Todd. I hope it gets to him. I don’t know if it will, but I Googled, “Email Chuck Todd NBC News.” I got a form that is used for feedback to any of their news anchors and news programs, but I filled it out.
You followed the thread. You went in to express yourself. You’re angry and your need for respect, expression or being heard wasn’t met, and you went after it. You said, “I got to write.” You have us all curious. You’re writing this thing and clearly, Chuck Todd did not meet your needs. All of a sudden, it pushed your buttons.
It did. It came from the previous episode and some of that discussion about journalists, in particular, the Press Corps at the White House, needing to improve their skills and change their approach at how they question. We were talking about questioning President Donald Trump rather than keep peppering him with questions that are direct questions to try to get at the truth because it doesn’t work. How they could get some skills and arrive at truth and maybe get President Donald Trump out of the way and get to Dr. Anthony Fauci to get some truth there. All this stuff was on my mind and here is Chuck Todd trying to interview the Vice President and talk with him about the reality of testing kits in the United States for COVID-19.
The exasperation was building up in your body because there wasn’t a pursuant of truth. There was a pursuant of facts, which the person wasn’t going to give you anyway. He’s trying to run into this wall and figuring out how many ways he can bang his head on the different parts of the wall and Mike Pence has just gone like, “I’m sorry, I’m a wall.”
The question was not going to be answered as it was asked for sure. That became obvious in the first minute of this interview. Chuck Todd was disappointingly powerless to keep this interview on any productive track. What he did was he gave the Vice President way too much leeway in going on and on saying whatever he wanted. To me, I was like, “Chuck Todd, this is your show. You’re the host and the moderator. You’re allowing the Vice President to give a nationally televised address. You’re not holding him accountable in any way to respect you that this is your show, that there is supposed to be any kind of ability for you to ask him questions.” He would not stop him. It got to the point where I’m yelling at the TV at Chuck Todd.
The feeling of exasperation, mad, angry and aggravation are all boiling up inside your body because the need for skill and awareness that Chuck Todd wasn’t showing. He didn’t have the skills to be able to get the Vice President to give Chuck Todd’s viewing audience the truth that Chuck Todd thought would be valuable. He’s trying to be nice and all of a sudden, Mike Pence has got a free monologue going on that is a common thread. This is what Mike Pence does. He does the, “That’s not true,” thing or “That’s not what he was doing.” It was challenging for you at that moment. What would have met your need for skill? What did you do when you’re writing this email?
I watched the whole show. The way they do things typically in Meet the Press is Chuck Todd will interview 1, 2 or sometimes 3 people in politics early in the show. He’ll have a panel of semi-regular guests like somebody from the Washington Post. He has people from both sides, not just your more left-leaning publications, but you’re more right-leaning publications. He tries to have a balance of people that have different perspectives. Some of them are more Liberal or Conservative. He did it in this interview as well. The interesting thing I realized by the end of the show is when he’s conducting the panel and he’s asking each of the panelists usually a different question that’s all built around the same theme of whatever is newsworthy that week. The panelists, whether they agree or disagree with him or they have differing opinions from each other, they all have mutual respect for each other.
They also have respect for the forum and the format that is this Meet the Press panel. They know that they’re going to speak on something for a relatively short period of time, a minute or two, and they hand it back to Chuck Todd. I realized by the end of this episode, Chuck Todd seemed to be conducting his interview with Mike Pence in a similar manner that he conducts the panel. The difference is the panelists respect the forum. They don’t try to hijack the whole thing. Chuck Todd doesn’t have to work that hard in order to be the moderator and to drive the direction of the discussion. He may have the necessary skills to do that on the panel, but what was then abundantly clear was, he is not a skilled journalist in terms of interviewing someone.
They are trying to put their monologue together. They’re trying to do their talking points and to get their message out, so their message sticks. They’re not interested in being in a respectful banter between you and them. They’re holding the position and going like, “I’m the Vice President, I’m going to say things the way I want to. You can ask me any question I want, but I am talking inside this box and this bubble so that people who are in agreement with me or with the President that I’m serving are going to stay or remain loyal. I’m not going to embarrass my President. I am not going to disclose the flaws of my President openly.”
He was never going to agree with Chuck Todd. He was never going to say anything negative. He was going to completely try to give President Donald Trump credit, acknowledgment and praise for handling this situation. To me, it was a lack of skills. He did not have the skills to give Mike Pence the amount of respect and acknowledgment he would need to be able to say yes to anything. He never said yes to anything. He immediately went off on the talking points of what we’re doing and what we’ve done, “Through President Donald Trump’s leadership, this is what we’ve done.” I was like, “Why do you keep saying that?” That has nothing to do with the question that was asked. Given an open forum, he’s going to be like a fish being let go from a net. He’s going to swim off the open water. That’s what he did. I’m getting a little PTSD.
That style of leadership, you’re going to feel exasperated, angry, and aggravated are going to be in your body. Over the times we have been together, you could see how truth can be purchased and hijacked by certain languaging patterns. Your sensitivity is high. You’re going like, “This is not any skill. I’m talking about skill and it’s not showing up over here.” The curtain has been more pulled back for you than others. You’re going like, “I can’t take this. I’ve got to scream at the TV and then write an email to say, ‘This did not go well. I did not appreciate what you were doing.’” That’s the exasperating thing. Welcome to my world, that’s the first point. The second thing is, where do we get and how do we move forward when we’re saturated in a narrative that is trying to get self-promotion, marketing, and sales style communication to be in our politics?
I know you’ve got to sell it, but you are selling us a product that is not in alignment with the truth. The way I also look at it is that the interviewer does not know that they’re a foil for this person to sell the audience behind them or that’s following them. Chuck Todd could say, “What do you think about monkeys eating glue?” He could ask a completely unrelated question and Mike Pence would still give him the same answer. “The President was good about glue making. He is the best glue maker ever.” It doesn’t matter the question that Chuck Todd’s asking because if it’s not framed in an empathetic way, there’s no way that Mike Pence is going to get off-script. We have talked about this before. Mike Pence’s job is three sentences, a sentence of reward, “This is a great leader.” A sentence of anticipation, “There’s something that’s coming that you all believe that’s great and wonderful.” A sentence of uncertainty, “We’re not sure when it’s going to show up.” That’s it. It is a three-formula response and Chuck Todd is going like, “What about the ventilators?” “The listeners have already heard the ventilators are coming. What’s the big deal?”
Chuck Todd was focusing on this testing thing because Donald Trump has said that testing isn’t the responsibility of the federal government. It’s the responsibility of the States. At the same time, he says, “We’ve done the best job in testing and getting tests out there.” He contradicts himself. Chuck Todd was focused on that whole side of things and trying to say, “Is it true that if the administration responded sooner and more people had been tested sooner, that fewer people would have died?” Mike Pence goes into not answering the question in monologue and all the talking points that are dancing all around it and not helpful.
Another important point that was illuminated to me in this experience was that a lot of us that watch these daily Coronavirus briefings of the President speaking, too often we think, “That’s the President. That’s the way he does things. That’s his style. He’s always trying to twist everything to give himself praise.” It isn’t just the President who does that. In this situation, Mike Pence did that as much as any experienced politician would do. Mike Pence might be a less combative guy, a more cordial guy, show some mutual respect more than the President where he won’t say, “You’re a terrible journalist,” shame, blame and criticize you as the questioner. It’s still pointed out to me that a certain skill is needed. It doesn’t matter whether you’re interviewing President Donald Trump or anybody else who’s on the team.
It’s a blind spot and it’s glaring. Even if you’re interviewing a CEO of a company that they made a major mistake about something, at least they’ve got some PR people around them to spin a message in a direction. This group does not have that level of strength. What happens is they’re picking a much more of a narrow sales narrative of, “Give him a reward, some anticipation, and some uncertainty. Walk away and leave a vacuum,” because there’s always a vacuum at the end of the interview. You go like, “I am empty. I don’t know what I need, but I am starving for information that I have to watch again.” That’s the Donald Trump Show. “I’ve got to keep watching.” Over the years, it’s all about the hook at the end of each segment in order to get them to come back for commercials. The commercial does the same thing, to be empty about the thing they’re selling about, so they have to go to the store and buy the thing. We are in a capitalist sales narrative that’s done with not the level of truth or the level of integrity.
Did Barrack Obama sell things? Yes, he sold all kinds of things but it had to do a little bit more towards the public interest versus the private interest. This small little subtle shift is a private interest. We’re doing it this way so we can optimize the best price points for ventilators and masks. We can optimize and keep the scarcity high enough so they can get the highest price point. That is not in the public good. That distinction is different when you have somebody running the government from a capitalist viewpoint and somebody running it from a public surface standpoint. We’re having governors bid on ventilators and masks, and competing with each other in a capitalist way? That is horrifying that they’ve got to fight through that. It’s like, “That’s not public service.”If the press wants to do a better job at drawing the truth from Donald Trump, they have to be truthful about his strategy. Click To Tweet
That’s a good point, Bill. You illuminated it. We don’t have a public servant in the Oval Office. We have a salesman, a marketer, a brander and a capitalist. That’s a stark contrast to a lot of other leaders in the world that build that. That is a great place to pivot a little bit to another article that we both read in The Atlantic about New Zealand’s Prime Minister, who is a woman. Her name is Jacinda Ardern, a fairly young Prime Minister of this country in the Southern Hemisphere. The article says, “New Zealand’s Prime Minister May Be The Most Effective Leader On The Planet.” It’s an interesting catchy headline. When I read it, I’m like, “I have to send this article to Bill,” because they talk about how she approaches, what she does, how she speaks to her country, and how she leads her country with empathy. She leads with empathy. She doesn’t preach to them. She’s standing with them. It breeds a high level of trust and confidence among her citizens because of empathy. It is the polar opposite of what we’re experiencing in the United States with our leader.
The good part about that article too is that when the manifestation of empathy shows up, it’s the same thing with Chuck Todd using empathy on Mike Pence with his answers. He responds to Mike Pence with empathy for his answer. “You would like us to get excited about the President in all the good things he’s doing. Is that correct?” Mike Pence had to say yes to that. “It sounds like you like our audience to know that there has been a great effort being put forth. You and the administration are doing everything you can to get ventilators to the places that needed. Is that correct? You’re looking to be positive about things.” This is Chuck Todd using empathy. The New Zealand leader is using empathy to build engagement. Chuck Todd could use empathy to build engagement.
The New Zealand Prime Minister is saying, “I’ve taken my kids to the park in the past. They aren’t liking it that they’re at home with me. They want to go to the park.” What we’re doing is we’re trying to get the need for a safety net. Wouldn’t it be a good idea for a little while until we could get ahead of this to make sure that safety takes place? We’re going to do everything we can to protect you out there. Immediately, she’s saying, “I’ve got your back. I am going for five specific needs. I’m going for protection and safety. I am demonstrating care. I am going to be cooperative. I’m interested in the best process to get there for those things. I am empathizing with what you’re going through because these are the sacrifices that I am making. These are the sacrifices that you’re making. I am asking you to do some of the things that I’m doing. It’s going to be tough and it’s not going to be perfect.”
For all of them, that’s good truth, but she’s getting the truth to move in a straight line. It’s not this mountain road that we don’t know the next time we might drive off the cliff because there are no guardrails around the President or the Vice President. There’s nothing to hone in the tweet or the next comment or the next misstep because they’re trying to run something thin in the middle of a crisis. It’s exasperating because my need for truth isn’t met. There’s frustration because my need for skill isn’t met. I am disheartened about awareness. We are talking about something that most of the world doesn’t know. They’ve got little inklings of what the application of empathy is in language but not too much. It’s a hard fight.
The frustration is there is this propaganda machine out there called Fox News that is skilled at messaging and the whole marketing thing. People’s lives are being lost.
It’s some scary honesty. People are lost over it if you’re rebelling and activating. We have done an episode on the shame cycle, but this is what the shame cycle is, “I am going to be in control about something and send a message of control. I can’t wait to open up the country for business.” You start that “open” and people say, “open.” The answer is, “Why is my state not opening?” It is because you have a Democratic governor. We’re going to rebel then against the Democratic governor. Rebellion is a shame movement. The release part of it is when the embarrassing consequence comes up. “I got my neighbor sick. So and so died and didn’t know it yet.” Let’s take another pandemic disease, AIDS. When AIDS was running through America, Ronald Reagan did the same thing. He downplayed. It was not a biggie thing. What is this disease? I know it’s a different time and person but it’s the same energy of, “We’re not funding it because our voters don’t like gay people,” to do a micro summation of it.
It is a fair assessment.
This is the scourge and that’s a disease that affects those people, but it was a sexually transmitted disease. As soon as we got other faces on the disease, and as soon as we found out it wasn’t the blood supply, all of a sudden, there were other people. The pivot took place. I posted something on my Facebook page about this. Somebody put a video of the semi-famous people that have died from the disease. They put a video together. I watched the video and I go, “These are famous people.” My brain went to, “Not famous enough like Rock Hudson.” As soon as Rock Hudson got this thing, Ronald Reagan pivoted and goes, “My friend is sick and is going to die,” because he was his friend, until it hits home and gets close.
Unless someone in President Donald Trump’s inner circle or somebody he respects gets it and dies, if Rush Limbaugh died from it, Donald Trump would say, “This is real and serious.”
He can’t make it up because it’s his guy. It goes back to the flat earth mindset that we talked about a few episodes ago.
Could you imagine if Sean Hannity got it? Let’s take an example from another news organization, Chris Cuomo got it. He’s been still doing his show from home as much as he can while he’s ill with Coronavirus, even interviewing his brother, the Governor of New York. Can you imagine if Sean Hannity had it and then he was interviewing Donald Trump from home? This would be entirely different? I don’t know if you would call it empathy. It’s not empathy because I don’t think the President has that bone in his body, though he would have a different perspective, don’t you think?
The perspective becomes a reality because it’s not only a bubble wrap that’s around the President. Nobody tells him anything bad but also the distancing bubble around the experience. It’s challenging to put a positive spin because we’re up to 45,000 Americans that have died. You can’t positive spin that. You got to go through it.
They tried to proportionalize it. Have you seen all these posts about, “Do you know many people die from the flu every year? Do you know that many people die from heart attacks every year?” Have you seen some of that proportionally trying to minimize, “Why are we ruining our economy over this one?”
The comparisons narrative over this is like, “People die every day.” The answer is, “Not if they don’t have to.”
There’s that and it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Sweden, for instance, who’s not doing any lockdown. They’re in this experiment that as I understand it, starting to turn for the worse. It’s not over yet, but the point is if we don’t do this, then we are going to overwhelm our hospital system. We’re already are to an extent, but if we didn’t do this, anybody who has any other kind of ailment, heart attack, a stroke, who needs immediate gallbladder surgery or appendicitis surgery. They’re going to call 911 to get help and no one’s going to come because the system is overwhelmed. There are all other issues here. It isn’t just the number of deaths. Some of those comparisons are interesting to look at for sure and to understand perspective but I also think it’s far too early. You’re talking about averages of certain kinds of deaths people are putting out there. There are annual numbers of deaths. We haven’t even been through a whole year with Coronavirus, yet. We’ve been through a few months in the United States.
The first case is not the same as the first infection. The first case is when somebody’s identified and that’s the anchor. There were many people infected at that same time swirling throughout the nation, specifically in New York City. It hit people hard. They had to stay at home because they were sick. Some went to the hospital and went through that experience. It’s exasperating because we still need trust and certainty. We’re not going to fully get trust and certainty together unless two parts of the equation are done that there is a proactive ability to test and a proactive contact tracing teams that descend upon that person that’s been tested. If the person gets tested and they’re positive, “Who have you talked to in the last fourteen days? In the last month?” This is the contact tracing. You ask the person that’s infected. We got to find out where the vector is going.The Trump show is all about leaving a vacuum at the end of the interview and keeping the audience hooked for more. Click To Tweet
“Where have you been? Have you gone to the grocery store? Did you wear a mask when you did?”
“What grocery store did you go to?” You could do it discreetly or do it overtly if you want to, but then there’s a team of people that comes in and cleans up that grocery store. It could open or not open the next day, depending on if it met the need for cleanliness. How many people too intensively clean a grocery store in masks and guard, so they don’t get sick? They come in and take care of this entire environment. Does the public need to see it? Partly, they do. They need to have certainty and trust that you’re protecting them. That psychological damage is done. That’s the hardest part about this is that who wants to go to a restaurant? I’m not dooming gloominess. How are you going to do that?
That’s a good point, Bill. There are many things in my mind that we could go on and talk about, but you reminded me and eliminated a good one. At the same time, all this is going on because the majority of Americans are staying home. Our borders are shut down. The airlines are not flying, maybe 10% of what they were before. Stick with me here because there’s a point to this but the oil market has dropped like a rock. It’s gone subterranean. I was watching the oil futures for May and we’re at negative $36 a barrel. I had to get a little education from my father-in-law, who understands the oil industry well. “Oil futures can go negative? Tell me about that.” I learned a little bit about that.
They’re paying people to take this barrel away from them because they have no place to store it.
Storage is a big piece of it. The other thing I didn’t realize because my father-in-law is an engineer and technical guy in the oil industry. He’s retired now but he’s like, “Their demand for oil is low. Even if OPEC and all the different oil powers that be, that have oil wells in the ground that are pumping every day say, ‘We need to cut production because no one’s going to buy the oil and the price they’re going to pay is low.’” Here’s the thing and I didn’t know this. You can’t shut off an oil well like you can turn off a light switch. The pressure underground, pushing that oil up is something that has to be slowly weaned down over a period of months, not hours or days. This is a global problem. My point was not to get too much into the tech of that, but enough to understand that if everybody goes back to work safely where businesses start to open up. A lot of businesses will not open up and are gone, but others will reopen and rehire. Some people are going to go back to work.
Let’s say that happens, you’re still not going to have the same amount of people driving that you did the day before the stay at home orders happened. Even more to the point, you’re not going to have, all of a sudden, the volume of people starting to fly again that flew before. Even when the airline starts to come back, it is going to be 40% or 50% of what it was before. There is going to be an adjustment and a “new normal” of what the travel that people need to go will be and how much oil is needed. You’re not going to have things go back exactly the way they were. This economy is going to take time to return to whatever the new state of normal is at that time.
I do training on conflict reduction. A lot of times, I’ll come into a situation where it might be post-Katrina, where I worked with a school district because they’re their students were traumatized by Katrina a year and half before. They’re in school and they’re having trouble. How could you focus on a desk when you have the thought there might be a big storm, somebody might die or going to move away? How do you rationally reset that up as a kid? The answer is you can’t. It’s hard to. You’ve got to train teachers to nurture them to re-engage and find their passion and their identity. Meanwhile, there was this traumatic thing. Hopefully, they’ll get it in their adult life but you got to get them through this. It is the same thing for Flint, Michigan with the water crisis.
I fly in there and trained some people about how to communicate compassionately in order to manage emotions. Those environments and cities went through a traumatic experience to trust that people around them are going to help them through a hurricane. People around them are going to help them through a water crisis. How do you restore trust? We have a nationwide Katrina and Flint water crisis that psychologically, people are not helping with the communication narrative. There’s not an empathetic trust that, “We got this handled and we can get back to work with certainty and trust.” It’s getting back to work and roll the dice on whether or not you’re going to get sick. Go out and shop and roll the dice on whether or not you might get an illness. If you do, you got sick for the good of the economy. People will not buy that narrative.
What’s shocking is you have all these examples of all these people protesting at the Pennsylvania State House in Michigan for this exact reason. They’re saying that, “I don’t believe the virus is real.” People were saying that it was a hoax like, “Why should I have to stop working to save your life? If you’re sick, you stay home.” It is dispassionate and very selfish-me statements and not we statements. What’s also mind-boggling is you have the leader of our country, the President of the United States, who issued stay at home orders for recommendations. The guidance from the administration and the federal government.
He issued and stood before they might finally at some point. They said, “We’re going to have to recommended stay at home orders.” Some states have pushed it beyond that. He’s issuing the guidance from the federal level. He’s then tweeting, “Liberate Michigan, Virginia, and Minnesota” that all have Democratic governors. He’s trying to stir the pot telling people, “Don’t listen to me as the leader of the country saying, ‘We’re all going to stay at home.’ You guys are being oppressed. You need to be liberated. Go out, protest and get your life back.” I’m paraphrasing but this is the message that he’s sending. How do you put that square peg in that round hole?
If I wanted to be compassionate to President Donald Trump, he feels delighted and energized about meeting the need for connection with a person through the things he says and does. He will orchestrate being late to create anticipation and uncertainty. He’s done it throughout his career, being late and not on time like, “Where is he? Is he going to make it? He’s busy, but he made time for us. He showed up.” At his casino, it was orchestrated that he wasn’t going to be there on time, so they could tell the audience, but he’s sitting up in his office. “He’s coming in from an important business meeting in Florida and he’s flying in. We’re not sure if he’s going to make a show.” “We’re not sure if he’s going to make it?” Of course, he makes it. That’s the uncertainty. That’s a part of the dopamine sales cycle that is a part of these tweets.
If I was giving guidance and coaching to the press, start calling him on it. “It looks like the President is looking to meet his need for connection and is supporting people’s need for choice, regrettably, at the expense of their health. It might be at the expense of protection.” He’s looking to engage people through this strategy. He even said it, “Fire Dr. Anthony Fauci.” He retweeted that thing. “Why did you do that?” He says, “To stir the pot.” This is not a time to stir the pot. He would stare right back at me and says, “It’s always time to stir the pot.” That’s his mindset. That’s what a good marketing person does is continuously stir the pot, so it becomes, “Watch here.” That’s the job of a marketing person, capture the eyeball. This is not a mystery. Look at all the ads online that are circling the content in the middle of the content you’re trying to read. Do you have to skip over an ad in the middle of an article? Of course, you do because that is, “Look here. Click here. Is my ad attractive enough to you? You don’t need it now. How about in five minutes? You might need it in five minutes. It’s at the end of the article. You might have missed it up here.”
Why they clicked this one instead of this one? There’s analytics about which one of the four of the same ads is on the page. Which one gets click the most? “Let’s put it in that position next time.” That’s what marketing is. He measures, “Did you see my ratings?” That is how you know that he’s a marketing person that is measuring his indicator. If the press wants truth and wants to do a better job because we started this with the Chuck Todd thing. If they want truth, be truthful about his strategy. Spend time there. Be truthful about Mike Pence’s strategy. “You’re here on this show to promote the President. You’re going to give some messages of loyalty. Is that correct?” You’ve taken out his next three sentences because if he says these next three sentences, you’ve pulled the curtain back.
He’d be demonstrating. “I’m guessing that you’re going to be here to promote. You’re here to encourage people to believe the message that you’re saying that there’s a lot of good work being done here. Is that correct? You would like people not to look at the work that wasn’t done. You would like us to work and look at things going forward.” They’re stuck. If you’re telling them what their talking points are and asking them to be in agreement with their talking points, they don’t have anything to talk about. You’re compassionate. You’re not being a jerk about it. You’re going to like, “I see what you’re doing. That’s the way to do it, but we’re not in the middle of selling a Donald Trump airline, Donald Trump steaks, Donald Trump vodka, and Donald Trump towers. We’re not in the middle of selling something here. We’re reporting on deaths, public service, and protection. That’s what we’re reporting on.”
If he says, “No, we are selling,” then he’s transparent and exposed as selling something if he counters that narrative.
It’s discerning because you’re in agreement with the person. They come in in an adversarial way. “Don’t answer that person’s question. If they get powerful questions, call the question fake.” You cannot be called fake news if you’re empathetic to your guest because you’re not fake. You’re in agreement with their motive. We got to send this episode to Chuck Todd because that’s what he’s missing. It’s not that he’s the only one missing it. The head of the Press Corps was saying the same thing like, “That was a good question you ask.” I was like, “No, it wasn’t. It had the ability for them to call you fake, but it was a real question and a real answer.” That’s not important. In sales, it doesn’t matter if a person likes or needs your thing. It matters if they buy your thing. They don’t need truth. They need to purchase this.For a good marketing person, there is no inappropriate time to stir the pot. Click To Tweet
They, being the journalists or the media, don’t understand that what they’ve been trained to do is counterproductive. Maybe it will prove to be in general down the road that if you want to create an enemy and an adversarial situation, keep doing what you’re doing because you’re doing a good job at that.
They are playing their role. They have been cast as the villain in this and the ones that are not giving the truth to people. People don’t like the truth. That’s a whole other episode of, “Why people don’t want to hear the truth straight out?” When they hear the truth, they’re habit brains going like, “I don’t want to believe that because I’d have to change.” Truth has got to be fed to them in small teaspoons in order for them to say, “This soup isn’t that bad. It’s not too hot. I guess I could adapt to this new viewpoint.” That’s called creating social change through marketing a powerful idea. Let’s pick one of these things. We’ve done this one before, which is a designated driver.
It’s not a thing until you make it a thing. When you make it a thing, you’ve got to promote the thing. You’ve got to promote the belief and the mindset that someone’s drinking and the numbers went down when they did it. Is that good for society? Yes. Did they trick society into doing it psychologically? Yes. How did they do that? Put small messages, small teaspoons of a belief construct inside our consciousness. You can’t say, “Open back up again.” It’s even being sold terribly on that side because people are animals. The elephant has sat down. You’ve got to take a small stick to get them to stand back up again. Not a governor that says, “I’m opening my state.” “What are you? The Divided States of America?” That’s what he is. If a governor says that, he’s saying to the rest of the states, “Screw you, guys.”
If I were the governor on the states around him, I’d say, “Send the police to the border and stop everyone that’s coming into this state. We’re going to test them right there. Do you want to be the Divided States of America? We’re not letting your people or anybody travel through your state.” Any governor could pull that sucker off and all of a sudden, it’s like, “We’re not letting people come across this line unless there are these things because we’re protecting our people and you are not protecting your people. We’re not letting your people come through us.” It’s a different line, wall and border, but immediately, those governors are out on the plank. They are walking the plank on the pirate ship.
They’ve been flirting with that plank any way and hanging themselves out there. Would you like to be the Governor of South Dakota who said, “We are not doing a stay at home order? We don’t have the problems you have in New York,” but then the Smithfield Farms, the pork processing plant, has 500 cases. It is the hottest of hot spots because that company threatened their people and say, “If you don’t come to work and do your job, you won’t have a job when you come back.” They forced them to work in conditions that were not safe and they made a huge accelerator of COVID-19. The governor there is having to face the reality of how bad this is.
Tom, the best part about this discussion because it’s such a rich and a full discussion about how we can use language in order to get people to be enlisted through common value, protection and safety narrative. The truth of how this thing spreads and how it works, we need the truth of an important business concept called best practices. What nations did this best? That’s the question everyone should ask in a state. We’ve taken some great ideas from the things that took place in South Korea. We adjusted them and made some improvements to make it better for us, but you’re taking that idea and move it over here.
You improved upon it. Isn’t that the American way?
Part of our psyche and identity wants to be the ones that are the innovator. The other part is okay to be the synthesizer or integrator of best practices. Regrettably, both sides are struggling in their messaging. They’re still trying to do push marketing and they’re not trying to do an empathetic engagement. Let’s talk next time about the difference between push marketing and empathetic engagement as a way to how truth is forced in a direction. That’s called the state media mindset, whether it’s Rush Show or Fox News to put an interesting comparison next to each other. What is empathetic engagement? What it takes to stand there at a podium and say, “The world’s going to change a little bit. You might go into a restaurant and there’s a person at the door who’s going to take your temperature. When you come in, the waiter or waitress is going to have a mask on. There’s going to be a disposable menu. They’re going to clean these environments, so it’s safe for you to go there.” That’s the reality and you got to sell that narrative. That’s what it’s going to look like if you’d like to go to a restaurant.
Let’s do that. I look forward to that.
It’s a great conversation, Tom. I am looking forward to the next one.
Thanks, Bill. I enjoyed it and have a great day.
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