|Gov. Palin in Kuwait.
Many GOP pros are worried about holding their star-spangled convention in Minnesota while Hurricane Gustav is bearing down on the Gulf Coast. They fear the storm will remind people of governmental ineptness following Katrina, will create horrible visuals of wealth and excess while others are fleeing from their homes, and will completely distract the nation from the hyped roll-out of McCain/Palin.
As long-time readers know, I’m a marketer by trade. And in the world of image and public relations, every crisis presents a huge opportunity. We all hope and pray that the storm dies off before hitting our shores. But what if the best-case scenario doesn’t materialize and we have another Katrina-level disaster unfold?
Here’s my professional advice.
Let Gustav be the anti-Katrina. With the guidance of Louisiana’s new governor Bobby Jindal, the local authorities are all over this one. Evacuation of New Orleans has already begun and all Federal agencies are ready to pounce. It has already been announced that Bush probably won’t attend the convention so that he can be on the scene immediately.
So where does the RNC convention fit in? Proceed with the various meetings, roll calls, etc., but in a workmanlike manner. This business has to be done. Proceed with speeches, but completely change the script. Sure, talk about politics as an aside, but run each night like a telethon to help the Gulf Coast. Ask entertainers to volunteer time for an unpolished song or two to gather viewers for the fund-raising effort.
If the storm is particularly bad, I would publicly invite Obama to give a brief speech encouraging his supporters to chip in. The message: we as a nation are all in this together.
By Monday, both McCain and Palin should be near the worst damage. While McCain fills a sandbag or two, he can spend most his time helping local politicians, comforting families and raising awareness of the situation.
But here is where America gets to know the real Sarah Palin. With her husband, she works in the field, shoveling muck, bailing water and cleaning up damaged homes. No makeup, flashy clothes or elaborate hairdo. Instead, she will be kind of messy, kind of sweaty, kind of tired. And she will become a hero to millions.
But what if a reporter tries a gotcha question on her? “Quick! Who’s the president of Kyrgystan?” Her response: “why don’t you pick up a shovel and make yourself useful.”
Can you imagine the contrast with the polished, image-enslaved, inside-the-beltway pols? The contrast with the media’s narrative of her being a lightweight beauty queen? It would be a PR revolution, but one based not in flash, but on unflinching authenticity. This woman hunts caribou and eats mooseburgers. A little manual labor would be a cinch – and she would still look good doing it.
Conventions have become tired, wasteful and foolish affairs. This is the opportunity to reinvent the entire concept, albeit on the fly. Schedules would have to change by the hour. McCain and Palin might have to do a last-minute jump on a plane to get to the conference for swift speeches. Or just do them by video, stuck in the muck with their fellow Americans.
If the RNC were to follow this advice, they would change conventions from here on out. And they would make Denver’s Obamapalooza look like the vain, waste of time it was.
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August 31st, 2008 by admindude