It’s hard to tell if the biggest buzz from President Obama’s inauguration came from the agenda he outlined in his speech or the controversy over whether Beyoncé lip synced the Star Spangled Banner. Fortunately, both the leader of the free world and the superstar singer provided some excellent instruction on media strategy.
Mr. Obama knew he had a unique opportunity with his speech falling on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, and he wisely created a theme that tapped into Dr. King’s vision of unity, repeatedly calling for a renewed effort by Americans to work together to create a better nation. It was a connection that both made sense and was easy for people to remember. Taking advantage of that kind of opportunity is important in your efforts at getting noticed by the media. Tying your message to a timely event– a holiday, an anniversary, a news headline– will help you attract media attention. Always keep an eye out for anything to which you can “hitch” you message. You may find a surprising number of opportunities that come from your efforts.
Unlike the President, Beyoncé might wish she had handled her inauguration situation a little differently. Certainly there are many legitimate reasons for a singer to lip sync at a massive outdoor event in frigid temperatures…and hope people don’t notice. But that didn’t happen. Shortly after the event, the reports of lip syncing came from the Marine band, and the media pounced on the story. Then, instead of coming out and addressing the issue head on immediately, Beyoncé said nothing. By doing so, she allowed a media feeding frenzy filled with “did she or didn’t she” questions and a parade of other singers being asked to weigh in on whether lip syncing is acceptable or not. In short, by not acting, Beyoncé lost control of the message. She probably didn’t want to talk about lip syncing, but once the reports were out it was vital she step forward with the facts. Her inaction cost her. And that’s important for you to remember. Silence will not make a negative story go away. When you are faced with an uncomfortable media situation, you need to move quickly to address it and do all you can to put a positive spin on it.
Everyone hoping to make a good public impression– even Presidents and famous singers– need to consider the media and how to use it effectively. Make sure your strategy is geared to do just that.