Monday, February 8, 2010

Lachlan Markay: Sarah Palin's Media Strategy



Lachlan Markay of Newsbusters has written an excellent piece on the effectiveness of Governor Palin's media strategy. Markay correctly points out that despite near universal mainstream media hatred of Governor Palin and the commonsense solutions she espouses, her message has still found a large and growing audience:

Whatever your feelings about Sarah Palin or her politics, she literally represents the future of conservative messaging. She has shown the nation that a public figure who is absolutely reviled by the mainstream media can not only make a splash, but can dominate the public stage and attract the eyes and ears of the nation in ways almost no other figure can.

Markay believes Governor Palin's groundbreaking approach to getting her message out is something other conservatives should mimic. After all, given the near monopoly liberals have on what passes as news in the mainstream media, conservatives will always face an uphill battle to get their message out through these fading but still influential outlets:

For the conservative movement, Palin represents a potential solution to the right's unending problem of a news media that consistently sides with the political opposition. She is the first public figure to utilize (and, in some cases, dominate) multiple media, including traditional (television, books) and new (Facebook, Twitter) media platforms. The sum of her efforts should be the model for conservative politicians and public figures going forward.

[...]

She has managed to do all of this in an atmosphere of extreme hostility from the mainstream press. Perhaps no American political figure is more despised by the nation's talking heads. This is a teaching moment for all conservatives: she has not only been able to thrive despite the liberal media; she has set up her own channels of communication that rival most major media outlets in terms of the number of people it reaches and the influence it has on the national discourse.


Markay does allow that part of Governor Palin's success is Governor Palin herself, and that simply imitating her innovative media strategy is not intrinsically sufficient to guarantee success for others who follow her lead:

Though few can hope to replicate her appealing public persona, Palin's media dynamism demonstrates that conservatives can thrive in the public sphere despite a hostile press, if they utilize the tremendous power of new media, and adopt an eclectic approach to the news media.

[...]

True, it is ultimately Palin's personality and sensational appeal to the American people that has allowed her to adopt such the prolific media approach she has. But charismatic politicians are nothing new; indeed, celebrity is an essential element of any successful political candidacy--the election of Barack Obama demonstrates this fact.

Though not sufficient to assure success, an innovative media strategy new media strategy like that being pursued by Governor Palin has become an absolute necessity.

What separates Palin from the rest of the appealing political figures on the national stage is her expert leveraging of various media platforms. It has allowed her to maintain her very populist image--one that even conservatives (see Brooks, David) in the traditional press despise--despite the fact that the news media is as a monolith very opposed to her brand of politics.

Though there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to the news media, especially in the digital age, Palin's approach is instructive to the extent that it shows that conservatives don't need to cater to a journalistic establishment inherently hostile to its message. That should offer hope to all conservatives dispirited by an openly antagonistic press.

Read the rest of Markay's piece here. To have any chance at all of getting their message out, all serious candidates (particularly those who aren't sufficiently liberal to arouse tingly sensations in old media elites) must adapt to the new reality as Governor Palin has. Not only has she adapted to the new reality, she has had an enormous role in creating it.

This is, I believe, one of Governor Palin's most underestimated talents. She has an uncanny ability to observe the existing political landscape and see new paths to success where others, wedded to the stale tactics of the past, do not. She utilized this ability in her long-shot mayoral and gubernatorial campaigns in Alaska and is brilliantly employing it now. As in her earlier endeavors, I suspect the guardians of the status quo, whether in the media or political realm, will be slow to comprehend the genius of her strategy. They will continue to play their antiquated games while she leaves them behind and moves forward on an entirely different level.

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