THE BIG PITCH: How can you get your client coverage when the election is on everyone's mind?

MATT AFFLIXIO, Senior Vice President, Access Communications, San Francisco

MATT AFFLIXIO, Senior Vice President, Access Communications, San Francisco

MATT AFFLIXIO, Senior Vice President, Access Communications, San Francisco

Short of filing your own lawsuit, there is not much you can do to penetrate the media when they are biting down on a story. However, there is a way of getting through to the media for your clients even when Monica, OJ and Puffy seem to be stealing all the air time. Join in the parade - before if passes you and your clients by. Take your news and create an interesting sidebar or trend piece. For example, Access created an immediate media campaign to keep top-of-mind during the election - pre and post. By relating the election to used cars and used cars salesmen, we designed a poll that asked which candidate would you rather buy a used car from. A Washington Post reporter, took it as fodder for an entire op-ed piece.

MARY JO DRAPER, Ink, Inc Public Relations

Our client, FileNET Corporation of Costa Mesa, CA, does Web-based content management and eProcessing. Simply put, FileNET helps large corporations manage the millions of pieces of paper and online documents they generate every year. I asked product manager Tod DeBie if he had been thinking how FileNET could have speeded up the handcounting of ballots and saved the nation weeks of agony. DeBie said it would have been quite simple for FileNET to set up an imaging system that could have looked at all the paper ballots in Palm Springs County, flagged the ones that needed to be looked at by a human, and displayed those questionable ballots on a computer screen. DeBie estimates a FileNET system could have finished that job up in about three hours. I only wish someone had done this story.

ANDY PLESSER, Plesser Associates, New York and San Francisco

We believe that technology is a core element of the historic election chaos in a number of ways, including the very heavy use of Web sites and e-mail for the latest news. Also the failure of voting machines and hand-punched ballots has heightened public awareness of the need to use information technology to make voting more efficient and fair. Since late last week, we have been inserting our technology media clients ZDNet and Red Herring magazine into these topics. A ZDNet report claims the presidential election created unprecedented global use of the Web for information. So, when the leading technology news and information source dubbed it the 'First Internet Election,' we secured broadcast interviews for ZDNet editors.'

David Abramson, PR Titan, Palo Alto, CA

Very targeted and strategically planned media relations are one antidote to being engulfed by an unforeseen firestorm that consumes everyone's interest. If you have prepared the media for the story and enjoy a reasonable rapport with the editor - a quick e-mail exchange can determine if your news is still germane and valuable. But it is extremely dangerous to risk dilution or misunderstanding of your key message. I would not advocate that tactic, unless it supports an existing theme, such as the similarity between Richard Hatch emerging from Survivor with his organizational cunning and our most recent election. You expect to hear about a year's free donation of Huggies to the latest multiple-birth family. Would you expect to hear that each baby had been given a Tag Heuer watch? I think not

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