Name: David Lerner, president, Riptide Communications (New York) Placement: The New York Times, August 31 Pitch timeline: Three weeks
What are your client's media goals?
David Lerner: Our client is The New Press, which has a forthcoming book about the 2004 presidential election called What Happened in Ohio? It wanted to raise awareness for the book and bring attention to some of the voting-process issues raised by the authors.
With the 2004 election nearly two years old, how did you get New York Times reporter Ian Urbina interested in looking into that issue again?
Lerner: Ian is a national correspondent, and we offered him an exclusive pegged to the fact that under federal law, local election boards could destroy ballots after 22 months, which in this case meant September 3, 2006.
Was this something the Times had covered a lot in the past?
Lerner: They hadn't covered the vote for a while, but Ian got interested once we also noted that civil rights lawyers were preparing a suit where the ballots would likely be needed as evidence. The other thing helping us was we weren't pushing any conspiracy theories suggesting somehow the 2004 election had been stolen.
Did you have to do much media training for the authors? What other materials did you provide?
Lerner: We worked with one of the authors and gave Ian galleys of the book. I also suggested another client of ours, the Center for Constitutional Rights, would be helpful in explaining the lawsuit, and Bill Goodman, the center's legal director, also ended up getting quoted in the story.
What was the impact of the hit?
Lerner: The story ran above the fold of the National page of The New York Times on August 31. The lead was that under threat of suit, Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell intended to issue a directive ordering voting officials to delay the ballot destruction. The media strategy clearly helped to ensure preservation of the ballots and also helped generate pre-release buzz for the book.
Name: David Lerner, president, Riptide Communications (New York)
Placement: The New York Times, August 31
Pitch timeline: Three weeks