Larry Craig

PR expert: Craig ‘stayed on message'

Sen. Larry Craig's interviews with local and national TV on Tuesday showed that he was well prepared, but speaking more from his heart would have served him better, a Boise public relations expert said.

Joanne Taylor, public relations director for es/drake advertising agency in Boise, watched both interviews for the Idaho Statesman and answered questions about whether Craig was successfully persuasive.

Did Craig's appearance work?

On Mark Johnson's interview for KTVB: "Senator Craig was well-prepared and stayed on message. My guess is that he went through professional media training, during which the following messages were developed: There is a great deal of work left to be done for the state of Idaho; I want the chance to complete that work; to resign would be the easy way out; I have found that I can be effective; I made a big mistake (by pleading guilty); and I was in the middle of a firestorm."

On Matt Lauer's interview for NBC: "The questioning from Matt Lauer was tougher, and Craig did not seem to fare as well. Though he stuck to his story and remained on message, he used bridging techniques — bridging to another subject or key message — to avoid a direct answer in some instances. The fact that Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct rather than a sex act ... will help clear confusion regarding his guilty plea."

What did he do that was effective?

KTVB interview: "He acknowledged tough questions as being legitimate and answered them directly. He spoke with conviction and maintained eye contact. He told his side of the story in detail. Using excerpts of the interrogation tape was very effective.

"The officer questioning him was seemingly aggressive, and Craig was seemingly confused and/or scared. This will help people empathize with him." 

NBC interview: "Something additional during the Lauer interview was that the Craigs showed affection for each other. They touched and had more eye contact with one another."

What didn't work?

KTVB interview: "He seemed a bit over-rehearsed. I would have advised him to speak more from his heart than from the key messages that had been developed by his team."

NBC interview: "When Lauer asked Craig why he pleaded guilty and why he didn't stay and fight, Craig said that it ‘sounded like the easy way out.' But before, when talking to Johnson about why he was not resigning, he said that he never takes the easy way out. This will stand out to people who watched both interviews."

Sandra Forester: 377-6464