I absolutely adore the TV series The West Wing and have often found inspiration for my blog and my work by doing nothing more than sitting on the sofa, kicking back and watching an episode (or two).
My latest line of thought to be triggered by the show was all about “controlling the story”. The White House press secretary C.J. Cregg is most often featured handling difficult situations and potentially damaging leaks by ‘managing’ the story from the moment that it appears on her radar.
Fictional or not, the character’s unquestionable relationships with the White House press corps means that the journalists will often go to C.J. with a quote or information about The White House / the President before they take it to their editors. If there’s even the slightest chance that it will be damaging to the party, the press secretary will (quite incredibly) normally hear about it first.
While she can’t always stop them running the story, being able to prepare a response and warn the people involved ahead of time is absolutely invaluable.
PR professionals, however good, are rarely able to kill a story that’s got the potential to cause a significant stir and get the journalist a front-page byline. But, knowing what’s being written about your client, your company or yourself can help you stay one step ahead of the press and prepare for whenever the storm might hit.