Iowa: A PR anomaly


When my wife Anne and I visited Davenport, Iowa, in May, there were no presidential candidates in sight, but I did find a few interesting photo angles in the city.

Because I covered government and politics as a journalist and later worked in those fields in several communication positions, this coming Monday is a day that has long been circled on my calendar. It is the date of the Iowa Caucuses, the first official electoral event of the 2016 presidential campaign.

The caucuses also provide an interesting lesson for individuals in the communications field. Public relations professionals use research, strategy and tactics (and significant sums of money) to garner attention for clients. But some opportunities just happen automatically.

Iowa is a state of just 3.1 million people (about a one-sixth of New York state’s population), yet it will be the focus of intense media coverage from news organization across the nation on Monday – and no one needed to devise an elaborate and expensive promotional plan to attract this attention.

Events such as the Iowa Caucuses remind us that there are factors – good and bad – that even the most seasoned professionals cannot control. For example, I suspect the massive snowstorm that blanketed the Northeast last weekend wreaked havoc with many public relations, advertising and promotional campaigns that had been in the works for months or longer.

Communication professionals must work hard and be creative, but they also must be flexible and ready to shift gears when something unexpected and beyond their control comes their way.

Just some thoughts to ponder.

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