ST. PAUL, Minn. -- As the political Cuisinart speeds up from low speed to the ice-crushing mode, the intensity of political events increases as well. Members of Congress, Minnesota Legislators and Constitutional Officers are all seeking the nod from voters this fall. Any attention from the media at rallies, debates and issue position announcements is welcomed since it is free. The candidates are building up massive treasure chests for paid advertisements, but you can't beat the price of free exposure. This method of obtaining exposure has become known around the political campfires as "earned media" or in simple terms: Having your event covered by the local media without buying an ad.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann brought a national name to Minneapolis recently to get that free media coverage and host a fundraiser to raise dollars for her campaign. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin joined Bachmann at a rally (10,000 invitations were sent out for the event) before a higher level invitation only fundraiser. This edition of Hartbeat will give you a glimpse how the event you saw on television, read about in the newspapers and heard on radio evolved from an empty room to a rally.
You ain't seen nothing yet
Prior to the event, I had an opportunity to meet with other members of the media, the Convention Center staff and the Republican Party planners. We all got together the week before in the hall where the rally would happen. We discussed the locations of camera platforms, parking, length of cable runs to parking ENG trucks/news cars and other logistical issues.
This early meeting proved beneficial for me when I pulled into the parking lot of the Minneapolis Convention Center and was told that my news vehicle did not have the proper markings to be allowed to park with the ENG trucks. KARE 11 news cars are not covered with letters and numbers. My news steed has small placard that rests on the dashboard identifying the unit as being on assignment for KARE 11 and therefore representing a news organization. This was not the proper markings according to the guard at the gate. The Hartbeat memory banks pushed aside the musical trivia that often clogs the pipeline and I recalled the name of the Convention Center employee supervising parking. I asked if that individual could be contacted and, in the meantime, if I could be allowed to drop off my gear and then move my four-wheeled beast of burden, if needed.
Some words of advice to those planning events that they want the media to cover. When one is lugging hundreds of pounds of gear into a venue, parking close to a door is critical. Not just any door, but a door that is close to where the press set-up area is located. The folks planning this event knew the importance of this small yet important logistical strategy in building good media karma, but as with many good intentions, there were some misunderstandings as those plans traveled down the road.
Happily for my back, things did work out and when I emerged from the hall after dropping off my gear, the parking coordinator and the guard were standing by my news plow horse and I was told it was okay to park in the lot, I just had to move down a couple of spaces. Good parking karma was achieved.
Maybe I'll be there to shake your hand
I have included some images in this Hartbeat to show the hall before the crowds rushed in. If you ever wondered where those hand written signs come from, at this event they were waiting in the empty bleachers for people to hold them. I have been to events where participants bring their own signs; this was one time those signs were in place long before the doors opened.
Special consideration was given to photojournalists since large signs were not allowed in the space between the camera platforms and the stage. The camera platforms were also high enough so if signs were held up, we could shoot over them and still see the action on stage.
The crowd streamed in at noon. Like festival seating at a rock concert, some people ran to reserve their small square of concrete floor. Luckily nobody fell in the scramble for positions.
There was a very tight schedule of speakers and entertainment before the two headliners. The events flowed pretty much according to the times listed. When Michele Bachmann was introduced she and Sarah Palin both climbed the steps and stood on the stage together. This seemed somewhat awkward to me since it did not have the buildup of introducing the headliner and it required Governor Palin to stand idly on stage during Congresswoman Bachmann's speech.
There were Kodak (or maybe it is now digital) moments available. Earned media was achieved by the candidate with stories on radio and television newscasts, web material and well positioned newspaper stories. In my opinion, the organizers of the event did a good job of providing secure camera platforms, good camera sightlines, clean audio and adequate parking. However, once the media was on the platforms there was no way off them since the crowds, in the tradition of festival seating, packed in as closely as possible and there was no path out. This proved to be somewhat of a problem for emergency medical people who had to try and get through the tight crowd to aid a participant in trouble.
Another opportunity for taking care of media business at the Minneapolis Convention Center will be at the Republican State Convention the last week of April.
RELATED: Palin, Bachmann share stage at Minneapolis rally
The Hartbeat goes on...
What's cooking on the Hartbeat Grill?
Who taught John Lennon how to play the guitar? How important was Linda Eastman in the formation of Wings? Who was the driving musical force in many of the Beatles recordings? These questions and many more are answered in: Paul McCartney, A Life by Peter Ames Carlin. I really liked how Carlin brings music into whatever ups and down there are during Paul's life. Music was always how McCartney expressed the joy or hurt he was feeling at the time.
Once again, Hartbeat Los Angeles Bureau Chief/Soul Arrival Founder, Lloyd McCloud discovered a great YouTube gem of Marvin Gaye singing a live version of What's Going On/What's Happening Brother (please click here for the link). Besides Marvin's great vocals and keyboard work, you get a glimpse of key Motown bass player James Jamerson and Eddie "Bongo" Brown as well as historic film footage of black neighborhoods in the early 70's. The selection is from a 2006 DVD, Real Thing: In Performance: 1964-1981. If the quality of the DVD is as good as this clip, it is a must for soul music fans.
The Musical Notes
In a four-year run during the 70's, Bachman-Turner Overdrive earned 120 gold, silver and platinum disks and had hits in over 20 countries. Takin' Care of Business, Let it Ride, You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet, Roll on Down the Highway, Hey You, and many others were heard in arenas across the world by thousands of fans. Bachman and Turner are recording an album and they plan to start a world tour in June of this year.
Randy Bachman had a successful run with another group of Canadians, The Guess Who. He had left the group just before the 1970 album, Share the Land. If you are mentioning Randy Bachman, you have to cite the Guess Who and their great vocalist Burton Cummings. Bachman and Cummings still play gigs together and toured Canada last summer.
The Photo Notes
Images are stills from DVCAM video tape frozen through the magic of Avid.
(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)