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Controlling the message

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"The Bush administration has perfected the art of tightly controlling information. And it has paid no price for its disciplined, on-message, my-way-or-the-highway approach. The press might want to get used to it--this may be the template for future presidencies," Lori Robertson wrote in the March/April 2005 American Journalism Review.

"This White House has gone beyond mastering damage control to making pre-emptive strikes that distort unfavorable information or keep it hidden from public view."—Editorial, Roanoke Times, August 9, 2003.

The Technique

Controlling the message can be accomplished through various means, including setting the agenda: "telling the truth and answering questions before they were asked, prepared statements and designated subject matter experts as spokespersons, and getting key messages out early to gain the media's trust." [1]

The "public relations professional is in charge of controlling the message," according to Ingrid Cummings of Rubicon Communications. "It is critical to develop a set of key message points: simple declarations of fact relevant to the fact pattern. Once they have developed key message points, professionals practice them and keep delivering them succinctly and repeatedly in response to media inquiries." [2]

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