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Monday, September 6, 2010

“There was like, millions there—at least!”

Wherein we offer more strategical and tactical advice to the Tea Party.* HELP ME HELP THEM. So if you remember Glen Beck’s Restore Honor rally, one problem with it was the discrepancy over the number of people who were there. Republican candidate for US Representative Michele Bachmann claimed one million. Some, tens of thousands. Still others? Upwards of 600,000. An aerial study by conducted that day of the event now sheds light on the real numbers:

90,000, give or take.

Before talking specifically about where Team Tea Party went wrong handling the numbers, understand that it’s indicative of their larger problem: a lack of a unified message and/or leadership. Yes, it’s a movement strangely absent during the Bush administration tapping into voter angst in certain circles—but it’s also all over the map on key issues. There’s no clear leader stepping forward to take control of all the factions and spinoffs either. Given this, it’s easy to then end up with so-called regional leaders saying heinous things out of the national spotlight.**

I get that promoters need to hype numbers ahead of time to build interest, but is saying ‘there was a million people’ when clearly there wasn’t the kind of math they plan on addressing the lack of fiscal responsibility in Washington with? I hope not.

Instead, I would’ve suggested a different approach.

First off, nobody speaks, not until they have some semblance of the numbers. Then, combine the total number of views for the day across all media platforms and turn it into a positive—not a question mark. As I watched Beck’s I Have A Stream event on Facebook, the highwater mark for views was around 130,000, give or take. I thought, okay, not bad.

For its part, TV coverage suggested low, but decent viewership. If you then take the highwater marks for each of the respective networks covering the it, Fox News, CNN and MSNBC—Nielsen doesn’t report C-SPAN numbers—you could put the numbers conservatively around 2.3 million. Add in the Facebook stream and 90,000 attendees actually there, and you wouldn’t be wrong saying 2.5 million people watched this event. (If you want to add C-SPAN in, you could conservatively use MSNBC’s mark and add another 300K to the total figure.)

The message now becomes about saying almost three million people experienced this event, which is the opposite of questioning whether 100,000 showed up to it or not, let alone debating the accuracy of candidates trying to make the movement fit their own agenda. Makes a nice soundbite in the days and weeks that follow too!

I’m sure however, that they’ll figure this out by the time the next TP flashmob rolls around, say, the Beck and Palin shindig on 9/11?

(Update: A concerned citizen comments that the image from the linked article depicts a TP event earlier in the year and not that day, so using it here could be misleading. Better to use these images. What’s misleading though is how crowd density can appear greater the higher the elevation or degree of angle, something the use of the grid image points out. Draw your own conclusions loyal readers.)

*Hey, I like a marketing challenge, what can I say?
**Because nobody ever sees what you write on Facebook, right?


Didmi Research said...

Yeah, it's terrible when people try to mislead or misrepresent. Like showing a photo of an April 15 Tea Party event (that had 4,400 people attend) when talking about the Restoring Honor event (that had 90,000 people attend).
I guess when someone lifts an image off of a major news site like CNN (search airphotoslive), they should first read the story to make sure they use the image in proper context. I guess it was too difficult to just go to the homepage of airphotoslive to get the actual Restoring Honor arial photo of the 90,000. But, that would have been too much research for MTLB gang.

mtlb said...

Thanks anonymous hero caption guy, duly noted, but there’s no sinister effort here to mislead. Nice try making something out of nothing though. Still doesn’t change how TP’ers tried to spin 90K into a million.

Didmi Research said...

I've read you for a long time - it may not have been a "sinister" effort, but its real easy for me to convince myself that it was a deliberate mislead. That's all I'm sayin'.

However, I do agree with your take on how it could have been handled. Too bad most political PR firms spend so much time either kissing someone's butt or trying to pull their heads out of their own butt to really be effective.

Do you think Obama's people are looking for a new client. Now those guys know how to market a candidate! I mean, heck, I almost voted for the guy!

mtlb said...

All long-time anonymous readers welcome then. ;-p

As for Obama, his team definitely gave people the blueprint for hitting people online, through email and on YouTube. If the GOP/TP can focus their message more using his tactics, November will be a Democratic bloodbath, as could 2012.

Didmi Research said...

True dat.