[eDebate] Why no organized communications response?

Jay Hawk ostertaglives
Fri Aug 15 09:55:56 CDT 2008

For an activity that produces so many communications and argument professionals, I am surprised that I see no evidence that the activity has put together a thoughtful response to this media coverage.  As of now, the media has had to roam around looking for people to talk about the activity, and many of the people they have found do not know anything about the actual debate activity.

Just because people have a communciations background does not mean that the activity should not consult with alums who actually deal with the media for a living.  If the acitvity wants to be taken seriously, it should approach this controversy with the seriousness and strategic effort that you would find in the private sector.

At a minimum, there should be the following:

1) Press statement from CEDA that can be distributd in resonse to media inquiries.  This should include a designated contact person for CEDA and references to alumni, coaches, and debaters who are prepared and willing to talk to the media.

2) There should be draft explanation/statements made available to member schools that can be used to communicate with school administrations (these can, of course, be edited to deal with specific situations).

3) There should be talking points made available to all that cover several pints, including:  1) Key facts about the debate activity 2) A basic factual timeline of what happened 3) The positives associated with intercollegiate debate.

4) Basic preparation for people doing interviews.  There is a way to increase the odds that you are quoted accurately and in a way that benefits yourself and the activity.  These "tricks of the trade" are not learned in COMS programs, unfortunately.

The activity could turn this coverage into something positive...but to achieve that it will require a thoughtful and coordinated strategy, not an ad hoc effort where everybody wings it on their own.  Debate has alums with great relationships with the media and experience doing just these things---you should take advantage of those assets.

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