By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — 1. In broadcast editing parlance, this second presidential debate was “easier tape to cut” than the first one, which didn’t produce any bumpersticker-quality sound bites. Lines like Obama’s “ONE-point plan” and Romney’s “binders full of women” went skidding all around Talk Radio and social media and cable. Day-after, smart hosts used sound bites aplenty to light-up the phones.
2. This debate re-energized the contest, for both sides. If Obama had disappointed again, listeners would be less-engaged generally. The USA is better-off if the electorate is “into it…”
3. …and your station is better-off for having carried the debate. Smart stations advance-promoted by offering, “IF YOU’LL BE IN THE CAR TONIGHT…”
4. Show prep matters. Apparently, Romney’s coaches misinformed him that Obama’s Rose Garden remarks did NOT characterize what-happened-in-Libya as terrorism. Romney dug-in and looked stoked…until he was corrected by the moderator…which fed the perception that he’s “reciting.”
5. Witness the power of LISTENING. Encounters like this can turn-on-a-dime when one candidate pounces on something the opponent says.
6. Carefully-applied, tough talk works. Romney never seemed to recover from Obama’s glare and firm explanation of the Libya situation. “These are MY folks” and “I’m the President” were powerfully-delivered lines.
7. For future reference (because local debates are long-since planned for this election cycle): Emulate the town hall format for future debates your station produces. Media consumption habits now favor INTERACTION, the essence of good Talk Radio; and this format gives your audience a feeling of ownership.
Another reason the town hall format is more useful: It’s harder for candidates to stick-to-the-script with safe talking points. An audience member could ask anything. Example: Romney sounding aristocratic and offensive saying “undocumented illegals;” and his “binders full of women” gaffe.
8. Moderators should moderate. Candy Crowley and Martha Raddatz succeeded where Jim Lehrer failed. Crowley asking Romney to sit down is getting played widely.
9. Debates tend to change few minds…in real-time (although Obama’s new energy might have changed a few). The event is more exciting to witness live; but its greater impact is subsequent use of sound bites, which, mathematically, reach a much wider audience.
10. Don’t break into jail. Romney was MINUTES-away-from escaping any mention of “47%” until HE brought it up.
See/hear/read more from consultant Holland Cooke at www.HollandCooke.com; and follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke.