Politicos hate them. A process story for a campaign or administration revolves around inside baseball like staff changes, infighting, fundraising or strategic changes (click here for a recent gem). However, some process stories can be positive, like an upcoming campaign focus, initiative, or for Florida Governor Rick Scott – a newfound love of earned media.
Governor Scott’s team campaigned and governed with an open distain for journalism. They refused editorial board interviews, told reporters that Rick Scott doesn’t read Florida newspapers, and tried to block access to public information through steep fees and delays. I’m sure they assumed that his almost 50% of the vote without engaging the media gave them a mandate to govern similarly. That was a bad assumption.
Coupled with tea-party policies, this effort produced the least popular governor in the country.
Enter: Rick Scott, and donuts. From the Orlando Sentinel:
The string of bad poll numbers over the last two months has clearly impacted Scott’s administration. The governor has made a public-relations about-face in recent months, hiring a veteran Capitol insider in Steve MacNamara as chief of staff; giving dozens of radio, television and print interviews; and launching a $500,000 campaign of robo-calls, Google ads and Republican Party of Florida polling to deliver his message directly to voters.
This week, he held an open-house with coffee and donuts for Capitol reporters, and then launched a publicity effort out of the playbook of former Gov. Bob Graham by working in a Tampa donut shop for a couple of hours.
This is an institutional change for Rick Scott, a positive PR move, but more importantly, it’s a veiled admission to news editors and reporters across Florida that, yes, media coverage does matter. Rick Scott world has recognized that even he can’t afford to pay for the amount of media and robocalls that it would take to buoy his poll numbers – and they would know, because they’ve tried.
So cheer up journalists, Rick Scott loves you. Enjoy your donut!