The mainstream media industry isn’t your friend. Even your local newspaper or television station, unless it’s a small market, probably isn’t all that supportive of gun rights. (One litmus test: Do they post their offices with “NO GUNS” signage?)
How do you handle an interview if you’ve been singled out or contacted to give your thoughts on a news story relating to guns, gun rights or similar issues? It might happen at a rally, or at your state capitol building or in some other public location. Dealing with the media and getting your message out without hurting your cause is much easier if you follow some basic tips.
Dress: Put your guns away, wear nice clothes and be well-groomed. Don’t wear your “Kill them all and let God sort ‘em out” t-shirt. Wear clothes that would be appropriate for church or better. If your version of church-going clothes includes camo or blaze orange, find and wear something nicer.
See the above photo of Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League. He’s well-groomed, well-dressed and well-armed with the talking points he wants to make when he meets with the media. He represents gun rights very effectively and professionally.
Talking Points: Identify two or three pithy talking points ahead of the interview and keep coming back to them, just like professional politicians do. Your talking points should be short and to the point. Did I mention you should keep coming back to them?
John Ross, the author of Unintended Consequences (find a copy and read it if you haven’t already), wrote a fantastic piece, Why Are You Losing Your Freedoms? The Semantics of Manipulation. In it are some great general talking points along with strategies for powerfully influencing others.
Hardware: The media often think “Gun guy? Get video/pictures of guns!” Don’t let them coax you into bringing out the guns if they don’t lend positive, pro-self-defense content to the story. Keep in mind the media love to prominently display photos or video of guns because it sensationalizes stories for ratings. Guns also intimidate many non-gun owners.
Don’t be this guy
You can marginalize yourself and your message very easily. Look at the photo above. By wearing camo or a t-shirt while holding a scary gun in front of a bastardized American flag, this man stood as a poster child for every liberal’s bigoted stereotype of an illiterate, redneck, gun-owning wack-o.
The New York Times couldn’t get the above photo into print and online quickly enough to accompany their story about militias. Just think how much better this man’s message would have been received by the general public if he’d dressed in khakis and a dress shirt, stood in front of an American flag, and left his flippant t-shirt, his rifle and bastardized flag in the closet. No matter what he may have intended, he didn’t help the cause. At all.