In the aftermath of Clint Eastwood’s offbeat performance on the final night of the Republican National Convention, newspapers, broadcast outlets and social media focused their coverage of the night nearly as much on Eastwood’s antics as on Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech.
Rather than making the presidential candidate’s messages the heart of the coverage, much of the post-convention attention centered on Eastwood’s “conversation” with the empty chair sitting next to him.
However you feel about the effectiveness of Eastwood’s performance, one thing is clear: the man who was supposed to be the star of the show was upstaged by his opening act.
The message is clear for PR pros, too:
Think of the speakers at the convention as company spokespeople. The company in this case is the Republican Party and the campaign goal is getting one of their own (Romney) into the Oval Office. Each spokesperson was given the responsibility of speaking to a specific constituency. Each one was supposed to reflect positively on the candidate.
To keep this metaphor alive, let’s think of Romney as the CEO of this particular company. Whoever was responsible for the choice of speakers and for vetting what the speakers would say and do, took a major gamble in approving Eastwood’s speech/performance. While some loved Eastwood’s act and others hated it, Romney and his core messages became the second paragraph of the story.