Media Trainers Weigh In on Biden vs. Ryan


Politics aside, there were plenty of points of differentiation in presentation and messaging in the Oct. 11 debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan.

For communications coach Karen Friedman of Karen Friedman Enterprises, Biden did what his boss should have done: He challenged and refuted his opponent’s points and spoke with passion and conviction. "Unlike the president, he came out swinging as opposed to backing into his answers," says Friedman. 

Andy Gilman, CEO of CommCore Consulting, says Joe Biden went beyond addressing President Obama's shortcomings in his Oct. 3 debate with Mitt Romney. "Biden did what he's always done well—he strongly defended the president," says Gilman. "Sometimes with surrogates, they do a better job of articulating their principal's convictions than the actual principals—and sometimes, that happens in the corporate world as well." 

Gilman says, however, that neither Biden nor Ryan was as successful in getting his points across as Romney had been. "It was a bit more of punch/counter-punch debate than the presidential debate," says Gilman. "It was harder for either candidate to do as Romney did because of their opponent's strong opposition—both candidates articulated their views and showed that there was a strong contrast between their positions. Biden, however, scored on some of the points that Obama decided not to." 

In the split-screen view on CNN, Biden was often seen rolling his eyes and smiling or laughing, as if Ryan's responses were outrageous and beyond belief—which was exactly his intent. Gilman says he once had a client who engaged in a debate with a consumer advocate on a morning talk show. Gilman instructed his client to, whenever he heard things that weren't true, shake his head to get the moderator to come back to him. "You have to do something to indicate to the public that those items aren't true," says Gilman

Ryan was also right on message and had no trouble challenging and contradicting Biden, says Friedman. "But he did not offer quite as many examples to humanize information and bring it home to the voter," says Friedman. "A number of his answers were also a little too long, which can dilute the message."

Friedman and Gilman agree that both candidates fared well, remaining composed and hitting their policy substance points, but Friedman says Biden was more animated, passionate and slightly better prepared. Overall, Biden controlled the debate, according to Friedman and Gilman. 

Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg

Andy Gilman and Karen Friedman will share "Media Training Do’s and Don'ts" at PR News' November 30 Media Relations Conference in Washington, D.C.  






Comments Off

Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News'Crisis Management Boot Camp

Crisis_Boot_banners_175x135_ep

Join PR News on September 15, 2014, at the historic Yale Club in New York City for an intensive boot camp will put you through the paces of crisis communications to help you avoid, or at least mitigate, the damage that can come to a brand.

Use code “150off” at checkout.

Get $50 off PR News' Media Relations Guidebook

book-mediarelations-180x150

This 8-chapter resource contains practical implications for some of the most innovative developments in media relations, including the technologies, methodologies and mannerisms that determine the ecosystem in which PR pros practice this essential part of their craft.

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription

Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

Comments are closed.