When you turn on CNN or MSNBC, the coverage of Ohio Gov. John Kasich is sparse.
As he thanked voters after his victory in the Ohio primary last week—his only win so far in 2016—the Republican presidential candidate began taking his coat off, joking that it was all he had to give voters in return for their support.
His personal wealth aside, Kasich isn’t in the same tax bracket—nor celebrity stratum—as Donald Trump, so he must make better use of press opportunities.
Following in Trump’s footsteps and shunning Monday’s proposed GOP debate in Salt Lake City should make PR pros question where he’s getting his PR advice.
To compete for the 2016 Republican nomination, Kasich’s communications team should improve in these areas:
Dropping out of Utah’s debate cost Kasich millions of dollars’ worth of TV exposure. From a PR standpoint, he failed to take advantage of a platform that would have guaranteed press coverage.
Kasich and fellow nominee Ted Cruz—who was willing to debate—could have used the stage to confront Trump head on and take advantage of a PR freebie. When the front-runner has more than four times your delegates, it isn’t wise to pass up a nationally televised public speaking engagement.
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This wasn’t the first time Kasich squandered an opportunity that could have boosted his polling numbers. During his Ohio victory speech—with much of the nation tuned in—he stepped off the podium to deal with a heckler.
Didn’t he trust his security team to manage the situation? Did his campaign have a protocol in place for interruptions? The dead air represented votes he could have earned.
A digital footprint
Kasich speaks extemporaneously, which is a good thing. For candidates who can pull it off, it humanizes them. Without a script posted online, though, there’s less for reporters to refer to for quotes and little for undecided voters to consult.
Unless Kasich is building a case for plausible deniability, his PR staff should post his remarks online shortly after he makes them. To increase his digital presence and distribute his message through various channels, PR staffers should record and transcribe his addresses.
Kasich’s media relations team has yet to post his Ohio victory speech online. Ohio was Kasich’s best moment to date, and it was barely documented. Campaign staffers deluged him with an entire primary’s worth of confetti; instead, they should have laid the groundwork to win more votes.
Trump is capitalizing on every PR opportunity. To contend, Kasich needs better PR advice, or to listen more thoroughly to his PR staff.
Denise Mattson has worked in PR for 25 years and is a public voices fellow with The OpEd Project .