The Media Trainers®
It’s the National Retail Federation vs. Wal-Mart. Despite the federation’s 2500 membership roster, this has the feel of David vs. Goliath.
So, when you’re at an apparent disadvantage of that degree, what can you do? Get some help from the news media, of course.
These two seemingly aligned organizations are on opposing sides of healthcare reform. Wal-Mart, often at war with unions and their attempts to organize the massive retailer’s workforce, has “partnered” with one of its most aggressive and long-time antagonists, the Service Employees International Union in favor of employer-mandated healthcare. The federation says that would be a job killer and put many retailers out of business.
The federation’s Sr. VP for Government Affairs, Steve Pfister, recently carried that message to target audiences watching Fox News Channel’s Your World, and took advantage of some questions from substitute host Stuart Varney.
Varney: “Maybe Wal-Mart did because it knew it could do it and it would put unbearable pressure on its direct competitors.”
Pfister: “Well Stuart, you said that, I didn’t, but I think there might be some truth to the comment you just made.”
And Varney said it for him, giving Pfister an opportunity to simply second that emotion. Then Varney opened another door of opportunity for the Retail Federation executive.
Varney: “Do you think they are trying to buy and curry favor with the unions; a good PR move, for example.”
Here Varney is alluding to the effort by unions to get federal legislative relief to sidestep secret ballot votes in shops they try to organize.
Pfister: “…in terms of currying favor with the unions, in addition to healthcare reform, I would submit to you that the SEIU’s number one priority as well as the rest of organized labor is the card check issue, and I’m not going to suggest that there’s a quid pro quo because I think that would be fool hearty to try to cut a deal on providing healthcare coverage to ward off card check…”
Pfister’s not-so-subtle message to Wal-Mart: if you think you can stop union efforts on card check by aligning with them on healthcare, you’re fooling only yourself, at the expense of your fellow retailers. (Click on the video below to see this segment of the interview.)
While news people often ask questions that seek conflict and controversy, there are times when you can use those questions, as Pfister did, to your advantage without necessarily being the primary message sender.