Written by public relations specialist, Tom Ciesielka
In light of the media attention for the movie Unplanned, you might have noticed a trend that continues when issues of life and abortion are involved. Although this movie was able to get widespread attention, pro-life voices continue to be largely suppressed or negatively reviewed. Twitter even "accidentally" suspended the film's social media account for a brief time for no apparent reason other than to limit their impact. So how can pro-life advocates break through the largely abortion-supporting media?
The reality of major media’s anti-life bias
The traditional media has long been in the tank for abortion supporters. In the Associated Press’s Stylebook, “anti-abortion” is the name for those who support life for the unborn — and “pro-choice” is the term for those who support the legalized killing of children in the womb.
Prominent outlets such as the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Washington Post, and Politico regularly push anti-life falsehoods as news. CNN’s Jake Tapper was the rare reporter to be tough on Planned Parenthood for selling baby body parts, and it took Kirsten Powers’s USA TODAY column to force national reporters outside of Tapper to cover the Kermit Gosnell murder trial.
For many pro-life advocates, this bias means the hostile press should be avoided. This avoidance is often a good choice. There are many conservative and pro-life radio, television and online outlets which will spread the truth of life.
But sometimes we need to get the press to cover abortion in order to convince the abortion-supporting public. As David Daleiden did with his videos and Gosnell did with his murders, the truth of abortion can often break through even their pro-abortion biases.
The right message with the right strategy
It’s never easy getting coverage even with well-timed and horrifying stories such as Live Action’s investigative journalism. Even David Daleiden’s 2015 body parts video series left Planned Parenthood unprosecuted and with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars — and many outlets ran with Planned Parenthood’s talking point that Daleiden’s videos were “deceptively edited.”
But sometimes a story slips through. My client Created Equal flew banners above the Republican and Democratic conventions in 2016 urging them to support unborn life. The effort received liberal coverage at The Huffington Post and Jezebel, at local outlets like Cleveland.com and even the international publication The Guardian.
Daleiden’s investigations didn’t cost Planned Parenthood money, but the group was forced to disassociate with StemExpress. Planned Parenthood also faced investigations from Congress and several states. Tens of millions of Americans saw abortion industry employees joking about making money off of piles of body parts that were, at times, illegally procured. And a press conference at which Daleiden spoke in Houston, Texas was organized by pro-life groups and received extensive media coverage both nationally and internationally.
Just as with Gosnell’s “House of Horrors,” Daleiden’s work exposed a previously unseen grotesque side of the abortion industry. Created Equal’s work came as the two parties were formulating their official platforms on abortion – the Republicans crafted one that supported unborn life, while Democrats said taxpayers should fund all abortions at any time until the day of birth.
There are other ways to get pro-abortion press to cover pro-life values. The 2014 Hobby Lobby lawsuit against the Obama administration’s HHS Mandate and the 2016 Little Sisters case are prime examples – both led to favorable Supreme Court decision and were major setbacks to the most pro-abortion presidential administration in American history. They also secured liberty for pro-lifers in the private sector.
Not everyone has the legal, investigative, or financial capabilities of the groups mentioned above. This shouldn’t stop pro-life advocates from combining their principles with great strategy to inform communities of the truth of life. I remember helping another client, Pro-Life Action League, partner with Iowa Right to Life to throw the world’s biggest baby shower to protest a Planned Parenthood event. The local media showered it with attention.
Keep the faith
The fight against abortion is exhausting. Over 60 million children have been killed in the last 45 years. Mothers have been scarred and bereft of hope. Fathers have been left wondering “what could have been.” And most of the nation’s most popular press outlets continue to prioritize the “choice” of abortion over the child’s right to life.
We can’t give up this fight. National pro-life groups and local pro-life pregnancy resource centers, need to remember that the arc of history, science, and God are on our side. We will prevail. And while we will sometimes fail to make traditional media pay attention, we should never forget that you miss all of the long shots you never take. The unborn need us to convince the public, and we cannot do that without forcing the media to pay attention.
Tom Ciesielka is the President of TC Public Relations, a public relations firm in downtown Chicago. Tom has worked in public relations, marketing, and business development for more than 25 years. He uses his media relations expertise to help clients carefully manage their reputation, whether it’s crisis communications at the speed of Twitter or thought leadership in a New York Times Op-Ed.
He manages each client’s mission, vision, and brand in local and national media outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, National Public Radio, Fox News, and the Associated Press, and provides development strategies for professional circles on LinkedIn and other social media outlets. Throughout his career, he has represented his clients with integrity and honesty, and those values continue to be a cornerstone of his business today.
To contact Tom for a consultation or to book him as a speaker at your meeting or event, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 312-422-1333.
Posted on Wed, April 3, 2019
by Mauck Baker