June 22, 2011

Roll Call Profiles Democrat Media Trainer Pendleton

Seth Pendleton Today Roll Call profiled, Seth Pendleton, who provides media training to a range of Democratic candidates and office holders and is the former Director of Training at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

From the piece:

…for all the money and spin involved in special elections, the outcome rests heavily on the quality of the candidates.  That’s why Democrats have called in Seth Pendleton for the party’s four recent special elections in New York and Pennsylvania, including last month’s upset in New York’s 26th district.

Helping candidates stay on message in debates, in interviews and on the stump is the crux of what he does, but Pendleton said the key to being a successful candidate is simply being authentic.

“Sometimes, yes, my job is to keep candidates from saying something that will blow up, that will make unintended headlines,” Pendleton said over lunch near his office in Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown. “After that triage — of making sure they know what they should and shouldn’t say — it’s figuring out the things that they say are true to them.”

Media training is something Democrats and Republicans alike say is invaluable for candidates. Firms such as HDMK and Pendleton’s 4C Partners, which was formed two years ago by four former DCCC staffers, offer media training as part of their range of services to campaigns and clients. Both major parties’ national committees contract with firms to provide training for candidates and staff.

In Democrat Kathy Hochul’s victory last month in New York’s conservative 26th district, Pendleton and media consultant Jon Vogel, who also worked for Hochul, agreed the candidate started out with a lot to build from.

During their first conversation in training, Hochul explained to Pendleton that she was a “diner person” — that she made her campaign staff stop at every diner they drove by so she could just chat with folks.

“When you hear that, you know that this is a person that at the foundation level just likes people,” he said. “In the work I do, if they like people and they are comfortable talking about what inspires them and the things that are part of their personal narrative, that is a really hard combination to beat.”

Pendleton, who still lives in the Philly area, is a trained actor and member of the Screen Actors Guild and is credited in the 1994 movie “I.Q.” In 2004, he had a few months off from his master’s degree program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and decided to volunteer on Democrat Ginny Schrader’s open-seat campaign in Pennsylvania’s 8th district. It was there he met Brian Smoot, who would later become his partner at 4C Partners.  (Roll Call)

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