WGA Strike Primer: Doing a Favor for the AMPTP Corporations

05/25/2011 12:20 pm ET

In the spirit of good harmony at year's end, I am going to tell the AMPTP corporations how it can save a great deal of money. Few writers would be willing to do this, I know, but maybe a kindness will be rewarded by their returning to the bargaining table.

Here's how the AMPTP can save several million dollars:

Drop your publicity campaign. It's not working. The public figured things out really early and made up their mind. It's over. All that money you're spending for your Washington operatives -- ka-ching, save it. All that money you're spending on trade paper ads and your nifty website (the real one, not the funny parody) and on Web banner ads (the Web! It makes money! Cool!) -- ka-ching, save it. Save it all.

And you really should save it, since all your TV networks may be shelling out huge bucks in February, for "give-backs" to advertisers after ratings plummeted. CBS alone may have to return in the neighborhood of one billion dollars. (Ouch! That's some snazzy neighborhood. Even for Les Moonves.) And that billion is just CBS.

(Note: the WGA offer would cost the AMPTP corporations together around $150 million over three years. The many billions you'll lose on give-backs in February doesn't seem like good business sense. You might want to have someone double-check your books. I suspect that a decimal point might have gotten misplaced. Just another kindness I pass your way. You're welcome.)

So, forget about doing PR trying to convince some sap that offering zero for Internet content is a rallying cry for poor General Electric and Sony. The public gets it. Zero is not hard to figure out.

How badly have you lost the PR effort? Pull up a chair.

The other day, my friend Phil Caruso wrote me from Albany. Not quite the hot-bed of Hollywood insiders. (In fairness, Albany is not the hot-bed of anything in late-December.) Apparently, his seventh-grade daughter, Sarah, was talking with her friend, Andrea, about the strike. (Either they're precocious or just big TV watchers). Andrea was uncertain why writers were upset, so Sarah explained that they had wanted four extra cents for selling a DVD, plus some money for the Internet. And Andrea replied, "Oh, just give them a nickel and get on with this. So the producers won't be able to buy their second hot tub or have their mocha latteccino with the EXTRA whip cream, big deal."

When you've lost the seventh-graders over designer coffee, you're really in serious trouble. It doesn't help that they're also upset that you took Ugly Betty off the air.

Okay, that was only a parable. And you're numbers-people. So, just for you, here are some hard numbers to show how your PR forays are pointless, that it's over, and you should save your money.

When Pepperdine University did a survey, the public favored the writers by 63%-4%. Given that margins of error are about +/- 4 points, it means potentially 0% of the public supports you. This includes your families. And you.

The Gallup Poll did a study. Americans favored writers 60%-12%. Though this may appear slightly better, it's the equivalent of drowning in a huge lake rather than the ocean.

And then there was the recent TNS poll. Here, the public sided with writers 34%-2%. (Sorry, that's not a typo. With the margin of error, you might be negative-2%. So, you've got give-backs there, too.)

Now, your most rosy-eyed might say, "Hey, this is good! Only 36% of Americans even care about the writers striking!" (Actually, you already took out an ad that said this. I'm telling you -- save your money!!) But it's very bad. You see, during the last general national election, 41.3% of Americans voted. That means about the same percentage of Americans care about the writers strike as care who their senator and congressmen are.

And they favor the writers over you 34%-2%.

It's that terrible in every poll. The public gets it. Seventh-graders get it. Whenever you read someone defending how strong and handsome and clever you are, remember: they're in that "2%" group. Save your money, it's not working.

In fact, all that time you're wasting thinking up sad PR ads that only serve to reinforce your 2% support -- you could use it getting back to the negotiating table.

That's right: every ad you buy, every press release you put out about how much the strike your forced is costing -- it only reinforces that You Are Not At the Negotiating Table. You. The AMPTP corporations.

Do yourself a favor. Save your PR money. Save all of it. Instead, get back to the negotiating table. You'll feel better about yourself, and your families may even start supporting you, too.

You're welcome.

Read more about the strike on the Huffington Post's writers' strike page.