Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Concerning press releases


It's campaign season again. That means it's press release season again, too, and a lot of them are crossing my (virtual) desk via various lists and such.

Some of them are good.

A few are fantastic.

Most of them suck.

Herewith, a (very) brief primer on campaign press releases:

The press doesn't care what you think. They care what you do.

OK, it's not quite that simple, but close. "News" is generally about action, not ideas.

The candidate supports an audit of the Federal Reserve? Not news (unless the candidate is someone you'd expect not to support an audit of the Fed).

The candidate addresses a crowd of 2,000 at an "Audit the Fed" rally? News.

If you want to get your policy positions covered by the media, do something newsworthy and fold those positions into that action. Don't send out a press release saying what you think. Send out a press release saying what you did, are doing, or are about to do.

Shorter is almost always better. Shoot for a target length of 300 words.

An editor doesn't have all day to read your release. He wants the five Ws (Who, What, Where, When and Why) and some supporting material (a couple of good quotes and basic bio information on the person and organization issuing the release).

Give an editor those things, and he may write a story, call you for an interview, or even just run your release verbatim if he needs filler.

Give an editor a thousand words of argument and he probably won't bother to wade through it. It will go in the recycle bin, or perhaps in that stack of paper he takes home at night for his kids to color on.

Do, however, go with the catchy headline.

Compare and contrast:

"Candidate speaks on VA problems at VFW meeting"

vs.

"Smith to veterans: You got hosed"

Which title would catch your eye?

There's no guarantee that even the best press release will result in coverage for your campaign -- but the better the release, the more likely it is to get you the attention your'e seeking.

For the record, yes, I write press releases on demand, and that demand has been brisk enough that I've decided to monetize it. Click here to find out more.

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