Even in the age of digital media, press releases remain a great way for political candidates to get news out about themselves and their policy positions. But you need to be smart about it and avoid these five common mistakes.
1. The Press Release Doesn’t Help You Win
Every single thing you do on your campaign should be done for one reason and one reason alone:
To win your election.
If an activity doesn’t help you win your election, it’s not worth your time and energy.
This goes for sending out press releases too.
If the press release does not help establish you as a candidate, take a position on issues important to the voters, or contrast you with an opponent, it may be nice to send out to the media but it won’t help you win.
Only send out press releases that may actually help you win the race you’re running in.
2. The Press Release Isn’t News Worthy
The news media, both traditional and digital, are looking for new information to publish.
Hence the word “news” — it’s about the media providing their audiences with new things each time they reach them.
Don’t send out press releases with old information in them.
When you announce your candidacy, you send out one press release, not more.
When you publicly state your plans if elected, you send the release out once and that’s it.
If a major figure endorses you, like the other’s that’s news only once.
Yes, you could and should repeat key information about your plan and your endorsements throughout your campaign, but when you do that in a press release it should accompany new information.
If it doesn’t, don’t expect anyone to publish it.
3. The Press Release Is Sent on the Weekend
Political campaign’s are a 24/7 operation.
But guess what?
The press for the most part is not.
They are still pretty much working a Monday through Friday, 8 hour job.
Forget about the articles you read or the news segments you see on Saturdays and Sundays.
Those are all prepared and made ready to go during the week.
Yes there are reporters covering news and events that happens on the weekends, but its much more of a skeleton crew operation.
If you send out a press release on Friday afternoon or anytime on Saturday or Sunday, no one is likely to read it.
And if no one reads it, it will probably to get buried and forgotten about by Monday.
True, social and digital media runs 24/7 and is no respecter of weekends, but that’s not the only places to have your press releases.
You want to go as wide as possible for the voters in your district to see your news.
So keep walking precincts on Saturdays and Sundays.
Monday is typically a slow news day, and a suitable one for you putting out your press release.
4. The Press Release Uses Unapproved Quotes
Having good quotes are important in a winning campaign press release.
But before you send out that press release, you better make sure any quotes you use in it are approved.
You and your campaign will most likely be writing the quotes for use by the people being quoted.
That’s fine and completely normal.
However, you must make sure the person quoted is 100% on board with the quote attributed to them.
This means you need them to see it in writing and sign off on it.
You can email or show them the quote in person, but make sure they see it.
Telling them the quote over the phone doesn’t work.
I’ve seen elected officials okay a quote on a phone call, then when some heat came a day later, they deny that’s the quote they approved.
This winds up making the candidate who sent the press release look bad.
And looking bad is not why you sent the press release out in the first place.
That’s why you must always be sure the person being quoted absolutely approves and signs of any quotes you use for them.
5. The Press Release Hasn’t Been Proof Read
Like I said above, looking bad is not why you send out press releases.
The fastest way to look bad is to send out one that contains spelling and grammar errors.
Members of the media already look down on you because you’re running for office.
Sorry if you didn’t know that, but it’s true.
Most journalists have a great deal of disdain for people seeing office.
Don’t add to the cynical way they view you but sending them a press release that helps them take you less serious than they already do.
Additionally, some small weekly newspapers and digital outlets will simply publish what you send them as is.
That means if your press release if full of typos, the article they publish from it will be too.
That’s not good for your image with the voters.
Always proof read your press releases.
Then after you’ve done that and corrected the errors, have someone else that’s never seen the press releases proof read it too.
There’s no such things as too many eyes to proof read a document.
This is true on all campaign literature, not just press releases.
Candidate Take Aways
When you’re sending out press releases you always need to do so based on the answer to one important question:
Will this press release help me win my election?
If the answer is yes, then you need to make sure the press release is news worthy, isn’t sent on the weekends, doesn’t contain any unauthorized quotes, and has been proof read thoroughly.
Making any of those mistakes does not help you win your election, and that is always the goal of all of your campaign activities — including sending press releases.
If you’d like to dig in deeper to what goes into a good press release, sign up for our free online training course:
Writing Winning Press Releases: The Secrets of Powerful Press Releases for Candidates & Campaigns.
You can join the training by registering at this link.
In this course we cover why you should send out press releases, how to effectively write them, and the appropriate distribute them to the various media channels.