More Notes on Writing a Press Release for the TNDP

Your press release should be written so that a harried editor can, if need be, drop the thing, unchanged into his or her paper. It therefore must not only fill the basic who, what, when, where, why, and how, it must answer a basic question “why do my readers give a shit?” If your press release features the feelings and opinions of someone about whom the vast majority of Tennesseans have never heard smack-talking Republicans who are probably not even from their district, no papers are going to run it.

Maybe you don’t care if papers run your press releases. Maybe, instead, you think of your press releases as a way to communicate with your base and with interested outsiders. Then be sure that your press releases provide information your base needs–information about what Democratic politicians are doing and/or saying that might be of interest to us and steps we can take to support them in those activities.


Maybe you aren’t writing press releases either to inform the outside world or to motivate the base. Maybe, instead, you are writing press releases to send volleys of stinging words against Republicans and to try to signal that you can steal conservative voters. In this case, be aware of the limitations of your abilities and, when you continually get your ass handed to you by TNGOP, switch tactics. I mean, shoot, look at the ass-handing press release, in which someone other that Chris Devaney is quoted, as if there’s more than one Republican who has an opinion on things. Perhaps you could study their strategies? Like, for instance, how (again, looking at the ass-handing press release) their Republican politician is mentioned repeatedly, while the Democratic politician is mentioned once, way down at the end.

They don’t give Democrats any more free publicity than necessary to make their points about their guy. And, even though Gleaves’s plenty mentioned, his words focus on his candidate. He looks good because he’s making Wirgau look good.

Do that! As much as I would like it if Chip kept his feelings to himself, if he has to have feelings, why are they always about Republicans? Why can’t he have some feelings about Democrats? Some Democrat running for state office somewhere must be doing something worth Chip having a feeling about, right? I vaguely recall we might have a guy running for Governor, who’s behind even me in the polls this morning and I only jokingly mentioned running as a write-in candidate on the Pro-Dairy Queen ticket once last night.

There is no shame in studying what works and emulating it. And, face it, the TNGOP’s press releases work better than yours.

(My first set of constructive ideas about what would make TNDP press releases not suck donkey balls.)

16 thoughts on “More Notes on Writing a Press Release for the TNDP

  1. At the risk of continuing yesterday’s impasse, while I don’t want you to cut off the party’s lunch money, I totally support you giving them public spankings like this when they misbehave.

  2. What is your problem with Tennessee Dems, exactly? You complain a lot about Chip Forrester but you haven’t said how you would run things better state-wide. Is it that the candidates and districts all aren’t as liberal as you, they don’t run the campaigns you want them to run, that they actually have to represent their districts in order to get elected and try to do something good for the state? So you would rather have a Republican in office who you’ll never agree with than a Dem? Keep it up – it’ll happen. If you’re this unhappy with state politics, maybe you should start looking for a state that better reflects your views across it.

  3. We’ve also got to be honest about the TN Demcorat party going forward. The TNDP is not going to survive in the state of TN if it doesn’t act conservative. In TN, being pro-life is synonymous with being conservative.

    The city folk may be liberal, but the majority of voters in the state who vote Democrat have been doing so because their particular reps are pro-life and pro-gun. The TNDP is in a bit of a handle because they’ve got to be both liberal and conservative to the city and rural voters. That’s a very hard line to tow. The rural voters who have been voting Democrat for so many years have been leaning more and more Republican because of national politics.

    So…what is the TNDP to do? Ignore the whole issue and let their candidates have their own views? That would probably be best. But the TNDP is fighting for long-term viability right now. They may be just throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

  4. Sally, whatever issues you have with B’s stance on the party, it is hard to argue that the press releases they issue have been sub par. From dropping them almost exclusively on Fridays, to always having almost the exact same format, to just about never being positive about our own side, I don’t how you could disagree with B’s assement here.

  5. Blake, frankly, I think that’s exactly what they should do–ignore the issue and let their candidates hold their own views. No one in the state is all “Ooo, let’s have tons of abortions! Abortion parties for everyone, whether they want them or not.”

    So, regardless of whether we think abortion should be legal or not, we could all (if everyone were working in good faith) work to lessen the need for them. But that would require talking frankly to folks about sex ed and birth control and adoption and not making those things out to be the ruination or salvation of women.

    But if that’s not something the rural Dems and the urban Dems can agree on, then, well, I don’t know.

    Because if it’s not about “saving babies” but about the State wanting the right to force women to do things with our bodies against our will, then that’s never going to be something we can find common ground on.

  6. that would require talking frankly to folks about sex ed and birth control and adoption

    or funding some of the stuff I was talking about in the other thread, that make it easier, healthier, and less punishing to be a mother.

  7. I still agree with you that anyone, including but certainly not limited to the TNDP (ahem – most of my pet causes) needs to proactively set the message and not be driven just by responses to attacks.

    That having been said, the TNDP gets a point of credit for resisting the common temptation to print what Wirgau actually said (see my related post at ). TNDP loses half a point, however, for linking to the video of Wirgau’s speech.

  8. Blake, what you seem to be saying is that Democrats have to act a little bit like Republicans in order to be elected. Such behavior strikes me as despicable and dishonest, if it really is an “act.” It also strikes me as pretty short-sighted to use a tactic for the hope of a short term political gain that, over the long term, eliminates the difference in the minds of the electorate between Democrats and Republicans. Most smart folks work hard to preserve their “brand identity.” Do we think it’s a good idea to give ours away?

    What really chaps me, though, is when Democrats continue to “act like Republicans” AFTER they are elected. Why large numbers of Democratic senators and representatives should vote for a SERIES of right wing initiatives in the past General Assembly is beyond me. And why a lame-duck Democratic governor should feel compelled to sign any of those bills is absolutely inexplicable.

  9. Mark,

    Why would you get upset when Democrats continue to act like Republicans after they are elected. If they did indeed campaign as “Republicans” then they owe it to their constituents to vote in a like manner, to do otherwise would be immoral.

    More importantly Democrats DO NOT have to act like Republicans if by that you mean focus on wedge issues and the like. There are plenty of issues(job creation, environment, education and so on) where the “Democratic” position is the same as the “Average Tennessean” position. It is on these issues that campaigns, and the party, should focus

  10. Martin, I know it’s simplistic of me, but I think if you’re going to act like a Republican, you should call yourself one; if you’re going to call yourself a Democrat, you should act like one.

    Silly, I know.

  11. Mark, reading back a bit, I think i misunderstood what you were saying. I thought you were advocating for both the “act like a repub” strategy and getting upset when the dems voted like repubs, but I see you were not.

  12. Blake, honey, you’re never going to get anywhere until you learn to stop confusing your dog whistles. “Democrat” is a noun, and “Democratic” is an adjective.

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