Media, Management, Marketing, Politics & Pragmatism

An Ozark E-Zine

Editorial Note: The following comments originated as private emails. Thus, as a matter of respecting privacy, the names and identifying features of those they were written to have been removed. Suffice it to say, however, that the people receiving said missives are each shakers-and-movers in the realm of Arkansas politics and if anyone reading these notes happens to agree with me, I encourage you to turn your preferred candidates on to this page... ~Christine,

----- Original Message -----
Subject: Follow-up on activist mobilization training

I trust you've received the current newsletter (cc below) from MoveOn, but before we get to that and my use of it to illustrate a type of 'template' for news releases (as you requested), let me say thanks for an excellent meeting. As I noted then, y'all give me hope for the future.
I'll freely confess, however, that this has little to do with the didactic recruitment training itself and everything to do with your handling of the presentation of it and the quick-thinking innovation of the group as y'all resolved those little bumps that came up in the road. There was a definite air of "team strength" wafting throughout the environment all evening, heightened most especially at those times when the group 'achieved' a self-determined group goal, which is of course experientially Illustrative of so many things about which we chatted... which in turn brings me to sharing a few more comments on the 'news release' agenda:
First please allow me to suggest that in order for any organization to maximize resource effectiveness, everything the organization publishes (online, PDF, audio/video, hardcopy) whether brochures, flyers, white papers, agendas, handouts, DVDs, etc., should be written to the 'clean copy' news release standards we discussed because this is the best way of assuring that your organization's words and intentions are correctly quoted by media -- because the greatest cause of media inaccuracy is that the facts of the matter have been, by the organization, couched as promotional hype and thus the reporter must 'translate' what the organization said about itself into 'clean copy' before it can go to print... And like the old 'telephone' game, this is where miscommunication rules. 
Also, by preparing all materials to this 'clean copy' standard you enable ANY and EVERY volunteer to become a well-equipped 'media rep' of your (marketing) campaign, making it possible for them to walk into the office of their hometown editor and hand him or her something (a brochure, a flyer, whatever) that is of 'news release' quality -- effectively magnifying the potency of your campaign's entire workforce. Thus for all these reasons (and more I won't delve here) if you truly want to get the maximum effectiveness out of the time, effort and energy that everyone in a group *must* invest to make a project work, upholding this 'clean copy' standard in all published materials is a critical bottom line.
Applying this thinking to the following MoveOn newsletter, let me say that (as a private citizen) I endorse the 'energy independence' concept and think Obama is doing a great job. As to the media-effectiveness strategy outlined above, the MoveOn newsletter does not conform as it is written with a strongly self-promotional slant which would never get published verbatim and in which a reporter or editor would need to invest significant time, effort and energy (as I have, below) to convert the furnished copy into any type of newsbrief or even a calendar announcement. Thus the chances of any published column-inches resulting from this particular MoveOn distribution are exceedingly low. Essentially, this is the choir singing to the choir and (with the exception perhaps of died-in-the-wool supporters who happen to own a news publication) chances of it swaying anybody's mind or getting published by 'mainstream' media are probably non-existent.
To ensure that your news releases pass this 'promotional/marketing' test, make sure that all is done from one two-fold perspective, that of giving ample/factual information to keep existing supporters abreast of ongoing activities and/or new developments and at the same time to enable non-supporters with factual information (NOT hype) that may provoke them to re-think their position and choose to change their minds.  
Thus a great news release (and 'great' news releases are the ONLY ones which should be distributed -- so the editors of publications actually start to look forward to hearing from you!) must combine all the emotional art of persuasive rhetoric with all the journalistic science of clean copy -- communication standards for which are best expressed by the old saw: First you tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em (the hook), then you tell 'em (the body), then you tell 'em what you told 'em (summary statement). 
In this context, the hook (lead/introductory) paragraph accomplishes two things: #1 -- Grabs your readers (aka: the editor's) attention by somehow provoking that "openly questioning state of mind" we were talking about and, #2 --Summarizes the pertinent details which will be elaborated upon in the body of the text.
The body of the text elaborates point by point on those elements introduced in the hook and ONLY expresses opinions inside properly attributed quotes.
The summary statement should -- ideally in one rich sentence containing a profound quote -- pull all these various threads together as a clear definition of whatever has been described in the body of the text. Something the reader can 'latch onto' and then also enable direct/immediate action with concise contact information which ALWAYS includes a LOCAL person's name, a LOCAL phone number and a website URL where more information on this subject may be found.
In light of all this I have taken the liberty to convert the following MoveOn newsletter into a news release which communicates the same information and makes the same points but does so in conformity to the media management & marketing principles expressed above. Note that my version *could* have gone out nearly verbatim as a 'newsletter' --- but as previously stated, the original version would NOT double as a news release... Thus do you see how effectiveness is amplified and work-load is reduced by adhering to this methodology...??? Anyway...
You will find my revised news release immediately following the verbatim MoveOn newsletter, below. Sincerely, I hope you find this information useful. Again, many thanks for the quality program you put together. I earnestly meant it when I said y'all give me hope. ~Christine
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, September 22, 2006 9:50 AM
Subject: You've been challenged by Barack Obama


Yesterday, Senator Barack Obama challenged progressives who are serious about energy independence to stand up this November for a new direction in government. You can watch his full address online, and read the transcript here.

So we're answering the call, by launching the Great Call for Change Challenge next Saturday, September 30th. We're aiming to call hundreds of thousands of voters—and raise money to reach move voters.


Dear MoveOn member,

Yesterday, Senator Obama delivered a speech in which he challenged MoveOn members: You want clean energy? Then, "it's time to stand up for a new vision of government this November."

MoveOn members stood up last weekend when we made over 150,000 calls together. Will you join us for the next round Saturday, September 30th, for the Great Call for Change Challenge?

We are aiming to break all our records for calls in a single day, but we can't do this without you.

To make these calls, you can either host a house party or sign up to call from home.

Hosting a party is easy, all you need is access to a printer and someplace for folks to gather and make calls. To host a party, click here:

If you can't host, you can still join in! You can call from anywhere you have a phone and an Internet connection. To call from home, click here:

Callers in the Challenge will set their own goals, and here's the really cool part: we'll raise the money we need for our final Get Out the Vote push by asking folks who can't call to pledge an amount for every call you make, just like a "walk-a-thon." So your calling not only moves voters, it raises money too.

Before we can ask for pledges, we need a sense of how many calls we can make. So we need to know today—can you call voters on Saturday, September 30th?

Senator Obama's speech on energy independence was part of our Progressive Vision series, inviting national figures to address the issues MoveOn members picked for our positive agenda. Here are some highlights from Senator Obama's address:

George Bush...needs to defend his vision of government—and that's a government that can't, won't, and shouldn't solve great national challenges like our energy dependence.

You see, it's this timidity—this smallness—in our politics that's holding us back right now.  The idea that some problems are just too big to handle, and if you just ignore them, sooner or later, they'll go away.

In the middle of the Cold War, we built a national highway system so we had a quick way to transport military equipment across the country.  When we wanted to beat the Russians into space, we poured millions into a national education initiative that graduated thousands of new scientists and engineers. If we hope to strengthen our security and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, we can offer no less of a commitment to energy independence.

This is our chance to step up and serve.  For decades, we have heard President after President call for energy independence in this country, but for decades, we have fallen short.  Well it's time to call on ourselves.  We shouldn't wait for the next time gas hits $3 a gallon—and we shouldn't accept any more headlines that talk about a dying auto industry or a terrorist plot to use oil as a weapon against America.  We should act—and we should act now.

Together, we can accept this challenge to do what it takes for a clean energy future. Right now, that means pulling out all the stops to win back Congress. Call for Change is a tested and proven way that each of us can help make that happen from our own living room.

This Great Call for Change Challenge is our biggest opportunity yet—but we can't pull it off without you. Please join us from home or wherever you can on Saturday, September 30th and make a few calls. You can sign up right now at:

Host a Party:

Call from Home:

Yesterday, Senator Obama reminded us all of why MoveOn members are working so hard, when too many others have given up. As he put it, we "still believe in an America where anything's possible...we ...still dream big dreams."

Thanks for giving us all a reason to believe.

–Ben, Marika, Tanya, Justin and the whole Political Action team
  Friday, September 22, 2006

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"Do you want energy independence?" That is the question being posed to voters by phone-bank volunteers in "The Great Call for Change Challenge" marathon slated for Saturday, September 30.

Hailing the voter mobilization project as "our country's biggest opportunity yet," self-identified political Progressives such as [insert name of locally endorsing/sponsoring group(s) here] and, are orchestrating the educational stump to garner national support for Senator Barack Obama's call for voters "to stand up for a new vision of government this November."

"In the middle of the Cold War," Obama said, "we built a national highway system so we had a quick way to transport military equipment across the country.  When we wanted to beat the Russians into space, we poured millions into a national education initiative that graduated thousands of new scientists and engineers. If we hope to strengthen our security and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, we can offer no less of a commitment to energy independence."

Senator Obama's remarks were delivered during one in an ongoing series of Progressive Vision conferences which bring together national figures to address current issues that have achieved priority importance during MoveOn voter-surveys, the top three of which are currently "Health care for all", "Energy independence: clean renewable sources", and "Democracy restored."

"Together, we can accept this challenge to do what it takes for a clean energy future," said Ben Bradzel of MoveOn. "Right now, that means pulling out all the stops. The Great Call for Change marathon is a tested and proven way that each of us can help make that happen from our own living room." According to MoveOn, [X-number] of volunteers have participated in previously coordinated national outreach campaigns. Here in [insert name of local community, ie: Conway, Arkansas], [X-number] of volunteers have signed up to make calls and [X-number] of phone-banking house parties are scheduled to be held this Saturday. 

"Yesterday, Senator Obama reminded us all of why we are working so hard. As he put it, we still believe in an America where anything's possible. We still dream big dreams," summarized [insert name of local contact person and affiliation title]. According to MoveOn, last weekend volunteers made over 150,000 calls and the group effort is aiming to break this record on September 30. For local information about, to become a volunteer with and/or to host a house party in support of The Great Call for Change Challenge, contact [fill in LOCAL contact info, here including LOCAL website if one exists] or visit the website.


Anyway, just one more note from me.... As you may already know the --30-- symbol at the end of a news release indicates to the reporter/editor that information which appears below it is NOT for publication, and somewhat in this vein I must say that if the foregoing news release were distributed and then the phone-bank volunteers spent all their chat-time "pitching a script for donations" rather than delving the issue (which I sadly believe is what's actually going to take place) the overall scenario of the news release NOT matching the action would so gravely detract from the campaign's credibility as to do it unfathomable harm. On the other hand, y'all could get real creative with this 'house parties' idea... by doing them like 'pizza-parties'  or 'bring-a-dish dessert buffets' for example... Remember... bottom line, freedom in the pursuit of happiness is what it's (supposed to be) all about. ~C





----- Original Message -----
Subject: I like your style...

Hey.... good to meet-ya on your website!!! And I must say, having surfed it a bit, I am impressed... especially as I know from personal experience the weight of your comments, re: "I am my own publicist, web master, speech writer, fundraiser, driver, mechanic, bread winner, treasurer... scheduler, etc." and "I've never had $7,000 of disposable income in my life..." I would amend your sentiments, however, that seven thousand dollars is the amount of money many people have to live on for an entire year and to spend it on politicking is simply wrong... at least in context of the way 'major' candidates throw money around. That is, I agree totally with you: Common sense enables a person to do a lot with very little, thus when you have a lot you can do a whole lot more...
I also applaud your 'greening' approach to Arkansas schools, however I would take educational reform a huge step further by enacting policy and integrating programs which enable parents with the means to be their children's 'primary educators' from birth through age 12. FYI: I am a homeschooling mom with hands-on experience who sees the ignorant stupidity abundant around us and attributes it in good measure to the abysmal failure of our public education system considering most especially that we now, in office, have the 'cream of the crop' of our present educational system, with dear George W. at the head of the class....
This is abysmal. And not just in my opinion. Many, many, many scientific researchers into the processes of 'learning' wholeheartedly agree that the ONLY way to clear this clutter is to return as a nation to our 'homeschooled' roots, but to do so with 21st Century technology & panache... to build our 'community infrastructure' by empowering the enrichment of the 'nuclear family' (no matter the gender make-up thereof). By enabling each family with the training, technology and resources needed to take fully accountable responsibility in the activity of independently sustaining themselves and preparing their own children for meaningful, satisfying, comfortable, safe, respectful, companionable, exciting, inventive, outreaching and happy lives in an ecologically sane, culturally friendly, financially stable and energy self-sufficient world.
Respectfully, the ways and means of our current educational lexicon has ADDED ENERGY TO the militarization of our nation. This starts by conscripting tiny tots into daycare facilities (with funding supplemented by tax dollars) so that mommy & daddy are 'free' to be 'wage earners' and pay the taxes that deprive them of being full-time parents -- a conversion of 'raw energy' into action -- see: -- which, besides being injurious to all parties involved, makes absolutely no pragmatic sense!!! 
Further, as the public school education continues, young people are increasingly segregated (by age, for one example), stratified (by economic standing), and 'hierarchy-ized' (ie: to accept and affirm unquestioned the edicts of anyone who presents self as a 'superior'). Yet consider that all of this 'role models' the antithesis of what we as a society say we want our civilization to look like, still we are force-feeding this formula to our children from birth seemingly ignorant of our own profound (common sense) proclamation that 'children learn what they live...'
Anyway, this is obviously a hot-button topic for me, as are (from what I've read so far on your website) many if not all of your various themes. Thus when you get elected I would like to submit my resume to serve as your Communications Director or, if you have no one already in mind for the post, as your Chief of Staff.*
Thanks for putting it out there... If you let me know your public schedule I'll do my best to meet-up with you somewhere along the way and/or if you're ever in Van Buren County, know the welcome mat awaits you at our homeoffice abode.
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired,
signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed,
those who are cold and are not clothed." ~President Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953 
C.L. (Weiss) Beems
media & marketing management
POBox 211, Shirley, AR 72153

* I'll go on record now to make this same offer to any candidate who sees the sense I've elucidated here and who, along with ABBA, dear Martin, and every thinking person worldwide (including myself) "Has A Dream..."