Write a Publication-Ready Political Press Release

A political candidate’s success ultimately depends on their campaign’s PR strategy, which impacts the amount, and type, of media coverage they receive. Obviously, that campaign wants its candidate to be in the media as much as possible, but for all the best reasons. 

Press releases are leveraged to achieve that goal. A document circulated to journalists that conveys an announcement about a candidate (or elected official), the political press release is intended mainly to generate coverage and boost publicity.

Therefore, a well-crafted political press release that paints the candidate positively is an essential component to any campaign (or reelection) mission. To understand how this works in action, this guide will cover the following:

What are the main types of political press releases?

As we said above, a political press release could be issued for any variety of reasons, which ultimately dictate the type of political press release you need.

Candidate announcement

This press release is essential to official campaign launches or announcing a candidate’s entry into a race. Its purpose is to inform the public about the candidate and generate excitement around the candidacy. 

Position statement

A press release featuring a position statement is used to announce a candidate or sitting politician’s official view or position on a controversial issue—this might be their stance on Roe v. Wade or the minimum wage increase. 

Reaction to opponent

Under very strategic circumstances, a running candidate’s camp might issue a press release in reaction to an opponent’s stance or activity, usually in a critical manner. 

Campaign news

This press release is used to relay important campaign announcements—the amount of small donor funding in the last quarter or a political milestone, perhaps. 

Endorsement

An endorsement press release is warranted when any running candidate or seated official wants to provide a public high-profile endorsement of a fellow politician in the midst of a campaign. 

Victory or concession

The post-election press release is used quite simply to issue an acceptance of victory for the race winner, along with their vision of the office future, or concession of defeat for the loser.

What should be included in a political press release?

A political press release should include all relevant details to the running or seated official, their campaign, and the press release announcement.

Like any other press release, this information is structured the same way most articles are, with the most important information appearing at the very top, and the subsequent following in order of importance—it’s commonly referred to as the “inverted pyramid.”

To ensure the crucial information is given at the beginning of the press release, see that the first paragraph, maybe two, answer all of the “5 Ws”: 

  • Who is the candidate running?
  • What office are they running for or do they currently occupy?
  • When is the election or campaign event that’s being announced?
  • Where is the campaign event, or what district is the candidate running for office in?
  • Why is this piece of news about the candidate important or relevant?

How should a press release be written and formatted?

Political press releases are typically straightforward, but they do have to follow a standard press release format. Of course it’s worthwhile to flex your creativity to make the release stand out, but maintain structural decorum or journalists won’t take it seriously. 

The press release layout

Press releases are structured like newspieces, following the inverted pyramid structure. The most important details come first and all other details follow in order of importance. 

  • Title: This is concise and catchy, explaining the specifics in less than 10 words.
  • First paragraph: This answers all the 5 Ws. The most important info about the candidate and announcement details appear here. 
  • Second and third paragraph: Here you generate interest by creating an angle. Make the announcement stand out by connecting it to larger relevant issues.
  • Fourth paragraph: Usually this is a quote from the politician or their campaign spokesperson.
  • Fifth paragraph: Any useful but extraneous details appear in the press release closing.
  • Boilerplate: Every press release concludes with a short overview of the organization issuing the release. In political press releases, it’s known as the “Paid For By” section. 
  • Contact info: These are contact details of the press liaison for the campaign.

The press release basics

Once you structure your political press release, there are tips to nail down the basics of filling it in. Press releases are objective, third-person point-of-view, and non-promotional. 

  • Write it like a news article. The key to a good press release is objectivity and facts. 
  • Only use third person. Do not use pronouns like “I,” or “we,” unless it’s a quote. 
  • Be concise. Long press releases don’t get read. Aim for one page of copy.
  • Avoid hyperbole. Don’t use language like “game-changing” or “revolutionary.”
  • Consider the audience. Gear the press release toward who you want to read it. If it’s targeted at voters in a local district, keep that in mind. 

The press release “hook”

Journalists receive hundreds of press releases in their email inboxes every day, so how do you ensure yours is interesting enough to grab and hold their attention?

You build interest in your press release by establishing a “hook.” What this refers to is a connection between the announcement in the press release and a wider angle, such as a trending issue or current news cycle. Make the press release relevant to a larger issue. 

For example, this press release ties Rep. Ilhan Omar’s vote on the Right To Contraception Act to larger political issues at stake in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade being overturned.

Examples of political press releases

It’s important to get a sense of what these press releases look like in action, so we’ve provided some examples here of different types of real press releases.  

Campaign launch

This press release announces a candidate’s entry into the state race for Connecticut’s 80th Assembly District. 

Endorsement

In this example, a congressional candidate announces that his campaign has received the endorsement of Teamsters Local 89. 

Campaign victory

A state representative’s campaign announces a win in the democratic primary in Texas’s 125th District in this press release.

How should a political press release be sent out?

So, you have a well-structured and well-written press release, but how do you actually distribute it to media outlets?

There are two options for press release distribution: either the use of a press release distribution service or emailing it to a handpicked list of media contacts, one by one. 

For a fee, you can pay a press release distribution (“wire”) service to send your press release out to various media outlets. These services have syndication agreements with extensive outlet lists, which means publishing your press release on at least a few websites is guaranteed.

However, the drawback here is there’s no guarantee that the cultivated contacts will publish the press release, or be relevant, so it still might not reach the intended audience. 

Sending it manually means researching media outlets and email addresses, crafting pitch emails, and then sending it to each target contact on the list, all on your own. This can be laborious and time consuming, but could have better results.

Wrapping up political press releases

A political press release is a valuable tool in any campaign’s PR arsenal. You want to control the narrative about your candidate and the campaign, so it’s always a better tactic to act preemptively, and circulate information on your own terms with your own angle. 

By distributing interesting and flattering political press releases, your candidate can stand out in a crowded field and get a jumpstart to stay ahead on voting day. For help priming that campaign press release for distribution, look no further than the experts at Intelligent Relations.