Press releases can live on if you know how to leverage your website
Image Credit: Tsahi Levent-Levi

Ugh, press releases - they are a cornerstone of the communication tools that elected officials use to communicate with both the press and voters; however, they can be very time consuming to create and are we really sure if anyone is actually reading them?


What Is A Press Release?

Perhaps we should start our discussion by taking just a moment to make sure that we all share a common view of just exactly what a press release is. A press release is a written statement that you create in order to communicate your position on an issue to the media. It can announce a range of news items, including scheduled events, personnel promotions, awards, new issues, programs, etc.

A press release can also be used to generate a feature story. Reporters are more likely to consider a story idea if they first receive a press release. It is a fundamental tool of PR work, one that anyone who's willing to use the proper format can use. The real challenge that press releases present is that they are actually quite difficult to write correctly.


How Can You Make Your Press Release Work For You?

Since a press release can take quite some time to create, you’ll want to make sure that it works for you. What this is going to mean for you is that you are going to have to make sure that it has an effective headline and then you are going to have to make sure that your official website helps you to get the maximum value out of each press release.

The headline that you create for your press release should be brief, clear and to the point: it is an ultra-compact version of the press release’s key point. If you took the time to ask them, plenty of PR professionals would recommend writing your headline at the end, after the rest of the release is written. If you follow that instruction, continue on and come back to writing the headline once the rest is done. The headline is known as the eye-catcher and is very important to the whole release.

After you’ve created a knock-out press release with an eye-catching headline, you now have to get your web site to help you get the maximum visibility for it. If you’ve used GSL Solutions' HillTop service to build your website, then you are in luck: it has been designed to help you to make sure that the world notices your press release. Two HillTop features can be used to help your press releases stand out: embargos and tags.

Embargos are simply dates that you associate with your press release when you enter it into the HillTop service. You can type your press release up, get it just perfect, and then set a date for it to start to be displayed on your web site and set another date for it to be removed from your web site. This would allow you to get the word out about an important issue before an upcoming vote and then remove it once the vote had happened. Additionally, tags can be associated with each press releases. What this will do is allow you to display related material on your web site in the same place. Examples of this would be to group all of the “issues” related material together or to group together press releases with information that affected a particular part of your state.


What Does All Of This Mean For You?

Television ads, radio ads, and newspaper ads all cost money and it can be very difficult to determine their impact on you intended audience. However, press releases are free to create and if handled correctly they can have a major impact on the voting public. The trick is to write them correctly and to find ways to get your website to help you promote them.

The key to a successful press release is to make sure that you craft a very good headline. Take the time to write the press release and then come back and fashion a great headline. If you’ve selected GSL Solutions' HillTop service to create your website then you’ll be able to use it’s functions to make your press release have more impact. Using the embargo and tag features will add punch to your message.

Press releases are one of the most effective communication tools that elected officials have to get their message out to the press and to voters. Knowing how to write an effective press release and then how to leverage your official website are two keys to making your press releases work for you. Take the time to do this correctly and you just might be surprised by how effective your press releases become!

- Dr. Jim Anderson HillTop – Political Web Sites That Get The Vote!™


Question For You: How many press releases do you think that you should release each month?

GSL Solutions' HillTop service provides politicians with a way to get voters more involved with the political process. HillTop has been designed by politicians, for politicians in order to provide easy-to-use tools that make updating a political website with current and topical information easy to do. The website becomes a powerful communication tool between the politician and the voters. More information can be found at:

Tags: press release, headline, effective, embargo, tags, political web site, campaign, voters, reelected, issues