The Brady Campaign issues this press release, and then this editorial magically appears, and calls for ending private transfers under the guise of “gun show loophole.”  The Brady’s play the media game much better than NRA does, I’m sorry to say.  Of course, it certainly helps that there are so many in the media sympathetic to their cause, and repulsed by ours.

15 thoughts on “Coincidence?”

  1. It’s not magic. Brady uses PRNewswire to distribute their press releases. For a few hundred dollars they can send their PRs to hundreds/thousands of media outlets across the country. They can also distribute canned op-eds, pictures, video, etc. Plus, when you open an account with them, you are listed as a “source” so if any of the media outlets which receive distributions from PRNewswire is looking to do a story on guns, the Brady’s name will pop up. They get press because they pay for it and gunnies don’t. The only gun groups which use similar outfits are CCRKBA/SAF and ISRA (which also use PRNewswire) and NYSRPA (which uses readMedia.)

  2. “Though just one of a handful of federal gun laws on the books, Americans can take pride in the Brady Law as a prime example of how strong gun laws work to protect our communities and our families,” Helmke said.

    So thousands of laws qualify as a “handful”?

  3. PR Newswire is not the answer. Thousands of releases are sent via the standard services every day that never get any pick up. It’s a tool, it’s not an answer.

    It’s very hard to form relationships with reporters, and especially editorial boards. I’ll admit that NRA has trouble because the media personalities are generally anti-gun. But relationships are often key. My perception is that they needlessly limit their relationships.

    However, our strength is in our numbers. I would like to see more state-level groups writing and pitching op-eds for publication around their state. Because they have different opinions, they are more likely to be published (provided that it’s well-reasoned and well-written). And there’s nothing stopping the state level groups from getting in with the editorial boards and making friends with the capitol bureau staffers. At least then they know who to go to for opposition comment.

    I would also like see NRA do more to encourage LTEs from members. I know there’s an inherent risk of some folks getting way off message, but that’s a risk in any grassroots effort. You just have to roll with it and use the opportunity to identify your better writers.

  4. Coincidence? No.

    Yesterday was the 15th year anniversary of the passage of the “Brady Law.”

  5. Absolutely having personal relationships with friendly media members is important. I’m not suggesting PRN is the only answer. What it does is give Brady’s, etc. a very cheap and efficent way of distributing their message to a large media audience and letting them know that they are available for comment on the gun issue. They don’t have to be mentioned by more than a handful of outlets to get their name out in front of tens of thousands of people and gunnies can do the same.

    Take your idea of pitching op-eds. Let’s say you want to comment on the antigun stuff a couple of the cities are pushing. How many newspapers are there in PA? Maybe 100 daily and weekly? Now add all the broadcast, speciality and internet outlets. It would take a heck of a lot of time and effort to make friends in each of them. It would take a lot just to do major outlets and I don’t know of any state or local group that has the resources to do that anywhere.

    For a few hundred dollars, you could pay PRN or a similar service to distribute a page long press statement to all of them. If just one contacts you for a quote you’ve basically recouped your cost because so many people will see it.

  6. PRN is for small groups, and should be used only in certain situations. NRA doesn’t need it. Cision and Burrells are the more useful tools, and I know they have and use at least one of those products. The services you cite are for blasting which is rather futile in the situations referenced. Targeting is key, especially if you don’t have relationships yet.

    Pick they key battles and focus on that when they are relevant.

    The other reason the suggested method won’t work, even for small groups, is because you want to target every single paper. That’s not how you pitch an op-ed. You make it an exclusive, unless you’re pitching to extremely small papers that typically rely on syndication for all of their non-local commentary. The Philly papers won’t both publish an op-ed, especially one they know you’ve sent to every single outlet in the state. They want to be unique.

    You’re suggesting that small groups put their energy into every paper all the time, I’m suggesting they be smart with their resources and actually have a thoughtful strategy. If they just want to get a quote out for response to some kind of an action, PR Newswire works some of the time. If they want to push an idea, writing an op-ed and pitching it to the op-ed editor of a single paper is not very hard.

    And don’t even get me started about events. Releases are useless for covering events, the real effort should go into the advisory. And the advisory can be blasted, but targeted follow-up is key. The blast is just so the specific reporter or assignment desk staffer has something in hand to reference when you call.

  7. No, I’m suggesting PRN, etc. gives a lot of bang for the buck for groups that don’t have a lot. NRA doesn’t need it because they can afford to keep a professional PR company on retainer. When you drop to the state/local level, nobody has those resources. It would be great to be able to put the effort into making lots of personal media contacts, writing custom op-eds, advisories and such. If you think it is so easy then go volunteer to do that on behalf of PRPA or whomever you like.

  8. PRPA actually campaigns against NRA initiatives at times, and I disagree with their positions. Besides that, it’s 95% shooting sports, as opposed to a legislative group.

    However, I did take a couple of hours to ghostwrite an op-ed for someone here, worked with him on it, and pitched it via email with a follow-up phone call. In case you missed it, it ran in the largest newspaper in the state on primary day. It didn’t take very long at all, and I wasn’t paid a dime for it. There’s very little reason that a staffer can’t do the same thing. Not all groups have a staff, but they could ask one of their better writers to take a stab at it. It’s not that hard.

  9. You’re kidding yourself if you it’s just a simple matter of asking for writters. Finding halfway decent people to make a serious volunteer effort is a big deal and you are asking a lot. If you think it’s not hard then you go right ahead and put up your time to do just that for whichever group shares your views. Not just a one shot deal, go set an example for everyone to follow. Do it for the next session of the PA legislature.

  10. I’m not so sure that Brady’s playing the media game better than NRA does, so much as The Media plays the Brady-Game Theme Song so often as their own song… We saw the incredible bias and failure to be objective by the Media all around Obama during the race – and the Media does not like the NRA.

  11. Sometimes a one-shot deal is what we call strategy. That’s what I was discussing earlier, in case you missed those sections of my comments. You don’t pick every issue or submit to every paper. You target one or two issues and place in different papers. The fact is that no matter which issue you support, you typically won’t get more than one op-ed a year, and a LTE every 3-6 months.

    You’re kidding yourself if you it’s just a simple matter of asking for writters.


    As for finding quality volunteers, that is hard work. But every single organization you mentioned in your first comment has at least one staff member, if I recall correctly. Finding volunteers is much harder, but it can be done. In fact, the blogosphere makes it much easier to identify potential writers. Sometimes all they need is a suggestion, and I would argue that most, possibly all, have never even made the ask.

  12. I like your plan. Now put it into practice in PA. You said it wasn’t hard so you go right ahead and do it and show everybody how it’s done.

  13. Did you not see the link? I did it. And I will continue to do it when opportunities arise. I’ll use what’s called a strategy – looking for the right person, the right issue, the newsworthiness, and the rest of the news landscape. Not every attempt will result in publication, the the point I’ve been making is that organizations – especially those with staff – don’t even try. That’s the larger lesson.

  14. Yes, I see it. It really is nice you did that. I’m not dismissing your effort. I’m dismissing your assertion that it’s not hard to do it. Paul Gallant, who used to run a small local group but has now moved on to doing research with Dave Kopel, would write pro-gun op-eds for the Rockland Journal News. He’d have one published every month or two on the issues of the day and that went on for years. It took major effort to do that for just that one paper. This is why you don’t see many groups doing it even those with paid staff.

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