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Mike McCurry

- About the Book

MEDIA RELATIONS HANDBOOK
for Agencies, Associations

Foreword by Mike McCurry
Published by TheCapitol.Net

Brad Fitch's Media Relations Handbook is required reading for press secretaries on Capitol Hill, public affairs officers in federal agencies, spin doctors in political campaigns, PR professionals in nonprofit organizations, lobbyists, and anyone whose job involves garnering media coverage in a town where ink is gold and airtime is platinum.

In Media Relations Handbook Brad Fitch moves back and forth between theory and practice with the grace of a prize fighter, teasing out general principles, then illustrating his points with real-life examples.

A former radio and TV reporter with 11 years of experience as a press secretary on Capitol Hill, Fitch covers the gamut of political press relations, beginning with the principal and his or her message, then showing how this message is manipulated through print, broadcast, and online communications. He explains how to deal with reporters, staff and policy wonks with the sage tone of experience coupled with generous doses of humor.

Media Relations Handbook devotes chapters to special situations including Congressional Campaigns, Federal Agency Communications, and Crisis Communications. All of this highlighted with anecdotes from the most important media battles in Washington over the past four decades: everything from Watergate to Whitewater, Barney Frank to Gary Condit, Sam Donaldson to Howard Dean.

From the pithy quotes that introduce each chapter to the appendices, glossary, and index that complete this guide, Media Relations Handbook is a tremendous achievement. If Washington press relations is a martial art, Fitch is its Yoda. Indeed, James Carville says that "Media Relations Handbook is to political campaigns what The Art of War is to military campaigns: an essential strategic reference."

An amalgamation of the collective wisdom of hundreds of public relations professionals, Media Relations Handbook is an overview of the ideas that have become the accepted rules of communications in Washington, presented in one volume. This book deserves to occupy a spot next to the telephone in every media relations office in D.C. Get Media Relations Handbook today -- and we'll see you in the headlines tomorrow.

"Uncertain how to interest the press in your pressing issue? Having difficulty preparing your media-unfriendly boss for a tough interview? Worried about the next communications crisis and how to handle it? Brad Fitch answers those questions and many more in this crisp, clear and completely useful book."
-- Tucker Carlson Co-Host CNN Crossfire, author

"A seminar from TheCapitol.Net is one of the best ways to learn from the experts about how Washington really works. Now all that insight and information has been packed into this invaluable volume. I suggest you read it, and become your own expert."
-- Steven V. Roberts syndicated columnist, TV and radio analyst, college professor

"Brad Fitch has performed an admirable public service by giving public relations students and professionals alike an indispensable tool. His book provides a road map on both the practicalities and principles of PR, and he shows that honest PR is not an oxymoron. Now it's up to all of us in the media and spin industries to keep our end of the bargain."
-- Ed Henry Congressional Correspondent, CNN, formerly Senior Editor of Roll Call

"This volume is an invaluable road map to the mean streets of a city where information is power and power is everything. Brad Fitch has written a rich 'how-to' lesson for pros and for novices who must negotiate the competitive landscape of America's new media."
-- Ann Compton White House Correspondent, ABC News

Copyright ©2004 by TheCapitol.Net, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to duplicate or distribute this file as long as the contents are not changed and this copyright notice is intact. Thank you.

- Excerpt

 

MEDIA RELATIONS HANDBOOK
for Agencies, Associations,
Nonprofits and Congress

by Brad Fitch

INTRODUCTION

Brad Fitch is the Deputy Director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Congressional Management Foundation. Media Relations Handbook, his magnum opus, is written for press secretaries on Capitol Hill, public affairs officers in federal agencies, spin doctors in political campaigns, PR professionals in nonprofit organizations, lobbyists, and anyone whose job involves garnering media coverage in a town where ink is gold and airtime is platinum.

One of the joys of reading a book written by a master spin doctor is that every page contains a clever turn of phrase. We've compiled the best of these "Fitchisms" into one document, below, including commentary on press relations, communications strategy, policy vs. PR, and crisis communications.

More information about Media Relations Handbook and author Brad Fitch follows the soundbites. Enjoy!


"Fitchisms"

Commentary on Public Affairs Press Relations

by Brad Fitch

On Media Relations

"The press list is the pure definition of your target audience." (p. 13)

"A press secretary's worst fear is a slow reporter and a fast deadline." (p.81)

"[Reporters] consider it their constitutional right and responsibility to ask, probe, question, sneak up on, criticize, cajole, press, and sometimes annoy the public figures they are assigned to cover." (p. 89)

"Many public relations professionals view their principals like a product -- and why not? We package them like soap, market them like soap, sell them like soap...." (p. 161)

"Barely a week goes by in Washington when The Washington Post or Roll Call doesn't fillet some flack or staffer who wrote a dumb memo, misspelled an important person's name in a letter, or had a typo in a press release." (p. 24)

"Many people feel they don't need any media training because they have watched countless television interviews. This is the equivalent of saying you can be a major league pitcher because you've watched Roger Clemens pitch on television." (p 175)

On "The Message"

"It is much more persuasive to connect with an audience member on an emotional level, as opposed to a practical one, and emotions are evoked by touching our values." (p. 57)

"[The Message] must be a clear, concise, value-based image or statement that connects with a targeted audience in a meaningful way." (p. 50)

"Make sure everyone is singing from the same hymnal." (p. 239)

"An op-ed should be a seamless flow, like a casual ride the reader climbs aboard for the three-to-five minutes it takes to read the piece." (p. 33)

"The ultimate thrill of a public relations professional is to see your words in print attributed to someone else." (p. 31)

On Policy vs. PR

"Public policy is too important to leave to policy experts." (p. 187)

"Policy experts seem to have a natural suspicion of public relations types. They often view the profession with skepticism, fearing that some flack will rip apart and dumb down their carefully woven policy just to grab a one-day headline (which, to be fair, we sometimes do)." (p. 183)

"Nothing more riles an over-educated, masters-degree toting, bespectacled policy wonk during a strategy meeting than some brash spin doctor chiming in, 'Maybe we could do it another way that could get us more press.' But, in spite of the hateful stares and lost lunch invitations, that's part of your job." (p. 8)

On Communications Technology

"In the world of public affairs, the most valuable thing someone can give to you today, other than a financial contribution, is her email address." (p. 132)

"With the assistance of someone who understands the office computer system and knows how to make it sing, you can exponentially increase your reach." (p. 12)

"People like dealing with the government online. A web site is the first choice of both the public and reporters who are seeking government information." (p. 213)

On Crisis Press Relations

"In court, all accused have a right to face their accuser; this principle does not exist in public relations." (p. 84)

"If you're standing before a judge in a courtroom, would you want a press secretary defending you? Similarly, if you're standing before the court of public opinion, get someone versed in the rules of that court... more often than not, that's not a lawyer." (p. 190)

"Reporters are absolutely relentless when they think a public official has something to hide... They will hunt down any cloaked detail with a gusto that is unmatched in the professional world." (p. 188)

"In an image crisis, the worst-case scenario is the one most likely to occur." (p. 246)

"It is especially important to make experts available in any crisis when the public safety or health is at stake. People just don't believe flacks in such situations." (p. 231)

"Many leaders want an entire army of public relations writers to respond to one letter to the editor in a small paper, yet will scoff at the idea of devoting necessary resources to defusing a genuine communications time bomb." (p. 233)

"An organization in a communications crisis without a plan is like a blind man trying to feel his way out of a burning building." (p. 246)

 

Copyright ©2004 by TheCapitol.Net, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to duplicate or distribute this file as long as the contents are not changed and this copyright notice is intact. Thank you.

About the Author

BRAD FITCH is Deputy Director for the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF), http://www.cmfweb.org, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education organization in Washington, DC, that provides training, consulting, and research to improve the management of congressional offices.

He began his career in communications at age 14, reading statistical summaries of high school basketball games for his hometown radio station in upstate New York. After working as a radio and television reporter in the mid-1980's, Brad began working on Capitol Hill in 1988. During his 13 years on Capitol Hill, he served in a variety of positions for four members of Congress, including: press secretary for a House member, campaign manager for a House Member, communications director for a House committee, communications director for a U.S. Senator, legislative director for a House member, and chief of staff for a freshman House member. He left Congress in 2001 to work for CMF, where he writes publications on congressional management, conducts training programs for congressional staff, and provides confidential consulting to members of Congress.

Brad received his Bachelor's degree from The Johns Hopkins University and his Master's degree in Journalism and Public Affairs at American University. He has taught at American University since 1997, and currently teaches a course he designed, Ethical Persuasion.

Copyright ©2004 by TheCapitol.Net, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to duplicate or distribute this file as long as the contents are not changed and this copyright notice is intact. Thank you.

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