Committee News is an e-zine, online information newsletter, which gives members of Congress, campaign consultants, media, politicians, pundits, and others with timely information about upcoming events. Members of the public can register to receive either regular e-mail updates or targeted alerts about breaking news. The subscriber list is frequently cross-checked to ensure accuracy.
It’s not much of a secret that politicians love to tell everyone about their achievements, but it’s also not very surprising that they love getting repeatedly told how much they’re doing right. So why would the media be any different? If the public sees politicians making false claims in the media all the time, why should it believe them? If those in charge are too busy making excuses, why should anyone listen? Therefore, the first rule of conducting effective PR: Don’t do it.
Committee News has achieved some prominence in the news media because of its strong distribution model. Members of Congress assign Committee News stories to specific committees or groups of members in their districts or states. There are even times when the stories are sent directly to selected members’ offices, to reduce the amount of paper used on newsprint and mail that has to be mailed. This reduces waste and makes for more environmentally friendly news.
When creating a newsletter for your members, remember that you are providing a source of independent information, not campaign propaganda. Remember that although you may have a special interest in their community or region, you don’t have an exclusive stake in what goes on there. You are not writing from a particular seat in the house; you are writing for the American public, who is interested in the local news and how it affects them. Write objectively, without taking a political stance. Do not take sides.
If you choose to use volunteers or interns in producing your newsletter, make sure you select individuals who are genuinely interested in serving the public. Ask for their resumes, past work experience, references, and any information that might help you evaluate them. Make sure to keep in touch with them. Let them know when they reach certain milestones in terms of their work.
A final consideration is your members’ preferences. As a member of the committee, they will be included in all decisions. Let them have a voice in what is printed, when it is printed, and in what ways the information is presented. The Newsletters you send out may reflect upon your members, particularly if they have a strong opinion about a local story. Take this into account when formulating the content. Keep it current, interesting, relevant, and above all clear and concise.