Ramblings: Language in Politics and PR

I noticed something interesting over the past couple of days regarding the titles of press releases and other notices sent out by the Oregon Legislature. I’m on a mailing list for “Oregon State Legislature – Press Release Update” and noticed that the press releases from the Oregon Democrats over the last month have all had very fact-based titles (such as the “Bill addressing independent living programs goes to Governor” from today’s email), while the ones from the Oregon Republicans have mostly had emotion-driven titles/subjects emphasizing how the GOP is reacting/feeling about a potential law. This title, for example, shows outrage: “Defunding veterans is a moral outrage, bait-and-switch politics at its finest” (from the Senate Republicans on 4/26).

If all you know about our state government is garnered from a list of press release titles you are probably going to come away with a definite feeling that the Dem party is cold and fact-driven, while the GOP cares. Isn’t that one of the issues that was discussed *heavily* right after the election, that one of the Dem missteps was too heavy a focus on facts and not enough emphasis on the emotions around those facts?

I don’t know who writes the PR subject lines for the Dems but I’m sure they’re just following standard journalism guidelines (who, what, when, where, how) — but unfortunately this is now the era of propaganda where our government is concerned and the Democrats may need to change their PR writing style in order to be seen as caring. In other words, the PR subject lines/titles may need to become lines that a clickbait site would be happy to post. (Which is a sad change for folks like me who majored in journalism, but that’s the world right now, like it or not.)

I know this may seem like such a little thing compared to some of the things going on in my state and country, but if it caught my attention I’m sure it’s getting through to a lot of people on a subconscious level. I’m definitely not suggesting that the Oregon Democratic party encourage fake news or become clickbait title experts, just that we bring a little more of the passion and drive that pushes us all to march into the way we announce legislation and other news.

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