Tips for Libertarian Activists

Libertarian Party media kits and cultivating journalists

Last updated by Tom Isenberg

Much of the following information comes from a former journalist who is now in public relations.

Q: What should a media kit include?

A: It should look professional, not home made. Include a Nolan Chart survey (a.k.a. "The World's Smallest Political Quiz"), the LP Program (not the huge platform), a cover letter, and a reply form which asks them whether they'd like to receive a free sampling of libertarian magazines (Reason, Laissez-Faire Books catalog, etc.), brochures, and a VIP subscription to the state newsletter (so they can keep on top of your issues; assuming of course that your state newsletter isn't pathetic.) The form should also have a special space for their comments and/or questions (since they're reporters). Include a business reply mail envelope (and fax number) so they'll send in their responses. You can then tailor future contacts and mailings to reporters who care enough to respond.

Q: How can state and local parties develop good relationships with reporters?

A: Nobody is run more ragged than the daily or weekly news reporter. His/her concentration is 80% on what's happening right now, 10% on what happened yesterday, and 10% on backgrounding himself about unfamiliar subjects. Individually, they vary greatly in maturity, self-knowledge, and experience. If their cynicism is not developed from reporting experience, it is a traditional attitude they embrace to fit in with their on-staff role models.

They look upon Libertarians as just another political party, and individuals within it as "sources." Developing relationships with reporters is the original "double-edged sword." After awhile, if they can't find anything wrong with what you're doing, they may look -- if only to tell themselves they are being "objective". For example, they will purposely seek out detractors of Libertarianism for quotes in a given story.

Nevertheless, you can bet the Ds and Rs know local reporters by name, statewide. They try their damnedest to cut a reporter out of the "herd" and groom him/her for future stories, knowing full well the reporter with the most sources wins the newsroom games. On the other hand, if reporters develop a good working knowledge of libertarianism, it will affect the very questions they ask their sources, which will affect what they write and in turn what people read every day. This process often occurs without the reporter even being aware of it.

After you send out media kits to journalists who cover "our" beat (after the elections), you can call them up and invite them to lunch to talk about the local/state LP. Local Libertarians could develop relationships with the reporter as Rs and Ds do. As I said, this is a two-edged sword. But if local Libertarians become respected information sources (reliable = accurate), they will be consulted concerning Libertarian views on any number of upcoming official decisions or current events. The local Libertarian should be a respected fact source even for non-political events. Reporters, remember, also thrive on (1) scoops and (2) feature stories on unique persons/interesting events. Reporters may return the favor when steered to a "good" story.

A nurtured respect earns you access to one-on-one coffeetime chats with them about politics. You have the right to state at each clatch what is on and off the record. When a reporter chats with you, he most likely will be on duty, covering his beat. Such coverage includes chats over coffee or lunch. While you are developing the relationship, the reporter will be aware of your intent. It's all right with him if you can help make his time profitable in terms of providing highly current and often little known facts for his editorial mill. So be prepared in that area, too. Find out what your reporter's beat is (schools, city, etc.) and toss him some story leads whenever you can. That is the key. Daily reporters are cautioned not to accept lunch or other favors. Weekly reporters are, for the most part, less cautious.