Talk About Burying The Lead!

You can’t polish a turd.

That expression, while crass, is also a good piece of advice for public relations professionals. Some news is just too dismal to try to spin as a positive. But that didn’t stop Janice Arnold-Jones, a Republican candidate for Congress from New Mexico, from trying. On Tuesday afternoon, her campaign sent out a press release with this headline:

“For Immediate Release: Janice Arnold-Jones for Congress Releases 4th Quarter Fundraising Numbers”

Quick: What’s the first question reporters would ask after receiving that release? (You should probably pick a career outside of journalism if you didn’t say, “How much did she raise?”)

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But guess what? The release didn’t mention how much she raised. It didn’t provide a link for where reporters could find out how much she raised. But it did provide a fair bit of spin about why her lackluster fundraising numbers didn’t matter:

“’This reporting period, we raised less money than our first report because we took a different approach to building our momentum’, Arnold-Jones said.  ‘As my team and I talked with more and more voters, it became clear we needed to operate the financial component of the campaign in the same manner as we all run our households and in the same manner I make decisions as a conservative lawmaker – frugally.  The economy is in terrible shape and everyday folks are struggling beyond imagination.  Rather than push hard for money right now, we asked for their vote and volunteer involvement and they have come through in a big way.’”

Just how unusual is this release? Nathan Gonzales, Deputy Editor of The Rothenberg Political Report and the founder of said, “I’ve seen evasive comments about fundraising, but never a release about releasing numbers that doesn’t include numbers.”

I called campaign manager Justin Rodriguez to get to the bottom of this release; he directed me to the FEC (Federal Election Commission) website.

According to that link, Ms. Arnold-Jones raised just $30,841 in the fourth quarter of 2011 and a total of $75,124 in this election cycle. No wonder she wanted to bury her anemic fundraising. Her two opponents for the GOP nomination have significantly outraised her (Gary Smith raised $125,000 in the fourth quarter, and Dan Lewis has raised $219,000 overall).

Ms. Arnold-Jones and Mr. Rodriguez tried to bury the lead. But that rarely works. A press release about numbers that omits numbers will often gain more attention than a release about lackluster numbers.

I’m not sure why she sent out a release at all. If she was going to do it anyway, she should have included the fundraising numbers in her release and provided reporters with context for why they won’t hurt her campaign. But that’s just my opinion. What’s yours? Take the survey below.

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