Video Spotlight: Democrats Press for Family Planning Money

More and more politicos are discovering the power of video press releases, and they're using them to get out more and more of their messages

Title: Stender, Weinberg on Continued Effort to Restore Funding for Women’s Healthcare (A-3019)

By: NJ Assembly Democratic Office

Background: Politicians are quick to issue press releases on any event they deem important. And they’re equally quick to manipulate any media they deem effective. Both those traits have come together in the video press releases that have become common and in some cases popular on YouTube and similar social media.

The latest: Democratic lawmakers have held more than a dozen press conferences prodding Gov. Chris Christie to restore $7.5 million in state funding for 58 women’s health clinics. Christie last month vetoed a measure that would have restored the funds, and Democrats are now saying they will seek an override. Two of the leading legislators in the campaign, state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) and Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Union), held a video press conference on Tuesday to keep up the pressure. “We are not letting this go,” Weinberg said.

Special Feature: A tongue-in-cheek — and sometimes unexpectedly barbed — PowerPoint presentation that takes a look at what the governor could be doing on his summer vacation. The presentation, which comes about 30 seconds into the video, cites Christie’s fiscal 2011 budget accord signed in late June. It also singles out some of its many budget cuts, both for the clinics and for other social service programs. “We’re having a few laughs at the governor’s expense,” said Stender.

Accuracy: Weinberg and Stender continue to argue that the family planning cuts are about political ideology and a nod to Christie’s conservative backers, due to the fact that the clinics provide birth control and some of them abortion services. Christie has said it was about the tough economic times and the clinics were not among his budget “priorities,” since their services could be made up elsewhere. Republican lawmakers were quick to push that point in their own press releases, some of which started coming out before the Democrats’ press conference even began.

Effectiveness: The video is nine minutes long and mostly a single-camera shot, zooming in and out on the press conference itself, with the only break for the PowerPoint. It addresses an issue that the Democrats hope will resonate especially with women voters, and the press coverage was extensive yesterday. “Maybe it was a slow summer news day, but it was packed, everyone was there,” Weinberg said afterward. The video did not include reporters’ questions.

The Power of Video: The Democrats’ video press releases have typically drawn a few hundred hits on YouTube over the course of month or two. Weinberg said it’s not her favorite platform: “It’s not my forte, I prefer the one-on-one. But that’s the new thing.” Christie uses video extensively as well, with considerably more success. The number of views of his videos on YouTube is typically in the thousands, with one having more than 220,000 views.

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