The 2008 Presidential Candidates' Use of Frames in Press Releases



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The public relations techniques applied in the 2008 presidential election campaigns reflect the important role public relations plays in providing strategic counsel to American political campaigns. As one public relations tool, framing helps public relations practitioners evaluate and influence the political spectacle. This study analyzes the types and frequency of frames used by the Barack Obama and John McCain presidential campaigns during the 2008 general election. Specifically, this study expands upon and operationalizes three frames from Hallahan‘s seven framing models that are applicable to public relations. These frames—those most common to political communication—include the attribute, issue and responsibility frames. An examination of these frames occurs within the context Web news releases and offers insights into the types of frames commonly employed by the 2008 presidential candidates. The findings suggest that both campaigns employed the issue frame more frequently than the attribute or responsibility frames. This is not surprising given the variability and intensity of the types of issues covered in 2008. What is surprising, however, is that both candidates focused heavily on issue frames in June and July of 2008—the first two campaign months before the general election between Obama and McCain—and not in September or October 2008 when the country experienced economic turmoil.



Framing, Press releases, Presidential candidates