Local political campaigns don’t have lots of money to spend on TV advertising. They have other, more practical uses for their hard- earned funds, like paying the staff and keeping the lights on at campaign HQ. For local campaigns, free press coverage (also called earned media) is often the only way they’ll ever make it onto the airways.
Of course, getting the press to cover a local campaign is hard, especially when there are bigger and better financed races on the ballot. Getting press coverage can be done, however, with a little ingenuity and some old fashioned hard work.
The Most Important Thing
The single most important rule for getting the press to cover your campaign is that you must “create news.” What most political campaigns fail to understand is that just because they say something is newsworthy doesn’t make it so. The only events, announcements, statements, speeches or other items that the press will cover are those that are newsworthy.
Of course, determining just what is newsworthy can be hard. There are no set rules, and what is newsworthy in one campaign will not be news in another – the qualifications vary with the race. Below are some questions you should think about when determining whether or not your news is newsworthy:
-Is it exciting to people who aren’t following the campaign?
-Is it emotional?
-Is it embarrassing to your candidate or your opponent?
-Are you pointing out a problem?
-Are you offering a solution?
-Is it completely out of the ordinary?
-Does it create a unique visual?
-Does it create conflict?
-If someone saw this on the news, what would his or her reaction be?
-If I saw this on the news, and I didn’t know anything about the campaign, would I want to tell people about it?
-Does this have local appeal?
-Will this appear self-serving?
Reporters Need News
Remember – the media needs news to survive. Reporters have to have a constant stream of newsworthy items to report on or else they are out of a job. Be the media’s friend – offer them true news, and they’ll be more than happy to report it to their viewers and readers, thus garnering free, credible publicity for your campaign.
Also, be sure to read The Best Ways to Prepare for a Political Debate.