Every campaign needs an earned media strategy—especially when funds are allocated at an alarming rate as Election Day draws near. A solid earned media campaign can help you maximize your visibility and reengage those faithful, but tired-of-rhetoric voters. All without shelling out the last crucial dollars of your war chest.
Done properly and strategically, earned media will reap great benefits;
• It gives a candidate credibility (candid versus posed message)
• It is distributed through channels (newspaper, talk radio, TV news) that tends to have a higher voting audience (more likely to hit your target)
• Oh, yes…it’s free!
Here are a few suggestions from Anne Hathway and Kip Tew, our PoliticalBank advisors, to give the 2016 Election field of candidates a boost in their earned media.
1.) Amp Up Social Media—The far-reaching platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are not only great for targeting an audience, but also easy to schedule and manage. To the minute and trending, information that becomes available can be broadcast to your voting base—and it’s completely flexible to your message.
2.) Court Traditional Outlets—Not as easy as a social media blitz, but there are perks to TV, radio and print news. The main benefit to a campaign is that reporters are assigned to a political beat. They have to cover the candidates in the field. They will take your call.
Once you define who to contact and by what communication means—email, phone call, press release—determine how to attract attention. With social media, short videos or blog content that can be shared through campaign volunteers and constituents can be updated easily with every event or rally you attend. Traditional media is a bit more complicated, but it does drive content for Facebook and Twitter.
PoliticalBank advises candidates to take a mixed approach when courting earned media;
• Work an issue on the campaign platform—stay on message
• Focus on the softer side of the issue—make it personal
• Highlight a person(s) to be the “face” of the issue
For example, if the campaign is for a stronger k-12 education system, visit a grade school and open a dialogue with the children. A five minute talk about doing well in school, followed by a bunch of cute kids telling a candidate what they believe their school needs, is sure to get a lot of positive coverage.
Another example is to hold a rally on an issue. Let’s say that you are a proponent of a minimum wage increase. Bring up to the stage the different people who work for minimum wage—the single mom, an elderly woman, the working poor family that works several jobs to keep food on the table. Tell their stories. Focus on their issues. Let them become the face of the issue that the candidate is fighting to resolve. The campaign should already have constituents vetted for this type of media hook—if not–they haven’t done their job.
An earned media strategy is a tool that every campaign needs in their toolbox. It helps stretch the funds raised for hard copy materials and expenses, increases a candidate’s credibility, highlights the human side of the candidate and keeps the campaign message on point and in real time.
Anne F. Hathaway
Ms. Hathaway, a Republican, got her political start in 1988 as scheduler for Marilyn Tucker Quayle during the Bush/Quayle Presidential campaign and then went on to serve Vice President Quayle at The White House as Assistant to the Vice President and Director of Scheduling and Public Liaison. Ms. Hathaway’s resume also includes Executive Director of the Indiana House Campaign Committee, RNC liaison to The White House and 2008 Republican National Convention, Chief of Staff of the RNC, Campaign Manager for U.S. Senator Dan Coats, and Program Director for the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Kipper V. Tew
Mr. Tew, a Democrat, is a member of the Indianapolis Marion County City County Council. He is also a partner in the law firm of Ice Miller LLP. Mr. Tew is a former Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party and also served as Chairman of the Marion County Democratic Party. In 2008 he served as State Chair of the Barack Obama presidential campaign, which put Indiana into the Democratic column for the first time since 1964. Previously, he served as a senior advisor to Indiana Governor Frank O’Bannon, House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer, Indiana Governor Joe Kernan and Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson.