Running for Office? How to Plan and Execute Your Formal Announcement

A formal announcement is a press event, a photo op, a chance to drive home a central point about your candidacy…a key point you want in the story’s lead paragraph, and the sound bite on the evening news. Certain things are required to make it successful-press coverage, a crowd, a central message, and a strategy to keep you in the information during the following days. All require a little Campaign Planning. 

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The Press

I nearly always have my clients sit down for one-on-one interviews with key reporters before they make a formal announcement. It is a chance to let a reporter know what makes you tick, what your priorities will be, a chance to share your story, events that have affected your views, and why you think the way you do. One-on-one conversations increase the likelihood that the reporter will cover your announcement. As you approach your announcement day, be in touch with the reporters by phone…they will be more likely to show up if you do.

The Crowd

If you want 150 people at your announcement, you must invite double that number three weeks in advance and badger them on the phone and in emails about showing up. The invitations do not have to be expensive or fancy. Still, they should be graphically attractive and transparent about the time, date, and place, with your phone number and contact information.

The Speech

Don’t try to write it the night before. Good speeches take time to craft, and an excellent delivery requires practice. Ideally, you’ll be able to deliver it without a script. It will have applause lines woven to allow you to repeat your central message several times. Usually, I begin working on the announcement speech for my clients three weeks before the event. We often go through several drafts and schedule at least three practice sessions.

The Post-Announcement Roll-out

Have a plan to capitalize on coverage of your announcement so that you can turn it into more than a one-day story. Announce a significant endorsement a day or two after your formal information. Or advise the press of your travel schedule—speeches you are giving or groups you are meeting with. Have a 400-600 word op-ed ready to go to newspapers that lays out your rationale or a policy position you discussed in your speech. Schedule one-on-one interviews with TV or radio stations a day or two after your announcement and then issue a release about what you said in the interview.


Running for Office? How to Plan and Execute Your Formal Announcement

Some other things to remember about Announcement Day.

1. Make the reporter’s job easy

campaign planning

 They should have a hard and electronic copy of your speech. Make sure they have a good headshot of you and an accurate biography.

2. Make it easy for any television and radio outlets to get the shots they want with high-quality sound

Often it is helpful to have a riser so that TV stations can get a good picture. Renting a mult box connected to a high-quality, rugged wire microphone at your podium is always advisable.

3. Treat the people who attend your announcement well

Light food is a nice touch, but individually thanking the attendees is far more critical.

4. Your announcement day is not for Q&A

Do your speech, and be done. Do not offer up a post-announcement press conference. Otherwise, the news will be how you answered a question, not what you said in your speech.

5. Make sure your cameras record the event so you can use pieces of it on YouTube or in fundraising emails

Move the first one to your email list on the day of the announcement and follow with emails containing snippets from your speech during the days that follow. And when you do, ask for money and make it easy for people to give by providing a hotlink to the contribution page on your website.

These are just a few of the rules and tactics I have used to help dozens of candidates plan and execute their formal campaign announcements.

Have questions? I’ll be happy to answer them. Hit the comment button. Call me at 845-458-1210, or email me at

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Jay Townsend is a highly experienced strategist in politics and the military. He is also a member of the National Speakers Association, indicating his expertise in public speaking. Jay has an impressive academic background, teaching economics at different universities.

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