If you are running for office, staying in the news and getting free media attention from the press should be a vital part of your campaign strategy.
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How do you get attention? Think in term of pictures, polls, mistakes and attacks. Usually, one of those four will perk the attention of newspaper reporters or radio and television bookers.
In this video are a few examples of how each can be used as a news hook to entice the press into a story and keeping you in the news.
Attacks. This past week, Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina ventured to South Carolina and appeared outside the hotel where Hillary Clinton was doing an event.
As Fiorina belted Clinton for hiding from the press, and took questions of her own, the story was beamed across the country and appeared in countless newspapers the next day. And while the left roundly criticized Fiorina for daring to say anything negative about Mrs. Clinton, CNN did a very flattering story that included rave reviews Mrs. Carly is receiving on the campaign trail. (Click Here to Read Story)
In fact, Mrs. Carly received more attention from this one event than the rest of the Presidential field combined, last week. A priceless headline on the Drudge report led viewers to a story by the New Hampshire Union leader which said that Mrs. Carly packs more substance into fewer words than any of the 2016 contenders.
Polls. They will make news when they are good for you, bad for you, good or bad for your opponent. Capitalize on them when they demonstrate that you are gaining steam during the course of the campaign, or when they show that your opponent is losing ground.
When poll numbers are your hook, highlight the reason you are gaining ground—such as the differences you have with your opponent on an important issue, and the reason your opponent is losing ground—citing some unpopular position or mistake they have made.
Mistakes. When you make one, it will be news. When your opponent makes one, exploit it and use it to your advantage.
Jeb Bush made one recently when he flubbed an easy question on Iraq, and kept the flub in the news by flubbing it for three straight days. It did not take long for his competitors to make news by articulating clear positions on the Iraq war and gaining ground at Bush’s expense.
Likewise, the day the video of Mitt Romney’s disastrous 47% comment went live, the Obama White House changed quickly, pounced on Romney’s mistake, enlisting his cabinet members and surrogate attack squad to pile on.
Pictures. Pictures are news, and more effective than mere words in a story.
I once sent a Presidential candidate to visit a hog farm in Iowa, and a picture of him holding a baby pig was on the front page of every newspaper the next day.
- Want to highlight your compassion for the poor? Don’t do a press release. Invite the press to get a picture of you serving soup in a soup kitchen.
- Getting an endorsement from an important labor group? Stage a photo op with members of the union at a construction site.
- Getting an endorsement from an environmental group? Have the press conference at some bucolic setting with trees, a lake or river in the background.
What if the press doesn’t show up at your photo op? Have your staff take the pictures and put them out with a release to the media.
No campaign plan is complete without an earned media program. If you don’t have one, you are missing priceless and inexpensive ways to keep your campaign in the news, and clips and footage that you can send to supporters that show you are getting good press attention.
Need some ideas for your earned media program? Happy to speak with you. Call me at 845-458-1210. Or email me at Jay@JayTownsend.com.
Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.
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