• Jordan Sherman

Cut through election season noise to tell your story

On this week's Move the Stairs™ Friday Chat: learn how to get on the news to tell your brand's message during an election year. The news cycle nowadays is 24/7. Toss in an election year featuring a polarizing politician and you may be wondering how you can possibly make your message louder than election noise? Is it possible?

Using our Insider Media Relations™ techniques we aim to teach you how to properly analyze the news cycle to see if it's the right time for your pitch by walking you through a real-world example. We will educate you on how news coverage shifts during election years and where consumers are digesting their news. Lastly, we'll share some ways that you can tell your story without getting sucked into the political fray.

Catch the whole conversation here:

Steps to getting on the news: read the room

First things first: download the free News Cycle Audit Sheet at the bottom of this blog post.

Let's get started!

  • Determine what media outlets you should check before pitching your story

What is your coverage goal? Are you set on a particular local media outlet, such as your favorite TV station? Or are you shooting for the moon with a national media outlet? Are you targeting an online media outlet? Maybe you're trying to land converge in a local or national industry or interest magazine? For the purposes of this blog, we are going to focus on the goal of attaining local media coverage.

In an election season, the campaign is always going to be one of the top stories. According to an article published by the Pew Research Center, media coverage of the 2008 election from the day before the election to the following weekend made up 67% of online news coverage. If you were to factor in the Congressional races, that number balloons to nearly 80%!

This is very important because according to an article published by MIT the number of Americans getting their news from online sources has steadily climbed from 37% during the 2008 election to 43% during the 2016 election. We are living in the digital age so don't expect this number to decline ahead of the 2020 election.

Given everything you just read, getting air time is great. Getting published online is more impactful and will reach far more people. Keeping this in mind, what are elements of your story that will get your brand noticed? Is it appropriate to pitch your story now or will it get caught up in a political whirlwind? Is there other breaking news occurring that will drown out your story pitch or make your story pitch seem insensitive?

Steps to getting on the news: pitch examples

If you're looking for some real-world examples on how you can put our free downloadable one sheet to work for you, be sure to check into our video posted above. We did our own analysis of the Denver, Colorado news cycle. That's our home TV market and we have standing relationships with many journalists at these outlets.

We came up with 3 mock pitches that we will decide in real-time if we would pitch, how we would pitch and when we would pitch that story.

Getting on the news for your intended reasons: avoiding the political fray

"We have a secret ballot for a reason. Any citizen can walk into a voting booth, vote for someone based on their conscience and not have to tell anyone who they voted for.” - Doug Beatty.

This quote is from our VP Sarah Beatty, APR's dad? (I don't remember which). It rings true. You're not obligated to divulge your political beliefs or leanings to anyone. However, there are some easy tells that could detract from your brand's story and offer an unwanted question from a reporter tossing you into political discourse. Below are some things to be mindful of as you're pitching a story during an election year or any polarized political scenario:

  • Social media engagement with political views, including likes, comments, shares, retweets, replies, emoticon reacts

  • Political statements on your mask

  • Yard signs

  • Bumper stickers

The last thing you want is a reporter to do some background research on you, stumble on one of these things and ask you about them. If your story could be tied to a political situation, there's a chance they will ask.

Lastly, as a leader of your office, you have a responsibility to maintain a healthy work environment, especially when it comes to politics. In a recent survey, 50% of polled office workers admitted to being distracted by presidential election talk. It's nearly impossible to avoid but there are ways to encourage your subordinated to handle it.

We thought this recent Forbes article summed it up fairly well. Our favorite piece of advice was to "focus on mutual respect." This may seem so simple but it's inherently important.

As Stephen Covey said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

This quote by Stephen Covey says it all. It's fundamental in listening. Despite what we see on social media every day, it's okay to disagree as long as you've had a mutually respectful conversation. Keeping the topic of politics relatively stress-free for your subordinates will prevent a possible toxic work environment from coming up in conversation while a reporter visits your office.

Each week, we talk about moving the stairs: taking a look at the tools you have and leveraging everything at your disposal to achieve the best outcome and power your PR goals. Download the News Cycle Audit sheet and get to work determining if your pitch is timely based on what's happening around you!

News Cycle Analyzer
Download PDF • 75KB

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