Publicity is often referred to as “earned media” because you do in fact need to earn it.
I am far from a communications expert, however this brief post is for municipal campaign candidates who are looking for a bit of media coverage from their local paper and radio station. This week I posted a more in-depth instructional video on election press releases and a downloadable template to the City Campaigner Members Portal. These resources are for City Councillor Candidates who are serious about investing in a win. For aspiring candidates and future campaign volunteers, here are some quick points on election press releases:
1. Follow the correct format. Do a quick Google search on press release formats. This 10 minutes of research can be the difference of your information making the news or not. Things like the date, location, and three hashtags at the end of the release are all journalistic standards.
2. Be clear and concise. Write the press release with the information you believe is important and then you can probably cut it in half. Stick to the message and try not to exceed 4 paragraphs. News outlets get tons of press releases a day, if you send them a novel it’s not making the cut.
3. Spelling and Grammar. If you thought your grade 10 English teacher was a stickler for proper writing your local journalist is worse. These professionals are the protectors of their dying craft. If you butcher it with a “who” when it should read “whom”, your release may find its way to their recycling bin. Have someone proof read it a couple of times. Also stick to using short sentences and plain language (much like a newspaper is written).
4. Distribution. Send your press release to the right place. Contact your local newsroom to confirm the desired destination so that your release doesn’t sit in an inbox while it becomes old news.
5. Don’t over do it. Do not be the Boy Who Cried Wolf of the local newsroom. Sending out two or three press releases a week is over doing it and will not take long until the local news starts to ignore you. Save your press releases for actual news, such as a campaign launch, a platform announcement or a major event. Save your update on the best sandwich in town for Twitter, that is probably better suited for 140 characters.
Press releases are simple and can go a long way to take your message or event to the next level. Being a local councillor will not get your message on the front page of the Toronto Star, but maybe the Sudbury Star which still has a fair number of readers. Also keep in mind that most local papers have great Google ranking so hopefully the next time a voter searches your name they’ll get an article about you rather than a reality TV star in the UK.
For more assistance with your municipal election join the City Campaigner Team with a subscription to the members only website.