Ok, here’s your mission. You need to get attention for your client by making the right contacts in the media and manage your conversations with them so that you know who’s interested in learning more, who’s not, and who might be.
You need to produce press releases and other content that informs everyone about your client, answers their questions, and persuades them that your message is worth their time and attention.
On top of that, you need to be able to easily follow up with journalists when they inquire about your client and generally do all you can do to attract media coverage.
So, are you a political campaign manager or a PR professional working on a publicity campaign?
Just based on what you’ve read so far, it’s hard to say. It could be either because they both have essentially the same fundamental task of trying to get media outlets to amplify a message through their coverage.
Experienced political consultants recognize the overlap:
PR is the art of shaping public opinion. What ability could possibly be more important in a political campaign? The skills needed to shape public opinion about a candidate, their opponent(s), and the issues are the exact same skills needed for any other PR operation. – Austin Cantrell @ Cantrell Communications
Can campaign managers use PR tools, then? Definitely. Here are the best political PR strategies and tools for election campaigns.
- Build media list with contact database software
- Manage contacts with CRM software
- Create press releases and other newsworthy content
- Reach out to journalists and voters with a PR outreach tool
- Add an online newsroom to your political candidate’s website
Political PR strategies and tools for election campaigns
People who run political campaigns face many of the exact same challenges as PR pros—getting media attention, trying to manage public perceptions, searching for receptive journalists, and more. With fewer in-person events, building and nurturing media relationships also don’t get any easier.
The quest for greater public awareness — whether for a candidate or the client of a PR team — brings together two very different worlds that share a common goal. To achieve it, they can also use common PR strategies and tools to organize their work and measure progress.
Campaign press associates and political PR firms are still responsible for the basics: creating media lists, writing media advisories and press releases, following up with reporters, and more. Even journalists who have covered local and national politics for decades – and have insider access to campaigns – still rely on these communications. – Jacqueline Liu, Vice President @ The Pollack Group
Here are five things that both campaign managers and PR professionals should use dedicated tools for.
Build media list with contact database software
In the search for media coverage, you can never have enough media contacts. Yes, you always have your trusted favorites and other journalists will always find you but stepping up your reach-out capabilities is a must.
That’s why most advanced media management platforms offer access to contact database software. Most of the time, you can search by outlet, geographic location, and focus of the journalists’ work to identify those who would be most likely to be interested in your message.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you have all the media contacts you need for your public relations election campaign — this is a world where more is always better.
Political PR operations utilize the same tactics and tools as non-political PR operations: media relations, message testing, message distribution, media tracking… Maybe most importantly, both rely heavily on a strong media list that must be generated by a media contact software. – Austin Cantrell @ Cantrell Communications
Manage contacts with CRM software
Ok, so you have lots of contacts, and access to a media database likely means that even more are on the way — now what?
Without a CRM tool to organize and manage all of your contacts, you will quickly lose track of everything and be left with a messy collection of names and numbers spread out over your phone, computer, and probably some random scraps of paper on your desk. You can see where this is going.
A good media relations CRM tool will not only serve as your digital contact book, but will help track your interactions with everyone as well. You’ll see your contact histories and easily access any particular conversation you need to check before reaching out to someone.
This makes it easy to quickly get up to speed on any of the many conversations you might be juggling in the middle of a busy political PR campaign, reignite dialogues that have gone cold, or recognize when a contact might be ready to move to the next step.
Create press releases and other newsworthy content
Before you get into conversations with individual journalists, the press release is the default, go-to form of communication for any PR team. Creating them with the same tool you use for your media outreach is a no-brainer, no matter who your client or audience is.
Advanced PR management platforms will give you everything you need to make top-notch press releases. Customize every aspect of the appearance with all the editing options you would expect, usually with a simple drag and drop interface. Add photos, videos, and multimedia for an impressive extra touch — the days of boring black & white pages are over.
A great-looking press release isn’t just about impressing journalists and standing out in their inboxes, it’s an expected part of branding, whether for a candidate or something for sale in a store.
Reach out to journalists and voters with a PR outreach tool
Now it’s time to get your pro-level press release out to the world via all those email addresses in your contact database. When it’s time to reach out and knock these virtual doors, PR outreach tools will help you do it quickly and with minimal effort.
And you can do more than create and send your communications. Tracking the response to your email is another handy function no matter what kind of PR team you’re on. Messages that get opened tell you that the recipient is ready for the next step if you have some kind of funnel ready to go or simply want to know when it’s ok to follow up.
Add an online newsroom to your political candidate’s website
If you want to run a competitive political PR campaign, a strong web presence is an absolute must. Creating a polished, effective political campaign website ensures you have enough visibility as a candidate. Such visibility is especially vital amid COVID-19 restrictions that force all candidates to reimagine how they can reach out to voters. – Eric Taylor, Chief of Staff @ Numero
Once you have a political candidate website covered, why not give it a boost with online newsroom software? Online newsrooms are just what the name says — online spaces where you can post, store and share anything and everything you might want to put in front of media contacts. They can be visually branded to fit your existing look or style, making them appear as a natural extension of your website.
Online newsrooms are the perfect way to stay “live” in the digital age and stay about the create-and-send cycle of conventional press releases. Instead of attaching a PDF, you can simply say “click here” and transport journalists right to the best source of information about your candidate on the entire internet.
There’s no need for journalists to go looking all over the place for the information they need when you can point them to your political candidate website, with all of your press releases archived and everything at their fingertips.
Looking for a PR tool for your next election campaign? Prowly has all these features and more. If you’re curious, check how to use Prowly for political campaign management →
Cover photo by Element5 Digital