In today’s politically charged atmosphere, shaping public perception is more important than ever for politicians and political organizations. Whether it’s a campaign for office or a policy initiative, the ability to effectively communicate and influence public opinion can make or break a political agenda. That’s where political PR comes into play.
By leveraging the power of strategic communication and media relations, political PR professionals can shape the narrative surrounding a candidate, party, or issue. In this article, we will explore the key strategies and tactics to effectively use political PR to shape public perception.
By understanding and implementing these techniques, political organizations or publicists can gain a competitive edge and win over the hearts and minds of the electorate.
The importance of political PR
When doing political PR, the mission of a PR professional is to help their clients get attention by developing the right contacts in the media. Moreover, managing conversations with these media contacts is crucial for a successful political PR campaign.
In order to initiate and maintain these conversations, PR professionals need to create press releases and other newsworthy content that will inform people about their clients. This content should be designed to answer these people’s questions, and persuade them that the message is worth their time and attention. Additionally, PR specialists need to have the ability to follow up with journalists if they have any questions about the clients. A good PR pro should also do everything in their power and to the best of their ability to attract media attention.
If you’re doing PR in politics, the question is whether you are a campaign manager working on political PR strategies or a PR professional working on a publicity campaign. Either way, both people have relatively the same fundamental task of communicating with media outlets to amplify a campaign message through coverage.
Experienced political consultants definitely recognize the overlap in the two areas. Austin Cantrell from Cantrell Communications states, “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 same skills required for any other PR operation.”
So, with that in mind, can campaign managers use PR tools? Of course, they can. Let us look at some of the best political PR strategies and tools used for election campaigns.
Political PR strategies and tools
As mentioned previously, political PR campaigners have many of the same issues as regular PR professionals: gaining media attention, managing public views, finding responsive journalists, and so on. Building and cultivating media relationships isn’t any easier at the moment, given that the pandemic has resulted in fewer in-person events.
The pursuit of greater public awareness, whether for a political candidate or a client of a public relations firm, relies on conventional PR methods and tools.
Here are the five strategies that both campaign managers and PR professionals should implement to achieve political PR successfully.
1) Build a media list with media database software
As a PR professional, you can never have too many contacts when it’s time to obtain media attention. Of course, it’s expected that you will always have your favorites, and other journalists will always find you. Nevertheless, you must always work towards improving your outreach ability. As a result, the majority of complex media management platforms include media database software. You can usually search for journalists by an outlet or geographic region. By doing this, you can find individuals who are most likely to be interested in your message. It is critical not to be tricked into thinking you have all of the media contacts you require for your public relations election campaign – more is always better in this environment.
Do you need help finding media contacts to connect with? Pressfarm can help you connect with over 1 million journalists, bloggers, and influencers across niches, publications, and categories. In addition to helping you with media relations, Pressfarm can also arm you with quality content that appeals to these professionals.
With a professional press release, some engaging guest posts, and an eye-catching media kit, you can capture media attention when it matters most. By distributing this content to the right media outlets and startup directories, Pressfarm can help your brand feature in relevant search results.
With custom media lists from Pressfarm, as well as their database of 1 million+ bloggers, journalists, and influencers, you can connect with the best media contacts in your niche. By building relationships with these people, you can tell your brand story widely.
With a PR package from Pressfarm, you can build effective media relations and put your brand on the map.
2) Manage contacts with CRM software
Without a CRM tool to organize and manage all of your contacts, you would quickly lose sight of everything. This would result in a jumble of names and numbers scattered on your phone, or computer. This is in addition to some pieces of paper on your desk.
A robust media relations CRM platform will operate as a digital contact book for you. It will also help you to keep track of your interactions with everyone. You can easily view your contact records and quickly access any conversations you need to review before contacting someone.
This allows you to rapidly catch up on any of the numerous discussions they may be handling in the thick of a hectic political PR campaign. You can also restart conversations, or recognize when contact is ready to move on to the next stage.
3) Create press releases and other newsworthy content
The press release is the default, go-to form of communication for any PR team before they engage in talks with specific journalists. Writing a press release is a no-brainer once you have the right elements.
Thanks to advanced PR management tools, you should have everything you need to create top-notch news releases for your political PR efforts. You can change your visual branding with standard editing tools, usually with a simple drag-and-drop interface. You can also include images, videos, and multimedia for a more spectacular finishing touch – gone are the days of drab black-and-white pages.
A well-designed press release isn’t just about impressing journalists and standing out in their inboxes. It’s also a crucial aspect of branding, whether you’re promoting a political candidate or a product for sale.
4) Reach out to journalists and voters with a PR outreach tool
Now is the moment for you to send out a news release announcing your political public relations efforts to all of the email addresses in your contact database. When it’s time to reach out and knock on these virtual doors, PR outreach tools will make it easier for businesses to do so quickly and efficiently.
Reaching out to relevant journalists, influencers, or media outlets with the goal of presenting a company, creating relationships, and growing brand recognition is what PR outreach is all about (primarily through media coverage). The definition of public relations outreach hasn’t changed much over time. However, the targeted results, methods, and techniques for media outreach have.
Getting backlinks, garnering publicity exclusively in online magazines, or reaching out to reporters via social media was not high on anyone’s priority list in the past. Today, these are some of the best ways to build online visibility for your brand.
Let’s look at some of the steps you need to take for effective PR outreach:
Have a PR outreach plan
You cannot expect to receive much attention if you pitch your brand story to journalists or outlets that are unfamiliar with you. In reality, the success of your public relations outreach is likely to be determined by the relationships you cultivate beforehand. Even if a formal media outreach strategy isn’t required, you should launch your PR outreach actions ahead of time. Connecting with a journalist or other media professional before you have news to announce is important. If you can do this, then once you have news to share, your name will be familiar to the person you’re pitching your news to.
You should begin by determining what you will tell the world about your brand in the following months and where you will publish your news. You should then concentrate on your media contacts. If you already have a list of relevant journalists, you should categorize them (for example, by the themes they cover) and develop tailored lists for your PR outreach.
Experiment with different channels and content
Email is commonly used for PR outreach, but there’s a catch: not all journalists value email pitches (in fact, a survey from Fractl revealed that just about 20% of writers find email pitches to be fundamental to their work).
So, what does this mean for your public relations strategy? It means that you shouldn’t limit yourself to only sending emails.
While email pitches are the preferred point of contact for most journalists, you should also aim to use other channels (social media, phone calls, networking events) and experiment with the content of your pitches.
It doesn’t matter what the content is as long as you are clear about your PR outreach goals (e.g., organizing an interview with a senior CEO, promoting original research, or announcing a new product release). It’s also important to demonstrate that you can be a valuable source.
You should also remember that media outlets thrive on exclusivity. For this reason, providing journalists with exclusive content can help you stand out in their inboxes. At the same time, if you’re offering exclusive content, you should not reveal all of your important information right away. Rather, offer the most important information that will reel a journalist in right away. Once they’re hooked, you can encourage them to approach you for more information. You can do this by offering to provide a thought leader for an interview, sharing insightful statistics from your research, or contributing quotes for a story that a journalist is working on.
5) Add an online newsroom to the political candidate’s website
Once you have built a website for a political candidate, it is helpful to boost it with an online newsroom. Online newsrooms are precisely what they sound like – online platforms where you can post and share any information you want to communicate to media contacts. You can brand your newsroom to align with the branding of your other assets, making it look like a natural extension of the website.
Online newsrooms are an excellent tool to stay alive in the digital age and stay on top of the traditional press release create-and-send cycle. Instead of drowning a journalist in email attachments, you can simply say “click here.” Upon clicking, journalists will be sent to the best source of information about your candidate on the internet. With this strategy, you can link journalists to your political campaign website. Ideally, this website should have all of your press releases and other content at easy access, eliminating the need for journalists to go seeking material all over the place.
In contrast to traditional media coverage, an online press room allows you to manage your own narrative and determine what information you want to make public. It’s also a go-to spot for journalists, influencers as well as new and existing consumers. It’s also useful for staff who are curious about what the company or political candidate that they work for has been up to.
Regardless of what industry you are in, PR is essential to get the word about your brand out there. However, the right public relations strategy is even more crucial in politics where you need to shape public opinion. Whether you do your political PR in-house or you outsource your political campaign efforts, it is important to get your message in front of the right audience when they’re paying attention.