Robert Hoopes, president, Vox Global
The midterm electorate is comprised of the most passionate voters – devoted and engaged political activists who write letters to editors, blog, volunteer on campaigns, and take part in other civic endeavors. They are at the epicenter of the US political ecosystem.
This year, there will be a tsunami of attention on six key US senate races in North Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana, Arizona, Kentucky, and Montana. As Republicans try to wrestle control of the Senate from Democrats, millions will be spent on ads from campaigns and third-party super PACs, and news coverage will be intense. If you want to break through the clutter, you should start in these critical states.
One of the most effective and cost-effective ways to make yourself heard ahead of the elections is to invite candidates together or separately to come to your facility and promote the visit on your communication platforms.
Also, invite an independent organization to your offices to register employees to vote. This will make it clear to candidates and their employees that you and your organization care about policy issues.
Run thank you ads in local news outlets and online and take care of your legislative champions by helping them win re-election by placing local ads in town newspapers and digital platforms.
Deliver PAC checks locally. All politics is local and it is important for candidates to connect PAC resources with local voters and constituents. Finally, increase digital engagement by delivering your messages to current and potential supporters through promoted social tweets and posts.
Katie Laning Niebaum,
director of communications and media relations, National Restaurant Association
During an election year, every organization and brand is competing with campaign news and noise, even in the world of the 24-hour news cycle. At the same time, Congress’ in-session work schedule slows down as members and challengers focus on their own races, making it even more difficult to leverage congressional activity for media opportunities.
To stand out amid all of the competing news, you should stay focused on your message, look for natural news hooks, and make sure you keep it local.
Campaign themes and issues that emerge during an election year may offer a platform to work you’re already doing. At the National Restaurant Association, much of our communications efforts live in the advocacy world and involve some of the major public policy issues that frequent headlines, such as healthcare and immigration reform.
Stay focused and look for strategic opportunities to bring attention to your cause or campaign. How do your efforts fit into broader media coverage? Look at what is driving the news and insert your group’s related work into that conversation, whether it is playing out in traditional or social media.
If, as former House speaker Tip O’Neill said, all politics is local, make sure your communications efforts are, too. Find local spokespeople to share their stories directly with consumers, elected officials, and the media in target markets. One of our major communications strategies is to share the stories of our restaurant owners and operators and their team members.
These stories illustrate the daily operations of running a restaurant business and the valuable role they play in communities. Find advocates to deliver your message at the local level.
communications director, US-China Business Council, Washington, DC
I have always seen elections as an opportunity. With so much media attention coupled with heightened public interest on races, American elections provide a unique opportunity to have your issue be a part of a political campaign.
To ensure your efforts are part of the debate before the midterms, it is key to focus on three ideas: make it local; interesting; and a gateway for future engagement.
Identify how your cause makes an impact or is impacted at the local level. All politicians want to know how your issue affects the voters they are trying to secure. From US exports to the economic impact of jobs, these points are helpful when making the case about why a candidate should care about your issue.
For anyone who has worked on a political effort, you know the campaign trail is a daily content machine. Reporters and politicians are each seeking to engage and inform voters, but sometimes not all the facts make the papers. Briefings with cause groups and reporters provide opportunities to discuss how issues debated impact the election in a more relaxed environment.
Finally, elections should be seen as a gateway to getting more attention for your issue going forward. From being a source of information and providing helpful platforms to connect voters and politicians, your communications can play a positive role for participants. By properly organizing your issue and harnessing the three ideas above, your communications efforts can take advantage of the upcoming elections.
Robert Hoopes, president, Vox Global