Creating and implementing a media strategy can be an essential part of your plan to make your college campus more voter-friendly. The CVP toolkit lays out the elements of a successful media strategy.
Determine Your Targets
The first step is figuring out who are you targeting with your campaign. Other students? The Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs? County election officials? Your campaign will probably target all of them at some point.
If you are targeting students, you can most likely reach many of them through the school newspaper. A college administrator will pay attention to the student paper as well but they are also accountable to the larger community. As a result, you may have to broaden your outreach to outside media outlets. The same is true for election officials, who are often elected.
Create a Press List
Now that you know who you are targeting, list all the media outlets that matter to them. Find all of the newspapers, radio and TV stations, and local bloggers you should contact. Include on a spreadsheet the name of the outlet, the reporter who writes on elections or voting issues (this could also be a producer or assignment editor), and contact information.
Have Your Pitch Ready
You should, with the assistance of the Campus Vote Project, develop a 15-20 second “elevator pitch” that you can give to reporters or other people you will contact about your campaign. People—especially reporters—are busy and have short attention spans. You need to hook them right away to make them interested in hearing more about your campaign.
Your pitch should consist of 4 parts:
- The problem
- The solution
- What actions you are taking to achieve the solution
- What is unique about what you are doing
Here is an example of an “elevator pitch” for a student voter campaign:
“Students face more barriers to voting than older voters. One reason is that they lack the information they need to register to vote. Our campaign is working to educate students about their right to vote. We are doing that by working with the College Democrats and Republicans to run voter registration ‘help desks’ every Tuesday and Thursday from 10am-2pm in September to provide students accurate information about registering and voting in [your town or county].”
Talking to the Press
A few tips to keep in mind when talking to the press:
- Remember and repeat your elevator pitch but don’t be a drone repeating your talking points. Add statistics and stories if you can.
- Know the reporter and the publication. Are they “friendly” to your issue? Have they done a story about it before?
- Respond to inquiries from reporters quickly. Otherwise you may miss their deadline.
- If you are asked a question you do not know the answer to, ADMIT you don’t know but will get back with them. This gives you an opportunity to contact them again.
- For print or TV, dress professionally. For radio interviews, make sure you have good cell reception or use a landline.