Earned media can be a huge boost to any campaign, but particularly to a low profile one. Many races appear in the media once, maybe twice all campaign long. When the race is obscure, even one or two articles can give you an advantage with undecided voters.
Keep in mind is that local writers will cover your race, but you have to work at it a little. I've come across very few races that couldn't get at least a few write ups, but in most cases we had to get a little creative.
Always put together a media list, and at the very least send out an announcement that you've jumped into the race. But there's a lot more you can do if you're willing to work at it.
In a race I recently worked with, our opponent wasn't showing up for work on a regular basis. He was also a 12-year incumbent and would have a decisive advantage in name ID on Election Day. We needed to get in the news because we didn't have a lot of money for paid ads.
We talked to local writers about his absence from the office, and they kind of shrugged it off. So we got a little more creative.
The county we were running in had an ethics commission that reviewed complaints against elected officials. So my candidate, the challenger, personally filed an ethics complaint arguing that the incumbent wasn't doing his job.
Presto. Suddenly the media was interested. And not only did we get tv coverage and a couple of write-ups in the paper of record to raise our profile, we framed the race on our terms for the duration of the campaign. From that point on, everything written about the race, plus our paid media AND our opponents paid media revolved around whether the incumbent was cheating the taxpayers or not.
So get a little creative. Don't be afraid to take a chance. You might just find yourself on the front page of tomorrow's paper.
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