If you think getting the media to notice your publicity efforts is tough enough already, be prepared.
It might be about to get even tougher!
In the coming year, politics is certain to dominate the news cycle.
That raises the question: How do all of us who are not Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton hope to plow through the clutter and catch the media’s eye?
Well, having a marvelous pitch that demands the media pay attention, regardless of what else is on their plates, is one possible answer. But let me offer another solution that hearkens to advice you’ve probably heard many times in your life: “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!”
Instead of seeing the political season as an obstacle to your publicity efforts, view it as an opportunity. Tying your message to current events is a time-honored method for publicity success. So ask yourself: Are there topics political candidates are discussing that you could offer expert commentary on?
The answer will be more apparent for some people than others.
A financial advisor who specializes in retirement planning could provide insight into what a candidate’s plans for Social Security might mean for the average American.
A business consultant might be able to delve into the candidates’ economics plans.
But creativity will be in order for those whose expertise doesn’t so obviously fit into the big issues of the day.
For example, a professional image consultant might comment on the way the candidates dress.
Did a candidate have reconstructive surgery? That could provide an opening for a plastic surgeon.
None of this means you need to become a political commentator if that’s not within your comfort zone. It’s understandable that you might not want to appear to be aligning yourself for or against a specific candidate, and there’s no reason you have to.
You can approach the topics strictly from an informational point of view, the sort of “just the facts, ma’am” approach Jack Webb preferred on TV’s “Dragnet.”
As you do, consider these tips for getting and keeping the news media’s attention:
- Follow the news. This is always good advice for anyone who wants to get the attention of the media regardless of the calendar, but it’s probably even more so during the political season. Keep track of what’s happening so you know what the latest hot topic is, then think about whether there’s a way you can tie yourself to that topic. If something you’re knowledgeable about pops up, pitch yourself quickly before interest dies and everyone moves on to something else.
- Review the candidates’ platforms. Every presidential candidate has a website with their stands on the issues and many candidates for other offices do, too. Go there and scroll through the possibilities to see if there’s a fit for you. Even if a topic isn’t the center of debate at the moment, you might be able to pitch an idea to the media based on what the candidates have said about higher education, health care, veterans’ benefits or another evergreen topic that would appeal to readers, viewers or listeners.
- Polish your message and be available. Candidates, their campaign aides and other people trying to do what you are trying to do will be vying for the same limited space in print and on the air. That means radio talk show hosts and print and TV journalists will be sorting things out by looking for the most engaging guests and the best informed sources. Make sure your messaging is strong, professional and quickly gets to the point. Once that message attracts someone’s attention, be responsive. With breaking news stories, journalists are on a deadline and need you now, not tomorrow. If you can’t adjust your schedule to accommodate their needs, they will move on to the next person on their list.
Will politics be the driving force behind every media opportunity in the coming year? Of course not! Other unrelated topics will bubble to the surface and an especially well-timed or well-written pitch might land you a great interview.
But the presidential election is certain to use up more than its share of the media real estate, so it will behoove the publicity minded to take advantage and slip yourself into the conversation that everyone is already having.
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P.S. If you want assistance getting your message to the media, give us a call at 727-443-7115 ext. 215 or get your Free Media Analysis here!
Marsha Friedman launched EMS Incorporated in 1990. Her firm represents corporations and experts in a wide array of fields such as business, health, food, lifestyle, politics, finance, law, sports and entertainment. She consults individuals and businesses on a daily basis and is frequently asked to speak at conferences about how to harness the power of publicity.