Political Communications: What Is Earned Media?

Hat with Press tag political campaign earned media

“Earned media” is the campaign equivalent of public relations.  Getting earned media simply means attracting the attention of reporters and journalists and getting your name or a story in the papers or news.  The best ways to attract earned media is to create media opportunities within your campaign.  This can be done through:

  • Press releases – a one-page document distributed to local news outlets outlining whatever information you wish to impart.
  • Press conferences – an event held specifically for the press, inviting them to cover information you’ll announce at the event, usually a candidacy announcement, a major platform initiative, a response to an opponent’s attack or a bomb-drop of negative information about your opponent.
  • Campaign events – you can send political beat reporters your schedule and hope that they’ll cover things like town halls, meet & greets and the like.
  • Attending community events – often times TV or radio news-folk will attend major community events and give you an opportunity to give a sound bite.  They may or may not use it.
  • Participating in civic organization events – things like debates or ‘meet the candidate’ events are often well-attended by the press.
All of these should be seen as opportunities to get your message out to the voter through a trusted, credible source – the news.  It’s terribly important, however, to be ready for absolutely any question a reporter may throw at you.  You never want to lose your temper or stumble over your message while the cameras are rolling.  Make sure you are prepared and ready to flash a winning smile and your 30 second campaign ‘elevator pitch’ at the drop of a hat.
Also make an effort to be friendly and get to know the journalists that cover politics in your area.  The idea behind public relations is to build relationships with these people.  You will reap dividends by being exceedingly sweet to reporters.

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