Covering Your Bases on The Big Issues This Election Season

May 25, 2012

by Danny Selnick, VP, Public Policy Services

by Danny Selnick, Vice President of Public Policy Services, Business Wire DC

The upcoming presidential election and national political conventions are looking to be a contentious time.  No doubt this will be an interesting election cycle where also the entire House of Representatives is up for grabs, as is nearly one-third the Senate.

So will the president (incumbent or newly elected) have a Congressional majority that can push along and support legislation that’s near and dear to him? Or will the country have a divided Congress that will keep it in political gridlock? The stakes are huge with political and economic and even global ramifications. Not even the pundits can agree. But one thing’s for sure, professional communicators with some interest in the outcomes will need to get the word out. The question is, with what strategy?

No longer can public affairs communicators rely solely on getting their message out to traditional media. They must also reach out to grass-roots supporters, influentials and voters by using social media — and use it effectively in creating powerful networks and communities. Additionally, communicators must use powerful search engine optimization tools to make sure their news is seen.

Let’s not also forget that the United States Supreme Court will be handing down its decision on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Should the Court let the Act remain as is, not much will change and the law that was enacted two years ago will continue to be implemented. There will be those organizations and state governments that will remain opposed, but they’ll have to abide by the ruling. However, should the Court rule against the Act, no one really knows what will happen. Dismantling what has already been in effect will not be easy, and the Republican Leadership (including Mr. Romney, as well as those even at the state level) will have to come through on their promise of a better plan.

In sum, public affairs/corporate communicators and government relations professionals should be working on their messaging and thinking about the tactics to reaching all their key audiences. One more very important point to mention is that the American public (and voters) is not homogeneous. Far from it. Communicators need to remember to include messaging to the Hispanic community (that has been growing in numbers, power and importance) as well as to African-American, Asian-American and other groups.

Selnick is Business Wire’s Vice President for Public Policy and LatinoWire Services and developed specialty targeted services that are designed to reach any organization’s key audiences — from the media to decision-makers … to getting your message in front of the public that goes online looking for news.  The Public Policy Wire also includes Issues-Focused Lists that reach beat reporters by personalized email — including Health Care and Presidential Campaign.


Tweeting the Campaign: Three Ways Social Media is Changing the Way Reporters Cover the Election

March 5, 2012
by Shawnee Cohn, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/New York
MRT

Shawnee Cohn

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo recently proposed that 2012 is going to be the year of the “Twitter Election,” referring to the power that the social network offers presidential candidates to engage with voters.

Not only are candidates contributing to the Twitter conversation, but the media is also breaking important campaign news in 140 characters or less. Here at Business Wire, we offer all of our Public Policy and Election news at the Twitter handle @BW_PublicPolicy.

In response to this trend in news distribution, Twitter recently created an official account, @TwitterForNews, which offers tips for journalists on how to cover the 2012 election most effectively.

As part of Social Media Week, The New York Times hosted a panel discussion which delved deeper into the topic of how social media impacts political coverage. The panel featured:

The panelists offered compelling evidence for the argument that social media is critical when sending out your election-related news. Here are some highlights of how journalists utilize Twitter and other social networks:

To monitor breaking news: Stevenson stated that “every political reporter uses Twitter as a news feed all day long.” Smith agreed, admitting that he now heavily relies on Twitter traffic, in addition to some RSS news feeds, to get the day’s headlines. Instead of tuning in to watch the debates on television, one could simply scan all of the highlights by solely reading relevant tweets, noted Hamby. However, both Hamby and Stevenson advised that it is important to occasionally detach yourself from Twitter. Taking a step outside the Twitter realm helps journalists to avoid snap judgments and observe the opinions of those who are not as involved with the social network. Being that reporters rely on various mediums to get their news, it is important to send out your message on multiple platforms, such as a news wire, Twitter, mobile alerts, etc.

To accurately relay readers’ real concerns: Michel discussed how social media offers journalists the capacity to “systematically engage people” and therefore “find stories that you wouldn’t otherwise.” Smith also uses Twitter as a “place to find questions” from the public, rather than answers. Social networks allow the media to get a feel for what people are wondering about, and to consequently be more responsible to their audience, said Stevenson. For example, in the recent cases of the Komen/Planned Parenthood decision and the SOPA bill, journalists monitored the negative reactions to the policy choices on social networks and chose to report on the backlash in depth. The Washington Post places importance on reflecting “what’s happening socially,” and incorporating the “conversation around things” into their reports, says Zamora.

To interact with other political reporters:  Stevenson explained there is a “clubhouse effect” when it comes to political reporters; they tend to engage in discussion with one another and this can sometimes lead to a closed feedback loop. This creates a sort of “virtual spin room” that plays out in real-time. You can watch and learn from this ongoing conversation by following multiple political journalists (you must follow both users on Twitter to be able to see @ messages). It is also critical to establish yourself as a credible source if you are trying to gain the attention of any number of these reporters. CNN and other major media will not report anything on Twitter that they would not report on any other platform – a valid source is always essential.

For more information on Social Media Week, visit socialmediaweek.org.You can find the latest election/campaign news by registering at www.businesswire.com, or by following @BWPolitics and @BW_PublicPolicy.


Don’t Forget Who is Also Interested in Your News — Congress and Wall Street

January 30, 2012
by Danny Selnick, Vice President, Public Policy Services, Business Wire DC

by Danny Selnick, VP, Public Policy Services

Did you ever think that your earnings or hiring news might really be of interest to members of Congress?  Well they are.  When a company has positive earnings or announces expansion plans,  it may tie into job stability and growth — not just at the company, but across the particular states where the company has operations.  Members of Congress want to know about news back home — what’s affecting their constituents.  After all, they’re voters.

But staffers on the Hill aren’t personally reading through the massive amounts of news coming into their information services.  Instead, they are more likely to have filters with keywords that automatically pull out stories of interest.  So, make sure you consider how your news is likely to be searched by public affairs audiences when crafting content.  Keywords typically used by elected officials in tracking news include his or her name, the district (city) they represent, or a particular issues they’re involved with.

So if a news item mentions  Cleveland, OH, for example, it’s a good bet that Dennis Kucinich’s office (and others representing Cleveland) will see the story.  It could even become part of their news summary or daily news briefing.  Same for the Senate as well.  Because not all news releases contain good news, Hill staff need to know about that too … who knows how they might be able to help?  And now with the economy all about jobs and the hope it will improve, these news items are more important than ever.

What about news from advocacy organizations?  Did you ever think your issues based news would be of importance to industry analysts on Wall Street?  Your news can play a role in the ratings of companies and industries analysts follow.  Analysts do more than go over financials, read news releases, visit plants and hold conference calls and meeting with corporate leaders.  They’re looking for news that will have an affect on companies and industries they cover.  Issues-focused news from advocacy organizations can have an impact — if the issue is big enough.

Like members on the Hill, analysts have a plethora of news feeds to keep abreast of what’s happening.  So if you’re trying to make a point about some legislation, don’t forget to get your news to those covering Wall Street.

Whether you’re an advocacy group, association, non-profit, union, government agency or corporation, if you have important issues-focused news, Business Wire’s Public Policy Wire can help you deliver it to the decision-makers, influencers and media you need to reach most.


Reaching Public Policy Audiences: Choosing the Right Words & Platforms

November 24, 2010

by Danny Selnick, Vice President, Public Policy Services, Business Wire DC

BW VP of Public Policy Services Danny Selnick

November’s mid-term elections are over and voters and pundits can talk ad infinitum about who’s in, who’s out, and why — and even what challenges President Obama and his administration face because of the shift in power in the House and a narrowing of the margin for Democrats in the Senate.

We’re sure to see Republicans (and Tea-Party members) try to overturn sections of the recently passed Healthcare Reform Bill.  There’s also talk of repealing recently passed financial and oil industry regulations.  Then there’s the issue of keeping or repealing the “Bush Era Tax Cuts,” the need to balance the federal budget, and free trade — all against the backdrop of creating jobs and getting the economy working again.  Still on the long list of agenda items for Congress and the Administration are education and energy reform.  One thing’s for sure: there will be no shortage of important issues coming up over the next two years.

With “divided government” the new reality in Washington, organizations need to develop a coherent communications strategy to begin building support for “what’s near and dear to them” in advance of when their issue comes up for discussion.  In some cases (like the expected attempt to dismantle parts of the Healthcare Reform Bill) an issue may be “push-started or stalled” at the state level.  Communicators must get their message out not just to media, but also to decision-makers — and perhaps even more importantly, to the voting public directly in order to engage and mobilize support at a grassroots level.  That’s especially true because, as shown in this last three election cycles, the court of public opinion (and voting behavior) is highly fluid.

Public affairs communicators are faced with a variety of challenges as to how they can effectively get their news into the hands of all their intended audiences.  Engaging online audiences, from journalists to activists, helps boost visibility and credibility.  But, first you have to learn and analyze the most popular terms and keywords used to frame issues in media coverage, social media conversations and online searches.  This information can help guide you in writing press releases and other online communications that improves search engine optimization (SEO).

For example, there aren’t universally agreed upon terms to define many of our nation’s debates (one person’s Obamacare is another person’s landmark healthcare legislation), so knowing and researching those terms and their weighted influence on audiences is critical to communications outreach — affecting how your news is seen and viewed and by whom.  A number of free keyword analysis tools are available, and Business Wire experts have written a number of blog posts that detail SEO tips for press releases.

Once you’ve crafted a well-written press release with relevant keywords (and modified landing pages with matching terms), it’s crucial to get your news widely disseminated by an authoritative source to relevant media, influencers, websites and search engines in addition to the individual outreach to your personal contacts.  That’s where we come in.  Business Wire provides a multi-platform approach to news distribution that goes beyond simply emailing and posting news to your website.  While email is just one distribution tool used by communicators, it is limited in reach to contacts on a particular list … and its accuracy is dependent upon any last updates. The newswire, is designed to reach “desks” of reporters and editors, decision-makers at the federal and/or state level with direct feeds, and to give unparalleled online visibility with advanced SEO capabilities and full-text posting to thousands of news and information web sites and systems.  Plus, Business Wire content is a trusted, authoritative news source by Google and other search engines, as well as major news organizations.

Proper use of keywords in a well-written, engaging press release, issued via Business Wire’s Public Policy Wire is among the most effective ways to reach directly key audiences, while engaging the public in your conversation.


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