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11. Media - outlets, free vs paid, min/max strategies

Develop a media plan as part of the overall campaign plan. Determine a budget for how much you can/want to spend on paid advertising. Where do you want to spend it -- radio, TV, print media? Don't forget cost efficient media such as the scroll on the weather channel or classified ad sections of weekly and daily newspapers. Create a media calendar beginning the day after Election Day and working backward with deadlines and production schedules. Don't forget "day after" the election thank you ads and posters. This is a gracious gesture that helps build for the next campaign whether you win or lose.

Studies also show that people act on what they see in various forms of advertising once they've seen that information for the seventh time. Making sure people see you in their mail, in the newspaper, on TV and hear you on the radio make it more likely they will remember your name and the issues you are advocating. One good way to see local examples of media plans is to review campaign disclosure reports of campaigns your committee thought were effective. Where did that campaign spend their media dollars?

Having a media plan can also help out with effective fund-raising. In your mailing have a coupon with check offs for different amounts that correspond with your needs. For example, there could be a box for, "$50 for 5 am radio ads". The coupon can also encourage people to write about their support for the campaign. These writings can lead to inspirations for ads later on or quotes to be used in radio or print ads. Include a check-off for permission to use their quotes so you don't have to get in touch with them to get permission. It would be ideal to let people know of your plan to use their words and name even if they checked off the permission box.

When getting price quotes for ads (print, radio, or TV) tell them this will be a political ad, as they are required to give you the lowest available price. Ask about repeat discounts.

Think of ways to get free media publicity. Do you know any people who work as reporters or editors? What about local public access cable channels or free or talk radio? Do issue-oriented, creative press releases and/or events. With friendly press be sure to follow up and keep in contact. Develop a relationship with individual reporters who will be covering the race. Some community organizations may allow you to place an ad or run a letter free of charge or for a very modest cost in their newsletters.

Good media releases about your candidacy or initiative are very important. Do as much work for the reporter as possible so that the message you want to relay is changed as little as possible. For tips on writing media releases, see Appendix 8.

Follow up with your display ad contact to ensure that the correct ads are run on schedule, and if allowed by policy, placed where requested.

During the campaign, the reporter may try to get the candidate to respond to something other campaigns are doing. It is very important to stick to your message. Know the three points you want to make and answer every question with one of these three points. Do not allow the media to control your agenda. This takes practice and patience. Don't spend your limited time with the press and your limited free column inches talking about someone else's ideas.

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