You can feel it across the country—election buzz is in the air. As political parties begin gearing up, organizations need to be thinking about how their issues and ideas become part of the conversation.
The federal campaign has already started. Parties are nominating candidates, engaging stakeholders, and building their platforms. This is a significant opportunity for organizations and it is time to make connections and be remembered.
Here are a few tips to help your organization get ready for the next election:
Decide if it hurts or helps to be on the radar
Before diving in, it is important to ask one critical question: Does it make sense for your organization to be top of mind during the campaign?
Elections are complicated. Rhetoric will be high, positions will be taken, partisanship will surface, and the increased attention is not always flattering, especially when issues are used for political gain. Before developing an election readiness strategy, it is important to assess what makes sense for your organization.
Focus on educating political influencers
During an election cycle, party leaders and their candidates will spend a considerable amount of time educating voters on their policy positions and priorities. For organizations looking to be part of platforms, education is a two-way street. Candidate education is a critical pillar of election readiness.
What do you want candidates to know about your organization or cause? Right now, parties and candidates are interested and looking for good ideas. Using multiple channels, you can show what matters most to your organization.
A few rules to follow to maximize your influence:
- Create and deliver messages that are topical and easy to comprehend
- Paint a vision for the future instead of focusing on the past
- Demonstrate values and priorities that are consistent with those of parties and candidates
Look for opportunities to demonstrate alignment
During a campaign, successful organizations know how to be constructive while connecting their issues and ideas to the themes of the day. That does not mean taking a partisan position—it means looking for chances to align with a party’s stated vision or policy positions.
How will advancing your issue help the future government achieve its goals? To be successful, it is important to show why your organization matters, aside from your own self-interest. By developing messages with real scenarios in mind, you will increase your chances of being a relevant part of the conversation.
Think about showing leadership
An election cycle is an opportunity to raise the profile of your organization by stepping out at a time when people are paying attention and expect to hear points of view.
A carefully executed election strategy demonstrates that you are a leader on your issue. It is showing up with a plan, being at the heart of the best conversations, and being remembered for all the right reasons.
Arm your champions and supporters
There is no better time to activate your advocates than during a campaign. The key is providing thoughtful messages and tools to take action. There are a number of tactics to consider, including calling candidates, sending letters, sharing social media content, and demonstrating thought leadership through earned media opportunities.
An election campaign is a bright light that attracts many, but only the best prepared will make the most of the opportunity. At NATIONAL, our team of public affairs experts can help your organization develop an elections communication strategy and navigate government.
——— AnnMarie Boudreau is a former Associate Vice-President at NATIONAL Public Relations
——— Bridget Burgess is a former Consultant at NATIONAL Public Relations