Are your political news releases from the radio era?

franklin-d-roosevelt-makes political news releaseWe have a message to get out to our voters.

Eighty year ago we would have written a news release then sent it out by teletype for two daily newspaper editions and lots of radio stations.

Thirty years ago we would have written a news release then sent it out by fax for morning newspapers, a local TV channels and some radio stations.

Fifteen years ago we would have written a news release then sent it out by email to the weekly paper, a regional TV station and few radio stations.

Today we write a news release then send it out by email to a couple of regional chain papers and local radio stations.  Then we take that news release and post it to the website. Then we share the news release on Facebook and Twitter, often without even changing the title. Sometimes we might even email it out to our supporters.

The future is amazing.

Technology has enabled us to spend more time duplicating the work of publishing a news release in a format that hasn’t changed much since the Radio Era.

This strikes me as backwards.

Maybe we should stop writing a news release first. Maybe we should write out our message first, and then let technology do the formatting for us.

Or maybe I have gone crazy following to many politicians on Twitter.

If you think that’s the case, that news releases rock and I’m crazy, then don’t visit politicalcontent.mphost.ca.

Don’t use the Political Content Creator. It’s still in beta, so it won’t even save you that much time. Yes, it will auto crop your picture for the best sizes to share on Facebook, Twitter, and email, but really, who needs that.

But, if you are curious and want to see a really bad infographic, check out politicalcontent.mphost.ca

4 Ways To Improve Your Political About Page

About that About Page

improve your political about page

The About page on your political website is one of the most important pages on your website. It has to be more than just a CV in paragraph format. With the amount of traffic the page gets, it is a critical voter-identification page.

If you haven’t identified any voters with your About page then it is time to improve it.

#4 – Add some sub headings

Sub headings help break up the content for the reader and let them decide quickly whether to keep reading. Pages with sub headings help readers get to the bottom of the post. That is critical to making the conversion.

Here is a brief video from Carleton University that provides additional tips on creating headers.

The additional benefit of adding headers is for you to structure your narrative.

#3 – Add some links

The internet was built on the simple hyperlink yet most political About Pages are devoid of links. Adding a few key links to your other profiles on the internet, your legislative page, and positive media coverage will help those pages in search ranks when people are searching for you.

I like to add stories about election victories, but any articles that provide a fuller account of you can be boosted by linking to them on your About page.

Links to other sites should not be the only ones. Be sure to link to articles on your site when you are writing about your current work.

#2 – Add contextual pictures

insert-image-300At the top of the page include your official portrait with links to the higher resolution versions.

Now that you have broken up the page with sub headings, ensure there is at least one picture in each section to reflect the theme or content in the subsection.

After the first picture, ensure the rest of the pictures are not portraits, but pictures of you with voters.

Bonus points if you link the pictures to your photo galleries.

#1 – Add a Signup Form

At the bottom of your page, add the signup form for your newsletter or website. If they have made it this far they are much more likely to want to hear more from you.

Don’t miss this key opportunity to engage the visitor and convert them to an identified voter.

Here are a couple of samples that use at least 3 of the 4 recommendations above. Larry Maguire, MLA & The Hon. Greg Rickford, M.P., P.C.

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Political Post Formats

[box size=”large” border=”full”]UPDATE: The WordPress development team has pulled the improved post format user interface from the next update, but the additional post formats will still be available in WordPress 3.6[/box]

With the 3.6 update for WordPress coming , it’s time I put to pixel an idea I have been developing, Political Post Formats.

If you’re not familiar with WordPress, or the CRG WebProgram, this post may be lost on you; but, in the simplest terms, you’re reading a post right now. Your MP/MLA/MPP website likely uses the classic format of having a news page with a list of entries of news releases.

Currently, 95% of CPC MP websites use this classic model of being a basic “blog” of news releases. The videos go in a video section and the photo albums go in the photo album section.

The classic model seems entirely sensible until you examine the traffic data and reflect on the purpose of your website.

There are three key challenges with the classic model in a digital age:

  1. Hiding the message
  2. Using a non web format
  3. Duplicating work by working backwards

Hiding Your Message

After the Contact page and About page, the content most regularly being viewed is the Photo Gallery and Video Gallery; but, the content you want them to read is in your news releases. By sectioning off your written content from your visual content visitors are missing out.

If you are using WordPress in the classic political model, all your posts are using the standard post format.

By utilizing all the post formats you can locate all your political digital communications in one place. If you still want a distinct Video and Photo Gallery you just need a post format page template to display only those posts.

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Post Formats in 3.6: Now, let’s politicize them:
standard
  •  
News Releases
status
  •  
Twitter sized update
aside
  •  
Long Facebook Post / Short Email Update
image
  •  
Images
gallery
  •  
Photo Albums
video
  •  
Your Own YouTube Channel
audio
  •  
Committee meetings
links
  •  
Links like actionplan.gc.ca
chat
  •  
Have you hear of Reddit?
quote
  •  
“Our Senate, as it stands today, must either change or be abolished.”

[/unordered_list]

[hr]

By using the different post formats you can bring all your content items into one stream on your website.

The Wrong Format

Putting all your content into one stream on the website should also encourage you to abandon the practice of putting “news releases” on the website.

The second challenge to the classic model of political websites is the use of a “News Release” to populate your content.

The News Release format is formatted that way for the benefit of radio era journalists; although it has experienced some updates since then.

A political website should tell users where you stand, why you stand there, and then ask them what they think.

When the voter has to read through a news release written in the third person, on your own website, it re-enforces the perception of the authenticity gap people feel from their politicians.

Workflow

By thinking about political post-formats you can improve your workflow.

All political communication should include the who, what, when, where, and most importantly why.

Instead of writing the draft news release try this first :

  1. Write the draft email to your supporters.
  2. Add some background detail with links and then draft post it to your website.
  3. Add some quote marks and change it into the third person news release format.

All political communication also includes variations of title, description, body, theme (tags), and category. Whether a single picture, a YouTube Video, e-newsletter, or News Release the content you have drafted will dictate where and how you use it, and re-use it for all your communication vehicles.

[ilink url=”http://mphost.yourwebsitehere.ca/files/2013/05/The-Content-Item.pdf” style=”download” title=”Download The Content Item”]This .pdf called “The Content Item” illustrates how you re-use all the pieces I have described above.[/ilink]

 

Enabling Post Formats

Since WordPress 3.6 isn’t out yet there is still time to start thinking about how to harness a Post Format Political WordPress Theme. If you have any ideas, please share them in the comments below.

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Reason #11

The-Tory-Digital-Political-Age

I wrote a post in the fall giving my top ten reasons your MP office should switch to CRG’s website program.

Here is reason number 11 

[quote style=”boxed”]4. The Operative The niche approach is collapsing in the consulting world, and it needs to collapse on campaigns and committees too. It’s time the Republican political establishment started placing a premium on digital acumen.  The GOP doesn’t need more operatives who are defined narrowly as the “political guy” or the “internet gal.” Today’s political environment requires a new breed of operatives who can do both, hand-in-hand.[/quote]

The above is from the article about Republicans needing to make a cultural change. The first three points are interesting and to varying degrees applicable to Canada, but the fourth point on the need to breed a species of digital campaigners is essential. In order to fight the campaigns of tomorrow, we need to have campaigners who understand how to run a poll canvas, but also campaigners who know how to organize and plan it using the digital tools at hand.

That’s why I am calling this Reason #11 for joining the CRG website program. The websites run on WordPress which provide you with a very easy introduction to digital, and at the very least, give you power over one of your most important communication channels.