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Media advice for underdog Mayoral candidates

20 April 2016

If non-high profile Mayoral candidates want any chance of winning their races this year, they need to become aggressive publicity hounds with a message to tell. If they don’t do this, they have no chance.

What should they do?

Firstly, they need to be proactive with the news media. This doesn’t mean just being available when a reporter wants to interview you, its about presenting that reporter with a carrot that’s too irresistible to ignore.

Here’s an example. Before I continue I should say that Mark Thomas has done far more than most recently, but even he needs to do more. He got some media attention a few days ago about his plan to sell some Auckland assets and buy others with the proceeds. He cleverly talked about an ‘Asset Swap’, rather than the dreaded term, ‘Asset Sales.’

That’s a great message to be running on. However, he should have used that term to milk as much media attention as possible. A media statement with a headline something like: “Thomas announces Asset Swap Policy” would have seen far more coverage. A media savvy person would also have created niche statements for community newspapers focused on individual circulation areas.

The statement would then include some irresistible quotes. Not mundane points, but points dressed up in the form of analogies, examples and emotion.

Then these exact quotes should have been sprinkled through his social media sites. Then they would be scattered among potential voters and remembered because they would have been made in interesting ways. Some media outlets would also have picked them up from here.

Then he would have grown his profile far more than he did and be one of very few candidates who has a plan that people understand and would remember.  He could then build on that as the campaign heats up.

But instead there was only a long winded and mundane statement on his website about his transport plans.

This blog is not about criticising Mark Thomas. He appears to have done more than most candidates throughout New Zealand and clearly has a message to convey. This is something most people standing for council never have. Most just have a placard with their face on it.

But if Thomas and other underdogs want to win, they’ll have to get extremely media savvy by regularly creating news and dressing it up in attractive ways. It’s the only way to get attention in a world where thousands of messages are placed in front of us and the news media each day. Otherwise, no-one will know who they are, let alone vote for them.

For more on my media training workshops, contact Pete@mediatrainingnz.co.nz or 029 200 8555.

Filed under Media Training

Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

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