Twitter can help smaller parties get media coverage

9 July 2014

Social media offers smaller parties a huge opportunity to increase their publicity during the coming Election campaign. But how many will take advantage of it?

Most would bet the Internet Party, but there’s no reason others can’t also benefit. Obviously parties will grow their own network of followers on twitter, but how can they increase their profile in traditional media through using social?

One answer is by understanding what the traditional media look for in their quotes and sound bites. Let’s take a hypothetical example to explain my point. Labour release a transport policy that says there will be no more funding for new motorways. Journalists would naturally go to National for comment. Their spokesperson may say something like: “If that policy was ever implemented, the New Zealand economy would suffer.”

That’s a fair answer. But what if a smaller party released a Tweet that made a similar point, but used far more interesting language. For example, an Act spokesperson could say something like: “Cutting funding for roads would have the same impact on the economy as increasing the company tax rate to 80 percent.”

Journalists want spokespeople, whether in person or through other avenues, to use interesting language when making points. This example above is an analogy. Other popular elements among journalists is the use of emotion, examples and action or conflict.

So if smaller parties want to grow there profile in the media, they will need to compete with their bigger counterparts. The best way to do that is to give journalists these elements so they can bring their stories to life.

This is something we focus on with our media training clients for traditional media interviews. But the same principals apply if you want journalists to pick up your social media posts and use them in their stories. Social media is basically made for short quotes. Print journalists can use these as direct quotes in their stories, while broadcast media may contact you to verbalise the quote so they can use it as a sound bite

Remember that social media, particularly twitter, is heavily monitored by journalists. So why not give them what they want, while also getting some good publicity at the expense of the major parties?

For more on my media training or crisis communication training, contact

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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