Election press releases and journalist requests – then and now
Even if you’re with Brenda on the announcement of a snap general election, there’s no doubt that a news issue of this size can be a content goldmine for both PR professionals and journalists. In 2015 we took a look at some of the best press releases around the last election submitted to the ResponseSource Press Release Wire and with just 50 days notice this time around, it might be helpful to look again at the ideas PRs have come up with in the past as well as what journalists want.
What were journalists asking about the 2015 elections?
Here are just a few of the requests we pulled out from a search on the term “General Election” from late 2014 to mid 2015. Requests are anonymised and / or combined where appropriate.
- Will [specific government department] still be here following the general election?
- Should voting in the General Election be mandatory?
- Impact of a change of Government on the charity sector
- Business leaders to talk about the political party they support and its benefits for businesses
- Entrepreneurs to write opinion pieces on what the next government should do for small businesses
- Issues for small businesses and what each party proposes to do about them
- General elections in the digital age and the role of technology in campaigning and voting
- What would certain industries (including recruitment leaders/tech firms) like to see the next government take action on?
- Public sector IT projects – before and after the election, comments sought from vendors and resellers
- Differing political views within couples and families
- Election issues important to certain groups, including women in Scotland, businesses in Yorkshire or the South-East
- Entrepreneurs for a results live blog
- What do the results mean for [specific industry]?
- How did opinion polls get their predictions so wrong?
What are journalists asking about this year’s General Election?
At the time of writing we’ve actually only had 10 requests with the keyword election, so perhaps journalists are as startled and confused as the rest of us. We keep our journalists’ requests confidential but we can still state that so far the requests are mostly for quick reactions from different industries – gold, cosmetics, law, marketing, business owners, retail, education, tech, personal finance. (If you’re a PR and don’t already have a subscription to the Journalist Enquiry Service, contact us for a trial. And if you’re a journalist with a story to write, send a request now.)
What stories did PRs come up with around the 2015 election?
- Social media, opinion polls and voting predictions
Facebook likes predicted a UKIP and Conservative coalition from the 2015 election, according to http://pressreleases.responsesource.com/news/87104/can-social-media-predict-the-result-of-the-general-election-/ – which turned out to be closer to the reality than looking at Twitter users, where Labour’s following was higher. Social media users may also mislead followers on who they plan to vote for.
Younger demographics in some channels can skew the figures, as older people were more likely to vote. Less than a third of students said they were certain to vote in the 2015 election according to a survey of 5,000 by Red Brick Research. http://pressreleases.responsesource.com/news/86740/green-vote-at-record-high-amongst-students-liberal-democrats-and/ – Labour were a strong favourite among this age group at that time.
All those engaged older voters were more inclined towards a Conservative vote, although two different releases identified a soft spot for Nicola Sturgeon:
What about all those requests from journalists about certain business sectors and types? Clear Books found that over half of business owners and managers intended to vote Conservative in the 2015 election: http://pressreleases.responsesource.com/news/87017/small-companies-want-conservative-government-clear-books-poll/
All political parties feature highly in the most hated brands, according to ad agency isobel – the Lib Dems were least hated of the major parties(6th), Labour at 5th, Conservatives 2nd and UKIP a strong first: http://pressreleases.responsesource.com/news/86096/new-research-reveals-the-uk-s-most-loved-and-hated/
- Comparing what political parties actually do:
AbilityNet found that none of the websites complied with the minimum legal standard of accessibility in 2015…hopefully the situation has improved for 2017: http://pressreleases.responsesource.com/news/87098/disabled-website-users-vote-none-of-the-above-/
Property information search provider Landmark had the idea of hosting a webinar to go through the manifestos for policies affecting their clients: http://pressreleases.responsesource.com/news/86966/landmark-hosts-pre-election-webinar-to-compare-manifestos-concerning-brownfield-land/
- Consumer and comical takes on voting patterns
Ibiza-loving Conservatives and long-haul Greens on http://pressreleases.responsesource.com/news/87090/election-survey-finds-britons-holidays-are-linked-to-political-preference/
A spot of prescient comfort-eating from Labour in 2015 on http://pressreleases.responsesource.com/news/87016/election-cupcake-sales-may-predict-the-outcome/
A popularity poll with a difference in Voters Target Unpopular Politicians With New Pigeon Poop Opinion Poll App (sadly the website links from this release no longer work, but no doubt many would welcome a similar opportunity this year).
The photo opportunities provided by awkward politicians trying to look approachable/knowledgeable/human are a stalwart of election campaigns, but they can be turned to good use to promote your client or business. Jeremy Corbyn barely stopped to put his coat on before heading to our home town after the vote on Wednesday (just don’t forget we loved you first Croydon), although we were too busy looking up these press releases to get down to North End to start our own selfie collection. However during the 2015 campaign, Street Crane and Anglian Home Improvements were both much more organised, making the most of their visits from George Osborne and Ed Balls respectively.
What can we learn for this year’s Election stories?
No doubt we’ll be surprised both by what PRs post on our Press Release Wire and what journalists want to know on our Journalist Enquiry Service, but it seems safe enough to conclude:
– Most outlets will want lots of quick before and after comments from their own audience, whether that’s by business sector, company size, age, location or another demographic
– Quotable wish lists from people or organisations readers will recognise (business leaders, charities, man or woman on the street, perhaps even celebrities) go down well with time-pressed journalists
– Research divided by party lines makes for an interesting press release, whether serious (like accessibility or manifesto commitments) or slightly silly (like cupcakes and pigeons)
– Polls about voting intentions will be looked at even more cynically than ever before
– We’d really like someone to build a new political preferences app, preferably involving custard pies, desert islands, or beer (or, just the desert islands and some beer will do. You’re all invited).