Well we have just three months to go until Election Day. Candidates and parties will be launching their campaigns for the Westminster election and will be attempting to set the tone for the campaign to come. Yet, despite this being a golden opportunity for you to set out your stall amongst the party faithful many parties either don’t invest in these types of events or just do them badly.
Being the public service that we are here on Slugger I thought I would put together some tips for a great campaign launch that should stand a candidate in good stead for the campaign.
1. Go as soon as possible- Some parties think that late campaign launches help get them some attention close to the poll. However, I always feel that the sooner you set out your stall and pitch it helps you provide narrative and definition for your supporters to get out and knock some doors.
2. Don’t do it in private-It beggar’s belief that you would hold a campaign launch and not ask members of the press along to hear you speak and then accept some interviews afterwards. The entire point of a launch is to let the public know that you are running and what you stand for. Look at it this way, how often will you ever get to speak at an event with most of the audience being on your side? Let the media see this.
3. Don’t nuance your message-Pick two of three key themes for your launch and stick to them. Candidates are often tempted to do a tour de force at these type of events, DON’T! This is your chance to give yourself definition and narrative.
4. Interesting content-The best campaign launches contain those with interesting content are always the most successful. Make sure you can announce two of three new policies/commitments at your launch and this will help your garner some coverage.
5. Party support-If you are standing for a party, you should have a bigger platform behind you to help you gain traction. Political party social media platforms are always a great way to help a candidate promote their message, ensure your party press officers are at the ready to tweet and RT interesting content. The DUP has really upped their game in this regard recently.
6. Be different- Like most elections, voters are going to be hit with a variety of different messages during this campaign. There will need to be something interesting and different at your launch to really stick with people. Last night, Mairtin O’Muilleoir had a musician play in the middle of his launch and DUP had their main social media account do some witty engagement with disgruntled voters. All of this worked well as it demonstrated a different angle of both Sinn Fein and the DUP.
7. Live streaming-Sinn Fein adopted a brilliant idea last night that judging from the social media feed worked really well and that was live streaming the launch online. If some voters cannot get out to your event, then why not bring the mountain to Mohammed as they say and let them watch it from the comfort of their own home.
A lot of this is inside baseball to an extent, but there are many marginal seats out there that will be decided by just a handful of votes, it is important to start as you mean to go on with these things.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs