A media relations primer
The news media can be a helpful partner to you during TurboVote implementation. Contacting local TV, radio, print, and digital media regularly can help spread the word about what’s happening on campus and lead to greater student and community awareness. Don’t forget to keep student media organizations informed, too. Student newspapers, campus blogs, and alumni publications are all great opportunities for some free media attention.
Communicate with the public through a press release
A news release doesn't have to be complicated. A simple, straightforward press release is an effective way to broadly publicize your partnership with TurboVote and dedication toward voter engagement. If your institution has a communications, university relations, or public affairs office, contact them to see if they have any specific requirements around crafting a news release. You may want to draft a version first so the information you’d like to convey is clear. If you have questions or want guidance at any time, don’t hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Democracy Works Director of Communications at (347) 766-9037.
Remember to reach out to on-campus media as well! College radio, newspapers, and online blogs can be a great source of publicity for your voter engagement efforts. But don’t take for granted that they’ll run your story—pitch it to them the same as you’d pitch an external media outlet.
Once a release is approved, you can distribute it electronically. An email with the release as the text body or an attachment will do the trick. Don’t forget to try and put it on your university’s website for easier cross-posting to social media. Check with your institution’s communications office and find out if they have a pre-existing press list they use to send releases.
Press release must-haves
Title: Put into clear words what it is you want the press to know. E.g. “University A Partners with TurboVote to Simplify Student Voter Registration.”
Dateline: This is the date of the release and the city from which it is being sent. It should appear at the top of the news release!
Brief introductory paragraph: In a few sentences, it should describe the TurboVote partnership and what students will gain.
Quote: A two-or-three sentence quote about the partnership from someone representing the school or university should be included. This quote should be approved by the person to whom it is attributed. A quote can also be provided from someone at TurboVote upon request and with adequate notice
Descriptive paragraph: This paragraph should provide more details about elements of the partnership and might also include information about the history of TurboVote, how the partnership formed, and why TurboVote is beneficial for students.
Link to your TurboVote co-branded website with referral code: This will provide context for the media and another opportunity for students to see the web address.
Contact information: Your press contact should be listed so the media have a point of contact for any follow-up inquiries.
Press document examples
Louisiana State University’s student publication, The Daily Reveille, published an article titled “LSU SG, Geaux Vote LSU partner to launch voter registration service TurboVote.” This is an excellent example of writing about TurboVote! The article provides accurate descriptions about TurboVote’s features and how LSU in particular seeks to take advantage of TurboVote to its fullest.
A student-written letter to the editor of a school paper or a local news organization can be a great way to introduce TurboVote to the community.
Announcing your institution’s partnership with TurboVote can be a great way to get the attention of the wider community and can help you begin to build a coalition for voter engagement on campus.
Coordinate with the media using a pitch
Making a pitch, the presentation of a potential story idea, involves communicating with the media to show them why they should cover your new partnership with TurboVote. A pitch to the campus, local, state, or national media is most often done with a specific media outlet in conjunction with an already-sent media release and is usually handled through a university or college relations, communications, or public affairs office. It is highly recommended that you coordinate with these offices before speaking to the media directly. Again, if you would like assistance or guidance at any time, don’t hesitate to email email@example.com or call the Democracy Works Director of Communications at (347) 766-9037.
Once you have been in touch with the appropriate office at your institution, they may want to discuss how best to discuss a potential story with the media. Finding a story perspective that is simultaneously appealing to the media outlet and beneficial to your institution can sometimes require nuance but sticking to the basics will give you a great foundation.
Potential pitches you might be able to make to a media outlet include:
- an exclusive interview with students, faculty, staff, or administration. Discuss this possibility with these individuals (and the office of university relations) beforehand!
- an exclusive interview with a staff member of TurboVote. Please contact TurboVote prior to making this pitch to ensure availability and a timely response.
- find a reporter with a specific interest (e.g. education) and offer to talk about your institution’s new TurboVote partnership in more detail.
- coverage of a registration event you’ve coordinated.
Social media engagement tips
Want to be a social media pro and ensure all students know about upcoming registration deadlines, civic engagement events, and TurboVote as they scroll through their phone? Here is our list of tried-and-true digital best practices.
1. Be direct and brief.
Those subscribing to your social media channels are likely to see your post for only a brief time, so use concise language.
Ex: "Today is National Voter Registration Day! Visit our TurboVote site to register to vote and sign up for free election reminders: [insert link here]."
2. Include a call to action.
Social media can foster conversation as well as action. Asking your followers to participate in a pre-planned voter registration competition with a rival school, for instance, can produce greater results than passively distributing information.
3. Use simple hashtags.
When available, use hashtags in your posts to create an easy avenue for campus interaction.
Ex: #NationalVoterRegistrationDay, #GOTV, #[yourschoolname]Votes, #TurboVote
4. Insert visual content.
Photos, videos, and GIFs can create a more compelling social media post. Post digital posters for campus registration events, photos of your school mascot using TurboVote, or a short video of students talking about why registering to vote is important to them.
5. Post regularly.
Posting multiple messages on different days increases the chances your followers see what you have to say. Consider posting once or twice a week over a period of a couple of months.
6. Engage the campus community.
Encourage faculty and staff from different areas of your institution to promote your co-branded TurboVote site on all of their social media platforms in order to engage a more diverse audience. You can also tag other departments in posts to gain a wider audience. Tag @TurboVote, too!