Election nights in newsrooms are energetic places to be. Here are ways you can help your audience discover all of the things you’re covering.
By David Arkin • David Arkin Consulting
There are few nights in a newsroom like Election Night.
The pizza, the results and the energy is a special experience, no matter how many times you have done it. I am sure Nov. 8 will rival some of the more memorable ones in recent history.
Election Day/Night coverage can be the highlight of your Fall traffic if you do a little pre-planning and use strategies that will help your audience discover information they are seeking while also using your digital toolkit.
Here are six things to do on Election Day/Night (beyond traditionally covering the races) that are sure to create happy engagement with your audience.
1. Blog it
Blog the results and color that you capture throughout the day. The idea is having a place where you can throw all of the things that your staff is collecting (photos, short updates, Facebook Lives and Tweets). This approach can be used for a specific race as well, just make sure the reporter on it can feed it constantly.
2. Create pages for each race
While it takes work, the SEO results are worth it to create a story for every race on the ballot. This doesn’t mean you have to write a story about every race, but you could at least have the results of that race, along with any Q&As you did in advance on that race, along with other related stories and links.
Pro tip: Create these as early as possible (not on Election Day, but days before) to been seen first in search.
3. Be Live: You’ll be at watch parties and polling sites, so use social capabilities to show your audience what you are seeing through Live tools that Meta has. Plan it out in your newsroom so you have people live at key times (a morning update on what to expect during the day, what’s happening at the polls, when results start coming in and at watch parties). Give yourself at least 15-20 minutes for each Live as it takes time to build an audience.
Food fun: Do a social media post of your election night food, explaining what a tradition it is in newsrooms across the country or even ask your audience what Election Night snacks they are enjoying and enoucrage people to post their photos.
4. Explain how you cover an election
Help your audience truly understand how you work during an election by showing them. You can do this through a post in the morning noting what readers should expect, but use social media and other video tools to give updates on what is happening throughout the day, I.e., the first results are in (this is what we are seeing and what we will post and how we will update). If appropriate, explain how you declare winners.
Bonus idea: If you are a small newsroom, consider taking your election coverage on the road, to a coffee shop (somewhere open late) and invite community members to meet up with you and see you in action.
5. Reader questions
Create a story asking readers what they want to know about the election (create a form in a story) and post the call to action on your website. This could be anything from how packed polls are to early results to issues at polling sites. This is a great way to get tips from readers, as well.
6. Create election night social cards
The Washington Post did this extremely well a few years ago but there is no reason that you couldn’t do this for races that you are covering. Use a tool like Canva to create them in advance. Simply have the race, a picture of both candidates and the percentage. This is a nice image to use for election stories on social media.
I’d love to help your media company with your coverage and other digital initiatives that can help grow your audience and revenue. Contact me at David@davidarkinconsulting.com today.