By David Arkin
At this point, the candidate profiles, Q&A’s, forums and endorsement interviews for local elections around the country are likely all wrapped up.
The service and information media companies provide their audiences for local elections is incredibly important and ties to the trust readers have with their local newspapers and TV stations.
Now that the majority of your content has been created, what should you do to make sure as many people as possible see it and that your coverage on Election Day is just as good as all of the journalism you have created leading up to it?
Here are a few proven ideas we like:
1. Get SEO right for your election page
Make sure that you’re not just naming your election section something like “Election” or “Vote.” Tie your page to the things that people might search for like “Name of City Election 2023” or if it’s a specific race use that as the name of the page, like “Name of City 2023 School Board Election.”
Tip: Wondering what people are searching for around the election? Use Google Trends to discover the results in your community or a keyword tool like Semrush. This can help you figure out just the right words to use.
2. Create individual stories for candidates and roundups of races
Readers are likely to search for specific people and races, so it’s a good idea to have stories for both of these things. That means each candidate you did a profile on or have a Q&A for should have their own story. For races, pull all of those profiles together and link to them in your story.
SEO tip: Create unique URLs for each of these stories, the name of the race for those roundups and the name of the candidate for the profiles.
Bonus idea: Use Flourish (more to come on them later in this post) to showcase cards of candidates. You can use these to feature their bios or how they answered questions and then embed them in your story. See an example here:
3. Create a procrastinator’s guide
Taking all of your content — all of those stories on races and ballot issues and what to know at the polls — and put it all into a guide. One of our favorite approaches is doing a procrastinator’s guide, a story or newsletter that provides someone who hasn’t necessarily been spending enough attention this last month to election coverage, a way to catch up.
4. Visualize results with charts
As you consider how to showcase results to readers on election night, there are a few ways to use data tools to get beyond just a text list of results.
• Google Sheets: This is one of the simplest ways to display results from an election. Simply create a Google Sheet and then use Google’s tools to turn it into a chart. We like this approach because when you update the Google Sheet the changes will apply to the chart that is embedded on your site in real time.
• Flourish: This tool allows you to go way beyond just displaying charts from results but provides the opportunity to showcase trends in pretty impactful ways. Here’s an example that breaks down what happened in battleground states after the last presidential election. This could be an interesting tool in follow up coverage after the election. And here are six ideas that Flourish has put together on more election ideas you can do with their tool.
5. Create social cards
A nice way to showcase election stories on social media on election night is through social cards that you can build with Canva. Here is how a TV station in South Dakota did this for a recent election. We like this because it gives the reader the info they want and you can simply put a link in your post to drive your readers to see the entire story.
We can help you
If you need help with your election coverage, connect with us. We can help strategize and even create some of these elements for you. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org